America’s Militia Threat
The use of domestic terrorism to effect political change is not new to America. During the turbulent 1960s and ’70s, some student activists believed that only violent protests could lead to real social change. An extreme leftist group known as the Weathermen detonated bombs to protest the war in Vietnam and various social problems. These young revolutionaries wanted to overthrow what they considered a flawed U.S. government. I remember clearly the uneasiness of those times. But that era now seems long ago. Most maintain only fond memories of those difficult times.
Now, more difficult times are upon us. After several decades of relative calm, the use of violence as a means of protest is back in vogue. The most shocking single violent act to take place on American soil happened on April 19, 1995, with the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The carnage was incredible: One-hundred sixty-nine lifeless bodies were carried away from the rubble. Why the bombing? Several extremists, this time from the far right, were protesting against the federal government. This April marks the fifth anniversary of that dark day. An architecturally designed memorial will be dedicated to the memories of the innocent people who lost their lives that day.
During the investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing, the American public was made painfully aware of a growing social phenomenon in this country—the citizen militia! Citizen militias should not be confused with the National Guard or the 25 official state militias. Citizen militias are private organizations often engaged in paramilitary activities. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, convicted of the bombing, are believed to have had contact with right-wing militia groups.
Until the Oklahoma City tragedy, most Americans had never even heard the term citizen militia. But with the increased media coverage of the bombing, the average American was shown that not only do such groups exist, but those groups add another threat to an already long list of worries. The Oklahoma City bombing demonstrated clearly that domestic terrorism was alive, active and very bloody. As we pass the five-year anniversary of the bombing, we need to ask the question, are the citizen militias still a threat in this country?
There are over 400 active citizen militias operating in all 50 states. Some of the most vocal and proactive ones are located in Arizona, California, Michigan and Montana. Although it is difficult to come to an accurate count, conservative estimates show the number of militia members to be approximately 100,000. Those who have associated themselves with the militias come from all walks of life: There are doctors, dentists, lawyers, politicians and blue-collar workers. But the majority of militia members come from rural and small communities, generally those hardest hit by economic change.
The people who have joined the militias have done so because they believe the federal government has grown too intrusive in the lives of Americans. The militias believe that the federal government has become far too powerful. Most fear government abuse. Therefore the militias protest against issues such as government control of public lands, federal environmental laws that inhibit economic growth, federal income taxes, abuses by the fbi and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (atf), and gun control. All desire the federal government to return to what they consider a more pure form of the U.S. Constitution that includes only the first ten amendments. Militias claim that amendments such as the 16th—giving Congress the power to lay and collect income taxes—are unconstitutional. Some go as far to demand that present federal powers should be reassigned to the local county sheriff.
Militia experts assure us that a large portion of those involved with the militias prefers a moderate approach to affecting political change. Some still believe in the ballot box. However, several militias with white supremacist views advocate armed violence. These groups prefer and will use the “bullet box.” Some far-right-wing groups are arming themselves to the teeth and training soldiers in preparation for an eventual confrontation with the federal government.
Americans should be most concerned about these far-right groups. Why? With neo-fascist tendencies, these groups are anti-Semitic, antiblack—anti-anything that isn’t white. There has been a dramatic rise in the number of far-right organizations. One militia-watch expert says there has been a 60 percent increase in the number of these groups since 1997.
The history of the militia movement’s rise in America is an interesting one. There is sharp disagreement as to where such history began. Citizen militia groups claim their roots go back to the earliest days of our country to the time of the Minutemen. Yet, the Minutemen, an elite force within the local militias, were actually government supported. With that understanding we would have to say that modern militia groups are not truly minutemen.
Most experts agree that the seeds of the militia movement are more accurately traced alongside that of the “patriot” movement. In fact, most militia watchers use the term militia and patriot interchangeably. One of the earliest known patriot groups is the Posse Comitatus. Founded by ex-military personnel, the Posse became active in the 1980s when America’s farm belt slumped into economic disaster. The Posse was one of the first paramilitary anti-tax groups to appear on the American scene. However, its anti-Semitic, racist rhetoric kept its numbers small.
