Long Before QAnon Conspiracies, The U.S. Was Swept By ‘Satanic Panic’

Over the past year, QAnon conspiracies have migrated from obscure corners of the internet into national headlines. The false belief that left-wing Satanists are controlling the government helped fuel the U.S. Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6.

These theories didn’t come from nowhere. Back in the 1980s a similar “satanic panic” swept through the country and led to lawsuits that alleged preschool teachers were performing evil rituals with children. These claims were debunked but the accusations themselves had staying power.

NPR’s Ari Shapiro reports on what factors contributed to the original “satanic panic” and what it can teach us about the conspiracy theories that attract followers today.

In participating regions, you’ll also hear a local news segment that will help you make sense of what’s going on in your community.

Email us at considerthis@npr.org.