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Denver Snuffer - Canonizing "QAnon" Conspiracy Theories?


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Here

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BY CRISTINA ROSETTI  SEPTEMBER 13, 2021
A NEW MORMON RELIGION HAS TAKEN QANON CONSPIRACIES AND CANONIZED THEM AS DOCTRINE

Over the last year, I’ve scrolled past social media posts by members of diverse religious backgrounds and political opinions. However, because my ethnographic research is based in Mormon fundamentalist communities, a good amount of the commentary I see leans libertarian or conservative and comes from communities that developed at a time of perceived religious and cultural uncertainty. These new Mormon religious communities—new religions really—bring together shifting religious landscapes and anxieties about everyday life in ways that seldom make sense to the casual observer.

These seem like fair observations so far.

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As the world watched a viral pandemic take millions of lives and struggle to develop medical interventions and preventative measures, much of my Facebook feed took on an air of conspiracy. Specifically, QAnon emerged as an answer to an increasingly chaotic world.

QAnon is a conspiracy theory that, frankly, reads like word salad. For supporters, however, it’s a puzzle of cryptic codes and symbols that unveil a Satanic pedophile ring controlling the government. Beginning in 2018, the mysterious figure “Q” began detailing Donald Trump’s ascent to power and the “storm” that was coming to finally end control of the “Deep State” and corrupt government. Using “Q drops,” the cryptic 8Kun messages used to rally supporters, “Q” offered supposed intel to the general population on everything from military psyops to Marina Abramović’s controversial Spirit Cooking art installation. 

By the time the January 6 insurrection flashed across my television screen, I’d seen countless Q drops with catchy one-liners to explain their importance. However, as time passed, the content of the conspiracies became increasingly religious (with strong antisemitic undertones) and moved beyond the standard theories espoused by Q supporters. 

I am sociopolitically "conservative," but I am very much not a fan of much of what QAnon seems to be offering, particularly as to its apparent anti-semitic leanings.

Sadly, these ideas appear to be making inroads into the Church:

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Earlier this year, PRRI offered statistics for the intersection of Q-belief and religion, noting that white evangelicals, Hispanic evangelicals, and Mormons are most likely to believe the ideas espoused by Q. This includes 21% of Mormons who believe in QAnon, and 18% who specifically believe that “the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.”

I have some difficulty taking these numbers seriously.  It seems odd to think that 18% of Latter-day Saints have even heard of QAnon, let alone subscribe to its kookiest claims.

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Things grew complicated in 2021 as the vaccine became widely available. The leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the largest branch of Mormonism, acted quickly during the pandemic to close temples and offer guidelines for Church meetings, including social distancing and masks. In addition, they encouraged vaccines, referring to the medical technology as a “literal godsend.” On January 19, 2021, the President of the Church and other senior members of leadership received their own vaccination, sparking both applause and outrage.

Members with political disagreements felt ostracized, and some began questioning their membership in the LDS Church altogether. Others took these events as confirmation that the hierarchy of the Church had gone astray.

Huh.  I wonder who these folks are.  I tend to be a bit leery of taking at face valude references to "some" and "others."

Anyway, here's where Denver Snuffer comes into it:

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The LDS Church’s central claim of Restoration necessitates something lost and restored. Since the 1830 founding of the religion, schism has remained the rule, with many factions of the movement claiming apostasy among the leaders of the dominant faith. One such example emerged in 2013 with a man named Denver Snuffer, leader of the Remnant movement

Snuffer became well-known in Mormon circles for his widely read publications that outlined the path for individuals to encounter Jesus Christ and have assurance of their salvation without the need for a religious institution. Ultimately, Snuffer claimed that God had “terminated the priesthood authority” of the LDS Church, leading it into apostasy. In response, he was excommunicated in 2017. Since then Snuffer has canonized new scriptures, raised funds to build a temple, and held conferences for national audiences. 

Snuffer’s claims became controversial in historical circles in 2017 when he began preaching that Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, did not practice polygamy; that he was, in fact, an ardent opponent of the practice. According to Snuffer, the LDS Church began a long downward spiral following the death of Smith. After his death, Brigham Young rose to power and used Joseph Smith’s history to justify the formation of the controversial marital practice. 

