CORVALLIS —Like most of us in these times of COVID-19 and fires, I spend time reading the paper and watching the news. I see and hear of domestic social unrest, political intrigue, and international conflict over economic and ideological issues. The problems and issues appear extreme. Violence, crime, hate, plague, famine, fire, flood and storms, seemingly on apocalyptic scales, surround us and invade all of our conversations and prayers. These challenged can hinder our desire toward charity and works of mercy. We naturally turn to others for trusted advice and guidance when we are in doubt. We must turn to our faith for comfort and trust in the providence of God during this time of our trials (1 Peter 1).

Recently, the press has often mentioned an organization called QAnon. I did some research. Based on that, I am troubled by the apparent acceptance by many Christians and Catholics of the QAnon rhetoric that says we need to be ready to fight. This thinking is making problems worse.

Consider the QAnon slogan — “Where we go one, we go all” — as emblematic of modern America’s susceptibility to conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories based on veiled allegations and unsupportable opinions can do nothing but lead us away from truth and charity.

I believe that QAnon is a philosophy of hate and violence. I believe that QAnon is a philosophy that promotes white supremacy and ignores the rights and contributions of immigrants. And I believe that QAnon is a philosophy that targets Jewish and Islamic people without valid causes.

Influence from QAnon has been connected to several incidents of violence or threatened violence; it has helped spur its followers to violence or to celebrate violent acts. A philosophy of hate and violence is in direct opposition to the love and forgiveness of God. We must act through love and charity and mercy toward all God’s children as Jesus commanded of us (Matthew 25). Our corporal and spiritual works of mercy are actions we can perform that extend God’s compassion.

Since 1903 our country has been inspired by the Emma Lazarus statement, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” This is what many of our forefathers understood as they came here from England, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Russia or wherever else in this world. Through Scripture we know that we are all pilgrims in this world on a personal journey toward heaven (1 Peter 2). We are all strangers in a strange land until we are in heaven (Ephesians 2:19).

Yet QAnon targets Islamic people, claiming against all evidence and common sense, that the coronavirus mask movement is a step toward making all women wear a full burka. There is evidence of QAnon’s anti-Semitic conspiracy theory gaining traction around the world as indicated by the April 2019 shooting on the last day of Passover at Chabad of Poway near San Diego. Also, QAnon claims the Rothschilds, a Jewish banking family, plans to kill non-Jews and start a world war. A philosophy that targets Jewish and Islamic people is in direct opposition to the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. We, as a church, since the Second Vatican Council in 1965, have stood in support of our brothers and sisters in God and all religious people of the world who strive for peace and fight oppression. We know that genocide and ethnic cleansing is against the teaching of our church and against the common morals of society in general. There can be no justification for vilifying Muslim or the Jewish people or for spreading moral panic.

QAnon is not Christian, not just and not Catholic.

I cannot tell anyone what to believe, but I offer caution with the words of Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted: “Not only does God have a plan for your life, so does Satan.”

Jones, retired from the Oregon Department of Human Services, holds master’s degrees in pastoral ministry from the University of Portland and in business management for science and technology from Oregon Health and Science University. He is a Knight of Columbus district deputy and a member of St. Mary Parish in Corvallis.