Deep State, Deep Church: How QAnon and Trumpism have infected the Catholic Church

Catholicism’s increasingly powerful political right reflects fringe America, fueled by paranoia, conspiracy, racism, and the threat of apocalypse.


Vanity Fair: It isn’t yet light when Alexander Tschugguel and his cameraman sneak into Rome’s Santa Maria in Traspontina Church to steal the statues. A lone elderly parishioner sits in the pews as Tschugguel—a young Austrian convert to Catholicism, so neatly dressed he might work there—quickly genuflects, then steps behind the rail of a side altar and picks the statues up: five slim wooden carvings, less than two feet tall, of a naked, kneeling woman with long dark hair, Indigenous features, and a heavily pregnant belly.

No one stops him as he carries them outside and down the Bridge of Angels, where, in the shadow of the hulking Castel Sant’Angelo—the setting of both a purported medieval miracle and an action sequence in a Dan Brown novel—the two men abruptly pitch one statue over the side. Sensing a need for greater ceremony, Tschugguel aligns the remaining four on the bridge’s ledge, then shoves them, one by one, into the Tiber. On their YouTube video, you can see the last one land with a splash, stirring a chorus of seagulls as the current carries it away.

For Catholic “radical traditionalists” at odds with a pope they consider too progressive, it was “the splash heard around the world,” as one right-wing news site put it; a purge “which may well go down in history as the moment the counter-revolution started.” For their more moderate brethren, it was the culmination of an absurd and distressing season of reaction. And though they might not know it, for the rest of America it was a watershed moment too, establishing the tone and subtext of some of the most vicious debates this year. Donald Trump has pinned his 2020 hopes, in part, on dissident Catholics who view the church as compromised, the pope as an unorthodox interloper, and their theology as not just compatible with, but spiritual backbone for conspiracy theories like QAnon.  read more…


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  1. and btw, welcome to the age of outsourcing to PR firms by the church. The Nick Sandman case was strongly militant Catholic, and in their eyes a huge victory owed to the PR firms and lawyers. If we do the math, the brass plates at services are not capable of the maintenance costs for a single year even on that one building. Amazing how the money just appears.
    And is never discussed or examined. It’s a miracle.

  2. The issue is not religious freedom, but the imposition of religious law upon others. The will of the people , cannot abide, any religious based ideology in the formation of law. Nobody is forcing them to have an abortion, and nobody has held them to account for their own pedophilia. It is all projection.
    Francis is not an idealist, he is a pragmatist. He knows things the laity does not. Pandora’s box has never been closer to being opened. The hand is on the lid, and it is unlocked,..poised there,..waiting with an empathy no church has had in a millenia. The contemplative time of hesitancy, has limits, and actions are required by Judaism and Christianity alike. If I say to someone, that the origins of the text can be proven to be non-hebrew and christianity is based on utter falsehood, they would be in utter disbelief. That is impossible they would say. And yet the contents of the box, would do more for the souls of people, than anything churches or synagogues have ever done. Islam,…is just a tag along. Let’s start by examining a “score”.

  3. Much of the USA was settled by folks trying to get away from oppressive state religion be it Catholic or Protestant in Europe. That was why the framers of the Constitution deliberately separated church and state. Now, with Republicans pandering not only to Catholics but to Christian Zionists as well, we’re the closest we’ve ever been to being a kind of pseudo-Christian theocracy. Trump was the Zionists ticket to the Rapture. The rest of us will be cinder cakes in a nuclear holocaust if they get their apocalyptic war with Iran before he leaves office.

    • Not much has changed, as every town on the frontier had a bar full of men, and a church full of women and children. It was tolerated, not believed. The ancient knowledge wisely stayed hidden, as any appearance brought soldiers , and whipped up crowds of misinformed superstitious paranoid people, terrified of the thought a plant could be used for medicine, and they would take the obviously false testimony of small girls, over their own reason.
      And the husband would be held, until the wife was hanged and burned. This was the path to modern acceptance. Brute force, as merciless as any the earth has ever seen.

  4. Pondering the notion that there is no reality, only perception, and it’s possible liberating effect on higher brain function?

    • Not to be disputatious, but when you say “that which we cannot change”, to me, that seems to connote a moving target, which would require addition of the adverb, “yet”. The chasm between omniscience and the relative infinitesimally tiny base of human knowledge is incalculable. The Steady-state model of the universe was displaced by the contemporary Big Bang, which itself could be superseded by some as yet unknown understanding. It was Descartes who said, “I think, therefore, I am”. Guess I’m saying, “I think, therefore, I might be”.

    • Reality is that which we cannot change, so the study of that, not only reveals that there is one, but that it has been no small effort to subvert it, hide it, muddy the water in which it dwells, confiscate it, manipulate it, kill for it, and distort it by any means within grasp.
      And it is such a simple thing. The timidity of those who cling to tradition over reason, are the unwitting gatekeepers of the lies about reality. And their masters have two types of hand wringing. One is anxiousness born of possible exposure, and the other, delight in the success of their temporary position being secured once again.

    • Thinking is part reality and part imagination, as most thoughts are predictable.
      The cycles do not change, and the influence the cycles have on human and animal thoughts, is basically up to the individual. As most have no interest in learning those cycles, they have no concept of reality or free will. The ultimate goal of any serious theological study, is the cycles. And they are well documented and easy to attain. But, not promoted by any who have no interest in advancing free will. For the church, any knowledge of this, not held by them, is priority one destruction. That too, is very easy to determine.

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