The nearly omnipresent influence of religious framework on conspiracy theories

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I want to say this first – I have a huge experience in researching conspiracy theories. Having seen enough of it, I recognized especially one curious pattern – the influence of religious framework on apparently almost all of them. The far-right is one place which fuels it, deeply subjectively concerned religious people is another source, then there are those who do  not want to affiliate with any religion, yet they are using its doctrines and symbolism anyway, althought in a more imaginative and subtle way. Let’s also do not forget how eager many of these theorists were to incorporate theme of 2012 predictions to somehow fit it in their work. One thing that stands out for me is the interpretation of political history in most of these theories. They tend to treat political history as a gradually directed process of preparing world for a planned ending. This ending is the absolute state that cannot be rendered obsolete, there is no coming back from it, it is a complete closed system, a great epilogue. The French Revolution, for instance, is seen as one of the milestones that helped to steer the world in the desired direction, while collapse of WTC is seen as yet another powerful move in the game. The rulers of the world are often depicted as satanists, or are directed by evil otherworldly beings or are immersed in dark occult ritualism or are Jewish or are greedy bankers. There is a tradition to portray Jews as servants of the devil and the freemasonry as the antithesis of the Christianity ( no wonder also that they are sometimes combined together as Judeo-Masonry ). Astrology is also condemned as is Tarot, spiritism or Kabbalah. The point is: so many of these ideas are rooted in religious framework. Why do the rulers of the world have to be satanic? Why do they have to be engaged in dark rituals? Why and how are these rituals so powerful? Why is this secret knowledge so enigmatic rather than empowering with clarity and usefulness? Why are beings from outer world included in this? Why do the Jews usually have to play a vital role in it? Why is this elite deep into astrology and magic? Beyond that, is there any comprehensive conspiracy theory that is not at all based on religious framework but built around non-religious metanarrative? Cannot a conspiracy be constructed from an agnostic perspective? Can anyone show a conspiracy theorist who does neither positively nor negatively reference and bring in any religion and doesn’t allow it to influence his work? Can anyone show a conspiracy theorist that has reached his knowledge and conclusions without joining the bandwagon, independently of the influence of religion, New Age and esotericism and prior to familiarizing himself with the sources that propagate conspiracy theories? And can anyone show a conspiracy theorist who is in big disagreement with the other researchers in his field and rejects at least 3/4 of what they claim because he has on his own come to very different conclusions? Is it not suspicious to you, how they are all accusing each other as being agents, liars or attention-seekers?

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Case no. 1: Alex Jones

Alex Jones is a very good ( and famous ) example. I think he can be rightly associated with right-wing. He uses term ”social darwinism”, which is quite telling. It is also worth to note his attitude towards communism and a movie ”Endgame: Blueprint for Global Enslavement” is a great embodiment of millenialism. There is this scenario in which there are ”good us” and ”evil them”, and the ”endgame” has a noticable resemblance to the timeless story of good versus evil and to the religious idea of Final Judgement or Apocalypse. However, what if the game has no end and no one is truly good or evil? Alex Jones is known for publishing a video of the ritual taking place in Bohemian Grove in California. The question is: does this ritual have to be viewed as something really wicked or is it really symbolic and ”no big deal” in accord with the formula ”weaving spiders come not here”?

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Case no. 2: David Icke

David Icke distances himself from organized religion and claims that there will be no religion in the near future. Yet, his work obviously displays the theme of millenialism, he propagates the idea of dark rituals involving shapeshifting, child sacrifice, pedophilia and contact with interdimensional beings, his work is rich in New Age but also gnostic terms, he acknowledges Godhead, people used as a vehicles by evil spirits, astral plane etc. He also integrated the 2012 predictions into his work, like so many other conspiracy theorists. Why? Maybe because they all believe in an actual Final Judgement in global politics, that a day is coming near when everything in this world will be resolved and become crystal clear and perfectly judged. We tend to feel that our civilization is an unfinished project that can be steered in one or another direction, but authors like David Icke, think that there is either global enslavement or the triumph of an awakened race and no other option. David Icke created the whole metaphysical scheme in which he places the global conspiracy. This metaphysical scheme, it seems to me, is far from being not submissive to religious doctrine and symbolism.

