Friday, March 04, 2022

March 12 - Save the Children: QAnon, the Blood Libel, and Witch-hunts

Presented by Eve Siebert, Ph.D.

Saturday, March 12, 2022, 1:30 pm

Link to live stream:

Many QAnon proponents believe in a vast conspiracy by Democrats, celebrities, the Deep State, pizza parlors, and butterfly sanctuaries to kidnap, molest, traffic, mutilate, and murder children and to drain them of their sweet, sweet blood. Such accusations are not new, however. They have, for instance, affinities with the Satanic Panic accusations that roiled many countries in the 1980s and 90s.

But the story is much older than the late twentieth century. It ultimately derives from two parallel and mutually reinforcing strands of defamatory claims aimed at religious minorities. One is the Blood Libel, the belief that Jews annually choose a Christian child to be murdered for any number of contradictory reasons. The first Blood Libel accusation was made in the middle of the twelfth century, and it has never really gone away.

The other strand of accusations is older. It was initially used against Christians during the Roman Empire, but it was later recycled by the Church and deployed against the wrong kind of Christians, particularly heretical sects. Later the same accusations became central to the great witch-hunts of the late medieval and early modern periods. As with the Blood Libel, these accusations have remained with us in various forms, constantly resuscitated like a B-movie Dracula whenever some group needs to be dehumanized as an existential threat to Christianity, nationalism, or Christian nationalism.

Eve Siebert has a Ph.D. in medieval English literature from Saint Louis University. She has contributed to the Skeptical Humanities blog, Skeptic magazine’s Insight blog, the Skepticality podcast, and the Virtual Skeptics webcast. She is an adjunct professor at Stockton University.

Questions from the audience will be entered into Live Chat and then relayed to the speaker.