During the 2016 Sunstone Symposium, I watched Snuffer present “Was There an Original” to a standing-room-only audience at the University of Utah. He was charismatic and spoke of an authentic Mormonism that was lost after the death of Joseph Smith. This loss only escalated and amounted to the current state of apostasy in the LDS Church. The goal of his movement, the Remnant, is to recapture an “authentic” Mormonism marked by spiritual experience and individual encounter with God that doesn’t necessitate a temporal intermediarywhich is to say a priesthood or any individual with a special relationship to God. 

I was broadly aware of this stuff.  But here is where things begin to intersect with QAnon:

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Snuffer’s movement is distinctly religious, with few political claims. However, in the wake of the global pandemic, some sought answers that moved beyond the spiritual realm. Enter Phil Davis, a member of the LDS Church known for the artisan chocolate shop that he co-owned with Morgan Coleman in downtown Provo, UT. As of 2020, Davis is the head chocolatier at Small Batch Cacao.

While most know him for his chocolates, some also know him as the End Times Servant who was called to gather the elect and prepare for the return of Jesus Christ. His movement, Doctrine of Christ, isn’t large, but constitutes one of the latest expressions of Mormonism that speaks to the context that we find ourselves in. According to Davis, an angel visited him in his chocolate shop, followed by a translated being who authorized him into a new Terrestrial Order of the Church. 

Doctrine of Christ takes the Snuffer claim a step further, arguing that Brigham Young had the priesthood revoked in the 1830s. After supposedly murdering Joseph Smith, Young claimed ownership of the Church and led it down the path to ruin. However, in recent times, Joseph Smith returned to inaugurate a re-restoration at the hand of the Davidic Servant, Phil Davis.

Earlier this year, the movement linked the perceived apostasy of the LDS Church to the political claims that circulated in conspiracy circles, beginning with the Church’s endorsement of “globalist agendas” and promotion of the “secret combinations” that control the Covid-19 narrative. Under an image of Russell M. Nelson, the group wrote: 

Our research demonstrates that this tyrant is using a false pandemic to force the world to accept a vaccination. This ‘cure’ will make most people who receive it susceptible to a ‘wild virus.’ This may surface later on, after most of the entire human population’s immune systems weaken due to the vaccine.

According to Doctrine of Christ supporters, the virus and subsequent vaccine is part of the “Arch Tyrant” plan to depopulate 90% of the earth. One article pointed to the United Nations as central to this mission, with others citing the Illuminati, Masons, Jesuits, and other entities historically linked to end times apocalypticism. The conspiracies that found their place in American homes and internet forums became doctrine.

Wow.  Wow.

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Currently, Doctrine of Christ has 367 YouTube subscribers and 231 followers on social media. The movement is small, but its existence makes sense within the context of new Mormon groups that emerged within the last decade, and it’s likely to continue growing. Davis and his community harnessed a desire for enchantment that many no longer find in the LDS Church, and the conspiracies provide a comforting response to a chaotic world. In a time of heightened skepticism toward various establishments, he spoke to a craving for independence, both politically and religiously. 

When I first posted about this new group on social media, it was met with interest and several people expressing that the Brigham Young conspiracy would make a great movie. Well, they’re in luck. Phil Davis and the Doctrine of Christ anticipate a movie premier, The Return of Joseph Smith, on April 15 at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, UT. The movie offers an alternate history to the LDS succession era, and answers people’s deepest questions as they seek meaning in an uncertain world.

Wow.  A google search of "the return of joseph smith" yields some surprising results.

Strange times, my friends.  We are living in strange times.

Thanks,

-Smac

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5 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Huh.  I wonder who these folks are.  I tend to be a bit leery of taking at face valude references to "some" and "others."

You could spend some time on the LDS Freedom Forum if you want to see some. 

Link to comment
24 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Here

These seem like fair observations so far.

I am sociopolitically "conservative," but I am very much not a fan of much of what QAnon seems to be offering, particularly as to its apparent anti-semitic leanings.

Sadly, these ideas appear to be making inroads into the Church:

I have some difficulty taking these numbers seriously.  It seems odd to think that 18% of Latter-day Saints have even heard of QAnon, let alone subscribe to its kookiest claims.