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Case no. 3: The Arrivals

This Youtube documentary series is made from islamic point of view, its creators were quite open-minded, but it is by no means free from religious narratives. Theory of evolution is mocked. The antichirist is expected to come, meaning there is a strong religious background to the theory presented in this series. Koran is held to be authoritative and there is a strong message of warning agaist occult practices that are used basically everywhere today. Pop culture is called satanic. One of the episodes’ name, ”Why Satanism Is Practised By Our Leaders”, sums up the prevailing narrative in this series. It’s a pity that its creators couldn’t go beyond it, while having so much passion.

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Case no. 4: Rick Clay

This was quite mysterious man who suddenly emerged from the underground, only to be soon found dead. His theories concerned the 2012 Olympics in London. He predicted that this event would lead to the establishment of Zion ( or New Jerusalem ) in Britain and the coronation of the Antichrist as a world leader. The street plan of the place in which the sport event was set up was interpreted to purposefully reflect biblical names ( see the image on top of the post ). The design of the stadium was said to contain esoteric symbolism, such as the Eye of Providence.

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Case no. 5: Satanic panic of the 60’s

This one is very meaningful as it could be one of the roots of religious influence on most of the succeeding conspiractional views. This gives an interesting glimpse into the fears that people had in that time, fears about disrupting traditional values and introducing new lifestyles and dimensions to social order. John Todd represents it best. He claimed to be a high-rank witchcraft priest and attributed to Illuminati quite a lot of credits that are given to them. It is from him that the idea of Ayn Rand’s ”Atlas Shrugged” being an Illuminati’s manual for world takeover and the idea of ”Necronomicon” as an original occult Bible, has originated. According to him, Illuminati was all about effective witchcraft.

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Case no. 6: William Guy Carr

This particular person is of immense importance in regards to the development of contemporary conspiracy theories and should be spoke about more often. Bill Ellis called him ”the most influential source in creating the American Illuminati demonology”. He was anti-communist and ”promoted the anti-Semitic variant on conspiracism with books such as ”Pawns in the Game” and ”Red Fog over America”. Carr believes than an age-old Jewish Illuminati banking conspiracy used radio-transmitted mind control on behalf of Lucifer to construct a one world government”. Early works of 20th century conspiracy literature were often highly religious in spirit and content.

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Now, after presenting these cases, do I have to even mention the infamous ”Protocols of the Elders of Zion”? Or Ezra Pound? Or Eustace Mullins? Or Henry Makow? Or is the influence of religious framework blatantly evident here?

Take a look at how frequently these words appear in conspiracy literature: ‘satanic’, ‘demonic’, ‘occult’, ‘antichrist’, ‘zion’, ‘cult’, ‘witchcraft’, ‘luciferian’, ‘final’  etc. The religious influence is all around there!

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I think you can now see that the way communism, freemasonry, Jews and Judaism, occultism, materialism, pop culture, astrology, child abuse or historical political process is usually perceived in the body of conspiracy theories is powerfully influenced by religious doctrines, symbols and narratives. I have deemed it one of the biggest weak points of these theories, that they are deeply rooted in naively polarizing and absolutizing perspectives, blocking more ambitious, constructive and innovative approaches from fluorishing. However, I wish to make it clear that with this post I didn’t want to disprove any single conspiracy theory, instead I only wanted to highlight how submissive they are to the influence of religious culture ( and I don’t think it is a good thing ). I bet: the truth is subtler than all what has been told so far.

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8 thoughts on “The nearly omnipresent influence of religious framework on conspiracy theories

  1. A very interesting article, thank you.

    I agree with you in that most things are somewhere in the middle, a soup, if you will. Strangely, as i ‘evolve’ and due to the nature of my life, I am tending towards more of a holistic, integrated view of life in which we are all linked in many subtle ways. (I won’t elaborate too much here). If one believes in projection, could it not be that most of the conspiracies are just folks’ inner fears making links that are inaccurate at the best, and perhaps downright absurd at the worst?

    My motto is ‘Believe what is experienced by you, not someone else.’ All of my personal spiritual beliefs evolve from direct elemental experience and have nothing to do with man-made religions.

    By the way, my understanding of witchcraft is that there is no ‘Satan’, who in fact is a Christian construct, as Alan Moore mentions. Maybe the Christians used this fallen angel in an attempt to vilify the horned gods of fertility in days of yore. Certainly, modern witchcraft practitioners do not accept Satan as being apart of their beliefs (Wicca etc.)

