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Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them$
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Joseph E. Uscinski

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190844073

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190844073.001.0001

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Conspiracy Theories and Religion

Conspiracy Theories and Religion

Superstition, Seekership, and Salvation

Chapter:
(p.411) 28 Conspiracy Theories and Religion
Source:
Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them
Author(s):

David G. Robertson

Asbjørn Dyrendal

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190844073.003.0028

Religious ‘beliefs’ are more often situational than propositional. Reading reported conspiracy beliefs the same way deepens our understanding of their function and appeal. Ideas shared by both religion and conspiracy theories—including the paranormal, esotericism, millennialism, and prophecy—are varieties of the rejected knowledge of the “cultic milieu.” The distrust of epistemic and institutional authority in these fields leads to a profusion of syncretic “grand explanatory narratives,” which make meaning and explain away the apparently anomalous or morally perplexing. A religious studies perspective not only clarifies the social function of such ideas, but also offers tools for understanding the people who believe in conspiracy theories in a more human and productive light.

Keywords:   conspiracy theory, religion, belief, paranormal, apocalypticism, prophecy

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