Huh.  I wonder who these folks are.  I tend to be a bit leery of taking at face valude references to "some" and "others."

Anyway, here's where Denver Snuffer comes into it:

I was broadly aware of this stuff.  But here is where things begin to intersect with QAnon:

Wow.  Wow.

Wow.  A google search of "the return of joseph smith" yields some surprising results.

Strange times, my friends.  We are living in strange times.

Thanks,

-Smac

I'm wondering if location-location-location has more to do with the 21% Mormons believing in QAnon it than religion. Not seeing a regional analysis on the PPRI report, but I'm guessing the regional belief aligns closely with the political leanings that are in the PPRI poll.

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31 minutes ago, smac97 said:

.....................

Wow.  A google search of "the return of joseph smith" yields some surprising results.

Strange times, my friends.  We are living in strange times........................

What is truly odd is that John P. Pratt now declares that Maricio A. Berger is Joseph Smith returned.   https://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/2020/joseph_returns.html

 

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9 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

QAnon was a joke that got out of hand by underestimating the stupidity of the posters on the board where it started.

I would really like to hear the story of the person who posed as QAnon and why they were willing to continue the fraud when it was taken seriously by so many. 

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9 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

What is truly odd is that John P. Pratt now declares that Maricio A. Berger is Joseph Smith returned.   https://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/2020/joseph_returns.html

 

An example, imo, of a gospel hobby gone awry. Pratt became fixated on proving the gospel through calendars and signs in the heavens instead of listening to the prophets and focusing on living the gospel, again imo. 

Edited by Calm
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26 minutes ago, Calm said:

I would really like to hear the story of the person who posed as QAnon and why they were willing to continue the fraud when it was taken seriously by so many. 

The most likely person to be Q is Ron Watkins.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Watkins

Jim Watkins, his father, is also sometimes suspected but it doesn’t seem like his style. It could also be someone else but these two know who it is if that is the case.

There is not much to the posts themselves:

https://qalerts.app

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45 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

The most likely person to be Q is Ron Watkins.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Watkins

Jim Watkins, his father, is also sometimes suspected but it doesn’t seem like his style. It could also be someone else but these two know who it is if that is the case.

There is not much to the posts themselves:

https://qalerts.app

So it looks like motive would most likely be to drive traffic to his site and thus make more money?

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1 hour ago, Calm said:

 

1 hour ago, Robert F. Smith said:

What is truly odd is that John P. Pratt now declares that Maricio A. Berger is Joseph Smith returned.   https://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/2020/joseph_returns.html

 

Is he Christopher Nemelka's Brother?  He's Hyrum Smith returned right?

e_HBod_BNHFALwnKObtUECN73J15zxkiLTlXd8Zt

 

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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

Here

These seem like fair observations so far.

I am sociopolitically "conservative," but I am very much not a fan of much of what QAnon seems to be offering, particularly as to its apparent anti-semitic leanings.

Sadly, these ideas appear to be making inroads into the Church:

I have some difficulty taking these numbers seriously.  It seems odd to think that 18% of Latter-day Saints have even heard of QAnon, let alone subscribe to its kookiest claims.

Huh.  I wonder who these folks are.  I tend to be a bit leery of taking at face valude references to "some" and "others."

Anyway, here's where Denver Snuffer comes into it:

I was broadly aware of this stuff.  But here is where things begin to intersect with QAnon:

Wow.  Wow.

Wow.  A google search of "the return of joseph smith" yields some surprising results.

Strange times, my friends.  We are living in strange times.

Thanks,

-Smac

I am conservative as well, but call myself a "never-Trump" libertarian conservative.  

Many good members of the Church are falling for the worst of this.  A friend of mine in my stake, a wealthy commercial real estate broker, believes that liberals are kidnapping conservative children for reeducation camps, that vaccinations are a means to social control of conservatives, and that Big Tech Facebook and Instagram need to be put out of business by the government.  I am aghast and tell him that; naturally, I am branded a "liberal."  

The GOP is going to fail and badly with this. 