    Finally, the world has always been a hard, merciless place where the playground bully carries on with his work long after he has left the school yard gates; protect us from the mighty who are gifted with intelligence, for it is they who contribute to domination and the plunging of the world into darkness. However, has this not always been the case? The strong will rise and the weak will fall. This is just how it is…

    I prefer to think that the world is a beautiful but troubled maze that allows us to evolve spiritually (not religiously), and is supposed to be as it is, a catalyst for growth (whatever that means.) There is a lot to enjoy and celebrate so long as we don’t believe that there is some ‘touchy-feely’ heaven waiting for the good and righteous. Mind you, anything could be true, even that! Our pain always comes from assumptions and expectations rather than an objective understanding of our place in creation.

    Find me someone who actually ‘knows’ the truth. We are but one piece in a huge cosmic jigsaw.

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  2. Thank you for this wonderful, unrestricted and deep comment. I will treat it as it deserves to be treated.

    The holistic, integrated view of life is exactly what I am into for a long time. The title of this blog itself affirms this fact. It is a paradigm into which I have put my trust, it is my preferred mode of thinking. Projection is actually one of the psychological defense mechanisms as described by Freud. The fear surely plays a big role in accusatory explanations as it can be visible in the phenomenon of moral panic, to mention one. Besides, people have always feared foreigners, aliens, strangers as it can be visible in the invention of monsters or agressive extraterrestrials in works of mythology or in modern fiction. The links they make often result from dualistic oversimplifications: us and them, right side of the conflict and wrong side of the conflict etc. The problem is, those who accuse, consider themselves to represent what is rightful and disallow for those radically different to belong to the same league as them – thus the others must represent evil ways. It is this naive, absolutist, poralizing perspective which causes so many troubles. It had many manifestanions in the past history and we can see it today in the case of ‘war on terrorism’.

    Your motto is very wise as everything we can ever know seems to be included in experience or be derived from it, especially from personal experience. The problem is that experience should really be direct and not second-hand.

    I have never believed that Satan literally exists and I also know that in the Hebrew Bible Satan wasn’t treated as a person because Judaism is consequentially monotheistic and refuses to claim that God may have any adversary or be opposed by anyone or anything. In Judaistic view, whatever Satan is – it is and must be – under absolute control of God as all of his creation is. Islam, similarly, is strictly monotheistic. The connection with horned gods – great observation!

    At first world had to be a hard, merciless place but I am not convinced we cannot change it when are sufficiently advanced and knowledgeable.

    The world is perfectly fit for adventure. A lot could be said about heaven, but one thing is that despite presuming that it is a different and ‘better’ place than our Earth, it is paradoxically, quite similar to it, so that it doesn’t seem to me so different and ‘better’ at all.

    To me, truth is not ”a thing among things, an object that can be know to subject, a platonic form” but rather a ”special type of relationship”. It is not personal in itself and that’s why it requires cooperation, dialogue and community and is expanded by art, philosophy, civilization, history.

    At the end I have written ”I bet the truth is subtler than all what has been told so far” by which I mean epic, blockbuster, hollywood-style, egocentric and offering one single answer to many different problems theories are somehow, by definion, too arrogant to stand to scrutiny and meet their premise and also that no one has yet developed a view that would encompass all that needs explanation thus when and if it comes it will be to some significant degree unlike anything that has been claimed so far althought many things we have allready discovered or claimed will also be in it.

    It follows that no one knows the truth because it is distributed amongst everyone and you cannot take everyone’s piece and have it all yourself, but what you should be able to do is to guess the general character of most important aspects of reality. Then you can construct a worldview which should not differ too much from what reality generally is. For example, we can guess that Earth doesn’t exist specially for humans and doesn’t treat as specially in comparison to the rest of life in it. I accept the fact that I will never know or understand everything there is but I believe I can capture or guess its basic or general character and use it as a base for continual steady improvement.

    One more thing, there is a certain urge in me to keep language simple so my style mixes quite advanced thinking ( at least sometimes ) but it remains ( I believe ) quite basically written. I don’t trust words at all… but nice to meet you here.

