Graduate Program

Communication Studies with Pedagogy Option

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion

Fall 2021

Thesis Director

Marita Gronnvoll

Thesis Committee Member

Nora L. Heist

Thesis Committee Member

Samantha Szczur


Over the course of the last six years, the conspiracy theory community known as Q-Anon has risen to prominence across the internet, coming to encapsulate a significant portion of the United States’ conservative and protestant populations. This study applies the act of Critical Rhetoric as proposed by McKerrow (1989) to the Q-Anon “drops”; message board posts wherein Q, the enigmatic leader of Q-Anon, preached conspiratorial ideology and misinformation to his followers. A pattern of Christian theology being usurped and retooled by Q as a method of faith-based political radicalization emerged throughout the texts, and this phenomenon was named “Parasitic Christianity.” Using this concept of Parasitic Christianity as a guiding framework for analysis, this study explores the four main thematic areas of theology which are present overtly and latently in the texts. In building the scholarly community’s understanding of Q-Anon as both conspiracy theory and theology, I aim to assist in working towards processes of deradicalization for conspiracy movement members.