Why do Trinity worshippers take such risks to go to church in person?

The most extreme congregations believe that the government is using the COVID scare to grab control of people’s religious freedoms and individual rights, says another religious studies scholar, Carmen Celestini.

“They actually refer to the masks we wear as face diapers.

Read the full article by Luisa D’Amato on The Waterloo Record.

Designating Proud Boys as terrorist organization could deter recruits, experts say

Carmen Celestini, who is a fellow at the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism, said . . . more has to be done to better understand the allure of far-right and conspiracy theories and their ties to organized religion. She said governments should work to partner with researchers to contend with the phenomenon.

“Most of the public that’s engaging in these groups are wandering into these things,” she said. “What we need is more prevention.” She added where the public and governments have failed in the past is in their dismissal of these groups as operating on the fringes, and an assumption that their adherents are the “uneducated, unwashed masses.” Many of those who rioted in D.C., she noted, were white-collar professionals—doctors, lawyers, teachers, and small business owners.

Read the full article by Samantha Wright Allen and Beatrice Paez on The Hill Times. (Subscription required.)

Dominion Voting Systems has stepped up security for its offices after receiving threats

The disinformation surrounding Dominion’s voting machines is par for the course given the political climate in the United States, said Carmen Celestini, a professor at the University of Waterloo and a fellow at the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism.

“Conspiracy theories like these, which are encouraged by people like Rudy (Giuliani), tap into some already-held beliefs that people in groups like QAnon have,” Celestini said. “They’re getting this information not just from Giuliani but from OANN (One America News Network), YouTube shows, podcasts. If you’re in a social media bubble with only these sources, you get sucked down that rabbit hole quickly.”

Read the full article by Jacob Lorinc on The Toronto Star.