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Restricted Access Thesis

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First Advisor

Joshua Urich


The Evangelical Ethic and the Spirit of Conspiracy engages with conspiratorial thought in the United States and its connection to evangelical discourses in both the past and in our contemporary period. I argue that evangelicalism, and more specifically American evangelicalism, have been foundational to the creation of a culture of paranoia in the United States that has led to the wide popularity of conspiracy movements throughout our history. I begin my argument with a case study of a leader within the contemporary QAnon movement, and discussions of how his personal evangelical faith have informed his conspiratorial outlook on the world. In the following two chapters, I discuss the specific beliefs and practices of three evangelical movements in American history (Methodism, Pentecostalism, and the Charismatic movement). These chapters also bring to light historic conspiracy movements in the United States that have found their origins in these churches, and how American religion has influenced the development of conspiratorial discourses. In the final chapter, I return to the contemporary period to argue that even Americans who do not identify themselves with evangelical churches have adopted these same mindsets that can be traced from American religion, and that our more “secular” culture in imbued with an evangelical penchant for paranoia. Throughout the project, I primarily trace the development of specific discourses derived from American evangelicalism, including individualism, a distrust of institutionalized authority, a strong desire for social and political participation, and strong belief in the supernatural.


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