Join us at a conference in Waterloo, ON on May 7-9, where academics and religious leaders will gather and speak about polarization in religious communities. Former Premier Kathleen Wynne, and Yale Theologian Miroslav Volf, will be engage through various panels and keynote speeches to help us all understand conspiracy, extremism, fear, and volatility that is the polarization we encounter in our religious institutions and flocks.
TikTok Ban For Government Phones
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the app Tik Tok is no longer allowed on Canadian government issues cell phones. Given the concern regarding China data mining information of users from the app, and recent events such as the weather balloon shot down, the CSIS report on China’s influence on the federal election, and spy buoys found in our waters, this was not an unexpected move. Other countries such as America, India, and the EU have also taken this measure.
New Article – Telegram and Dark Social Movements
In this study, we empirically examine conspiracies on the end-to-end encrypted instant messaging platform Telegram. Using the theoretical framework of dark social movements, we provide a first look at conspiratorial topics disseminated by right-wing extremists in Canada. This study examines conspiracies related to the Great Reset, Great Awakening, United Nations, technology, China, deep state, COVID-19, Islamophobia, and the New World Order. To conduct our study, we downloaded all 270,806 posts available across 21 Telegram channels selected based on their affiliation and/or association with the far-right in Canada. Using mixed-methods entailing traditional content analysis of sampled data as well as a digital investigation of the overall dataset, our findings illustrate a tendency to delegitimize the legitimate with seven conspiratorial topics and trends related to COVID-19, the interconnected nature of conspiracies, technology (5G Network, QR Codes, etc.), the Great Awakening, the deep state and political polarization, children-saving, and critical race and/or religion. We discuss how dark social movements on Telegram orbit around increasingly mainstream conspiracies that enable the far-right to coordinate activities, share similar ideas, and troll opponents.
Brazilian supporters of Bolsonaro turned protests about the recent election to violence as they overtook the federal government buildings, an event reminiscent of the events of January 6th in America’s capital. The protesters were fuelled by disinformation and conspiracy theories of a rigged election, spouted by social media, the former president himself, and American right-wing influencers such as Steve Bannon. These events, including Jan 6th, and the Canadian Convoy movement reveal how powerful conspiracy theories can be in creating social movements of self declared “patriots” determined to “save” their country, and in doing so define who are citizens of their nations.
Mass Shooting in a Condo in Vaughan
Francesco Villi shot and killed numerous people in his condo building in Vaughan, Ontario. For years he had been in a legal battle with the condo board regarding an electrical room under his first floor condo. Villi claimed that the noise and the electrical waves coming from the room were causing him both physical and mental harm. In numerous video and text posts on social media Villi positioned what was happening to him through a religious lens, envisioning himself as “good” and on the side of God, what he understood as the 5% of the planet, while the other 95% were evil or demons.
QAnon an Italian Broadcast
This interview was quite personal for me. As a child OMNI was the only network that provided programming in my father’s first language. He would watch the channel a lot and chided me for not continuing my learning/use of speaking Italian. He would be proud that I was the talkative English language person in the midst of Italian. Being interviewed for this piece on Omni’s Italian Language News Broadcast was a little bit of an homage to my dad.
Disinformation in the Emergency Act Inquiry
The Inquiry into the use of the Emergency Act during the “freedom convoys” addressed some of the issues of disinformation/conspiracy but it also provided an audience for additional disinformation to spread. Conspiracy theories and disinformation spread on social media platforms before, during, and after the convoys, and the level of distrust supporters have towards the institutions of society is not going to simply disappear. This is an issue that we as a global community need to address.
Religious Studies Project Discourse!
Chris Cotter, Ting Guo, and myself discussed the passing of the Queen of England and mourning in Hong Kong, then the conspiracy theories with the self titled Queen of Canada, Romana Didulo, Iranian protests and the mandatory Hijab, and finally religion and spirituality in mental health surveys. A great conversation with two very intelligent and humourous academics.
Secular Arizona – Summit
I will be a keynote speaker at the Annual Secular Arizona Summit on December 10, 2022. I will be addressing the role of conspiracy theories and Christian Nationalism on American politics. Registration is required.
US Mid-Terms an Analysis
Myself and three political science professors were on a panel the day after the midterms to discuss what had occurred. There were still some positions which were too early to decide, but we attempted to understand the lead up to the election and the vote itself, through a polling, foreign relations, extremist, and gender lens.