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20 minutes ago, Calm said:

So it looks like motive would most likely be to drive traffic to his site and thus make more money?

It was really more a joke that somehow took off. 8chan already has a sizable user base.

A bit of internet history:

Something Awful was (and still is) the largest forum community on the web. It picked up a lot of the younger Gen Xers and was a board where edgy comedy and irony and what have you reigned supreme. It was a breath of fresh air to many and most of the users were in their 20s and 30s when it took off. When it started up it leaned libertarian though had extremists of all varieties around along with a bunch of moderates and some weirdos with incoherent philosophies. As the user base of Something Awful aged they started to move to centrism and later to be more to the Left and got more aggressive at purging the far-right elements on the board including literal Nazis. These exiles formed 4chan which took over as the edgier site and would be considered by most to be offensive. There were some Nazis and far-right authoritarians even 4chan couldn’t tolerate and they started booting them. These exiles formed 8chan to protect “free speech” from the “authoritarians” at 4chan. More specifically the free speech of white supremacists.

8chan (it has gone through several names since) became the board that Q comes from. It is a cesspool of the worst of the worst purged even by people who are far-right extremists themselves. That is where QAnon was born.

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25 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

It was really more a joke that somehow took off. 8chan already has a sizable user base.

So the kind of guy who would enjoy watching a bar fight or better starting one. 

Edited by Calm
Link to comment
3 hours ago, smac97 said:

Here

These seem like fair observations so far.

I am sociopolitically "conservative," but I am very much not a fan of much of what QAnon seems to be offering, particularly as to its apparent anti-semitic leanings.

Sadly, these ideas appear to be making inroads into the Church:

I have some difficulty taking these numbers seriously.  It seems odd to think that 18% of Latter-day Saints have even heard of QAnon, let alone subscribe to its kookiest claims.

Huh.  I wonder who these folks are.  I tend to be a bit leery of taking at face valude references to "some" and "others."

Anyway, here's where Denver Snuffer comes into it:

I was broadly aware of this stuff.  But here is where things begin to intersect with QAnon:

Wow.  Wow.

Wow.  A google search of "the return of joseph smith" yields some surprising results.

Strange times, my friends.  We are living in strange times.

Thanks,

-Smac

So,  did Denver Snuffer canonize QAnon conspiracy theories?  Apparently Phil Davis has,  but I don't see anything in the article about Snuffer's link to QAnon. I read through the article fairly quickly,  so maybe I missed it. 

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21 minutes ago, Teancum said:

Wow. I guess the prophet is only the prophet when he says things you like and support. Everyone is an apostate in their hearts.

Pretty much.  They're the only ones who can actually hear the Holy Ghost...or something.

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1 hour ago, Teancum said:

Wow. I guess the prophet is only the prophet when he says things you like and support. Everyone is an apostate in their hearts.

This is pretty much the essence of apostasy, as Joseph Smith clearly taught:

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“I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity: That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives.”

It doesn't really matter the issue.

Edited by Hamba Tuhan
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15 hours ago, cacheman said:

So,  did Denver Snuffer canonize QAnon conspiracy theories?  Apparently Phil Davis has,  but I don't see anything in the article about Snuffer's link to QAnon. I read through the article fairly quickly,  so maybe I missed it. 

Yeah, I don't understand why Denver Snuffer is highlighted in the headline. From this, it doesn't appear that he or his movement has "canonized Q conspiracy theories," nor does it appear that he has a definite connection to this Phil Davis. It looks like baseless journalistic sensationalism. Click bait.

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On 9/13/2021 at 4:26 PM, Calm said:

An example, imo, of a gospel hobby gone awry. Pratt became fixated on proving the gospel through calendars and signs in the heavens instead of listening to the prophets and focusing on living the gospel, again imo. 

Afraid I have to speak up here.  While one may or may not agree with his convictions, I've been acquainted with John Pratt weekly for the past year and have found him in every way to be intelligent, thoughtful, prayerful, and very focused on living the gospel to the best of his understanding.  Initially skeptical, I've come to admire John immensely.  More so than many of the standard product one encounters.  Hobby or not, clearly in scripture God has used synchronized astronomical events and calendars throughout history for his purposes.

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