Most point to the federal government’s mishandling of the now famous incident at Ruby Ridge as the spark that ignited anti-government passions and precipitated the spread of the militias. Randy Weaver, born in Iowa farm country and an avowed white supremacist, moved to Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in the mid-1980s. Weaver and his family fully embraced the conspiracy theories of the Christian Identity movement and set out to live the survivalist life. The Weavers built their own compound in the Idaho wilderness. In 1991, Weaver failed to appear in court after being arrested on gun charges. With his wife and family he holed up at his cabin. Not wanting a negative incident, the U.S. Marshals Service simply monitored and watched the Weavers’ cabin, doing nothing for some 17 months. Then, in August 1992, events unraveled. When the smoke cleared, Randy’s wife, Sara, son Samuel and a U.S. marshal were dead. Ruby Ridge became the rallying cry for militia organizations. In fact, the Trochmann brothers, friends of Weaver, formed the Militia of Montana just after the tragedy at Ruby Ridge.
If Ruby Ridge ignited militia passion, then the events at the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco, Texas, fanned the flames of rage. In the Waco incident, the atf planned a raid on the compound of a religious group, the Branch Davidians, which was supposedly harboring weapons. The raid failed and resulted in the deaths of four federal agents. A 51-day standoff ended when federal agents again attempted to take the compound. A fire broke out, killing about 80 members of the sect. After Waco there was a dramatic rise in militia activity and membership. Even though the debate is still fuming over who set the Waco fire, members of the militia movement believe that, in these two incidents, the federal government grossly overstepped its boundaries.
Motivated by the tragic events at Waco, Timothy McVeigh intended to take vengeance on the government by bombing a federal building. It is a well-known fact that the bombing was specifically planned to take place on the anniversary of the destruction of the Waco compound. All would agree that the events at Waco were tragic. But the cause behind that event is far more complex than government tyranny. We must ask, did the Oklahoma City bombing satisfy the debt accrued at Waco? No. The debt increased. So many more innocent people died in Oklahoma.
What fact can we learn from the Oklahoma City violence? It is this: War has been declared on the federal government. Just after Oklahoma City, Bob Fletcher, a Militia of Montana leader, declared to the press, “Expect more bombs!”
We should not take such statements lightly. The threat of more violence from some militia groups is very real. Yet, please understand what we are saying here. Not all militia groups advocate violence. Some militia organizations are nothing more than U.S. Constitution study groups. In fact, for a short while after the Oklahoma bombing, membership in militias declined. This fact indicates that many who joined militias are opposed to violence. However, it also indicates that the use of violence is a topic of discussion within the militia ranks. Why is it such an issue to the militia movement? Unfortunately, within the militias the fear of conspiracy reigns supreme. In fact, the growth of militia ranks is the direct result of the belief and the promotion of conspiracy theories.
Militia members passionately discuss conspiratorial topics such as world control by a cabal of Jewish bankers, the activities of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission, the New World Order as described by Pat Robertson, a UN plot to takeover the U.S., and black helicopters. Many associate the Brady Bill, written to control handguns, as one of the first covert steps to disarm the American public in preparation for a takeover. Some even believe that our federal government has already been taken over, and foreign troops and equipment are here and poised to move Mr. and Mrs. America into concentration camps. One conspiracy theory maintains that a Kix cereal box reveals the secret government plan to replace the lower 48 states with nine zones.
Even though wild with speculation, there is just enough validity in some aspects of the theories to make them almost believable. But no one has ever yet come to conclusive proof on anything!
Because there are several unanswered questions concerning the Oklahoma City bombing, some militia members believe that the act was sponsored by the federal government to demonize and take control of the private militias.
It is the eagerness to embrace conspiracy theories that gives the militias their serious instability. The fear of a foreign government takeover fuels the armament of militia groups. Fear leads militia members to believe the use of force will be necessary.
There is an element within the far-right militia movement that deserves some special attention. It is generally referred to as the Christian Identity movement. Christian Identity, through a warped interpretation of the Bible, promotes racial hatred and anti-Semitism. Essentially they believe that the Jews will organize a one-world government to enslave white Christians. Rather than tell you what they believe, we will simply give some quotes from one of the Christian Identity groups known as the Aryan Nations. On their website, they state:
“We believe that the true, literal children of the Bible are the 12 tribes of Israel, now scattered throughout the world and now known as the Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, Teutonic, Scandinavian, Celtic peoples of the Earth. We know that the Bible is written to the family of Abraham, descending from Shem back to Adam. Yahweh blessed Abraham and promised that he would be the ‘father of nations.’ This same promise continued through the seedline of Abraham’s son Isaac, and again to Isaac’s son Jacob, the patriarch of the 12 tribes, whose name Yahweh changed to Israel (meaning: ‘he will rule as God’)….