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  3. Yes, I like what you say about truth. I agree that it is all shared because everyone’s truth is exactly that… their truth. Also sweeping arrogant statements such as those uttered by so-called ‘great religions’ can be unhelpful and yet, many millions of folk accept this ‘truth’. One of the reasons i live the life i do on my boat is because I do not trust the ‘world’. That is not to say that i do not enjoy its many dramas and the terrible beauty of its history. I just have developed my own way of transcending it and thus remaining healthily detached (I hope!) Nothing that transpires in this world surprises me, and I suppose that is because I do see it as a ‘school-room’.

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  4. Fascinating post, thank you. We need to also remember that for some conspiracy theorists, it becomes a lucrative career. Alex Jones is big business. We’re also dealing with the fallout from the disintegration in the West of Christianity as the focal point of religion, so you end up with people grasping about for something to fill the spiritual void. That’s when things can start to get kooky.

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  5. I am glad that you find it fascinating although so much more could be written about this pattern. To put it simply, conspiracy theorists don’t emerge from the ground and must, like everyone else, in addition to their observations and speculations, base their work and their narratives on sources, just like artists or journalists do. The sources they choose are often more or less rooted in religion, esotericism, folklore, anonymous informants, sensational revelations, rumours, symbolic fiction etc.

    What I have described in this post was a sort of ”appeal to occult” that conspiracists often make use of. It is a conspicous conviction that there is a a special type of knowledge which is secretive and with which it is possible to manipulate the whole humanity if it is ignorant of it or uninitiated. What kind of knowledge could it be? The answer conspiracy theorists give is often along these lines: it is dark, ritualistic, mystical, has deep ancient origins etc. It’s quite literally like magic. I am unimpressed by these interpretations. I might say that these kinds of appeals are ”footnotes to judeochristianity”.

    To freely work out and share those theories gives some of these authors not only money or acclaim, but also a sense of personal purpose, mission or exclusive access to knowledge ”that can set you free”. Yes, there are very powerful psychological motivations at work. Overall, it is quite surprising how much unoriginal those theorists tend to be ( when you examine constantly repeating tropes ) and how stubbornly they keep on claiming that the special knowledge the ruling elites practise is magic-like ( instead of, for example, technological or scientific).

    One of the many things that I noticed about conspirational world is the upsetting and naive ease with which people join the bandwagon, accept controversial ideas and make a decision to include them as viable part of their worldview. One day some author writes a book about aliens creating and controling mankind and a month later there appears a whole community of people that accept this as if it was a fact ( but not widely known ). What kind of decision-making is it? Is it not hasty, careless, impulsive? Can you form an enlightened opinion by acting in such manner? I highly doubt it. You can always make special claims, but it is very improbable that you will be right just because you are a person who apparently found himself in some special circumstances/aquired some special information from some special sources, while the scientists, sociologists, economists and others who really do the hard work year after year, cannot produce equally spectatular results and can not find or confirm what you apparently found ( with less work an in shorter time! ). It is not enough to read a couple of controversial books, watch a few hundred of videos and visit an impressively long list of ”alternative” websites to extract or claim some world-changing truth ( this I have experienced myself ). Unfortunately, it just isn’t that easy ( both natural realm and the human realm are very complex ). I suspect that no one exactly understands what is principally wrong with the organisation and functioning of society. Yet I believe, understanding of it, requires something special after all – a special kind of sensitivity, imagination, work ethics, rigor, responsibility, vision etc.

    * For anyone interested in this topic, I recommend books by Michael Barkun. *

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  6. Thank you.

    What I have written here is based on rather extensive personal experience I gathered couple years ago. My interest in conspiracy theories was in many ways an exploration along the lines “whatever could potentially stimulate your imagination, inspire you, awaken you to the mystery, enlighten you and open you up to previously unconsidered possibilities – go for it”. I felt a strong urge to familiarize myself with this topic as well as with often related topics of paranormal or occult. One of the especially curious aspects of conspiracy theories is that they are “messy” and riddled with incosistencies/incoherences/contradictions/biases. The way it is being decided which sources are credible, what explanations are justifiable, which persons can be trusted etc. is fascinating to me. If you try to trace some of these theories to their possible origins, you might learn that to some degree they spread in a manner reminiscent of memes or rumours and over time they turn into something resembling ouroboros – the lack of solid logic to their growth can make them ultimately unoriginal, exclusive, confusing and even self-refuting. On the other hand, these theories may be looked at as really interesting experiments in epistemology and they may be quite illuminating when you have a good idea of how to deal with them. Remember to always remain detached to an extent and to not take it entirely seriously.

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