“We believe that the Canaanite Jew is the natural enemy of our Aryan (white) race. This is attested by Scripture and all secular history. The Jew is like a destroying virus that attacks our racial body to destroy our Aryan culture and the purity of our race. Those of our race who resist these attacks are called ‘chosen and faithful’….
“We believe that there is a battle being fought this day between the children of darkness (today known as Jews) and the children of light (Yahweh, the Everliving God), the Aryan race, the true Israel of the Bible.”
Aryan Nations obviously represents the far-right extreme of the militia groups. Their numbers are growing. It is interesting to note that abc’s 20/20 recently featured a documentary showing that white women represented the fastest growing segment of the Christian Identity/white-supremacist movement.
Militia watchers fear that a Christian Identity group will start a violent race war some time in the future. Of course, there are a number of black and Asian hate groups equally capable of starting such a race war. Militia watchers feel that it is only a matter of time. In past articles we have shown you that a race war will most likely begin when our U.S. economy falters.
Disrespect for Authority
Recently, a member of the press called me investigating whether the Philadelphia Church of God (the organization which sponsors this magazine) had Christian Identity or militia sympathies. The answer is a definite NO! We do believe in following the entire Bible. We believe and preach prophecy! We know that the key which unlocks prophetic meaning for our time is the knowledge that the white, English-speaking peoples of Britain and the former Commonwealth, northwestern Europe and the United States are the physical descendants of the ten lost tribes of Israel. But we are not anti-Semitic or racist in our thinking. We do not believe in protesting or overthrowing the U.S. federal government. We pay our taxes. And we most certainly are not arming ourselves to do battle against evil at Armageddon! We firmly believe Jesus Christ’s own words: “For all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (Matt. 26:52).
There is not space enough here to explain the historic roots of our nation. So, please write for your free copy of our booklet The United States and Britain in Prophecy. Written by Herbert W. Armstrong, this small book explains why we believe the peoples of the United States, Britain and Western Europe are the modern descendants of ancient Israel. Realize, this exciting biblical instruction has nothing to do with the supremacy of races. It does reveal the end-time prophecies concerning our nations. This booklet shows that our nations will be punished severely for our many sins. Almighty God will direct that punishment.
It is important for all to recognize that the pcg is made up of members from all races. The pcg knows that God’s true Church is a living spiritual organism made up of all races. The pcg is an international church. We have congregations all over the world—in Europe, Africa, Asia, North and South America. The Apostle Paul taught very clearly, all who are converted are of the seed of Abraham (Rom. 9:6-8). Study Romans, chapter 11. Through the preaching of Paul, the Gentiles were given the opportunity to be grafted into Israel. Remember, Abraham is the father of the faithful—no matter what the race (Gal. 3:9). (If you have any further questions concerning pcg beliefs, feel free to write us at the address listed inside the front cover of this magazine.)
Respect for Government
Our generation has grown up in an era of total disrespect for all authority. This sickness has invaded our homes and our social institutions. Members of the pcg know that all government protest is a symptom of that sickness.
The Bible explains clearly the relationship of a true Christian to human government. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation” (Rom. 13:1-2). Remember, Paul was not just speaking for himself here. He is giving Jesus Christ’s directive to all Christians in every generation. Notice it clearly. Those who resist—those who refuse to submit to authority—will receive damnation. True Christians are to be submissive to government in this world.
Paul continues, “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake” (vv. 3-5). Paul is teaching something here that the Prophet Daniel learned and taught. All authority on Earth is actually allowed by God (Dan. 4:17; 2:21). This does not mean that human governments are perfect. In fact, most have been very abusive. And eventually, all will fail us. God has established human authority until His perfect kingdom comes (Dan. 2:44). Until that time we will never have perfect government.
In the meantime, Paul states that we do not need to fear government if we are submissive. A true Christian is to honor and respect authority and submit to every ordinance of man. In fact, Paul shows that if we do this, it will be noticed and it will go well for us. But if we don’t submit out of protest, or because we think something is not right or unfair, we should fear—those who rule have the power to punish. And sometimes they will punish severely. The Apostle Peter taught the same as did Paul (I Pet. 2:13-17).
Only when obedience to human rules and regulations would violate the laws of God should a true Christian steadfastly decline to obey. Obedience to God and His laws always must come first. Yet if obeying God gets us into trouble with the government, then we still must submit to its penalties. This was clearly demonstrated by Christ and all the disciples. Jesus Christ, falsely accused of insurrection, submitted to execution by the Roman government. The early apostles refused to obey Jewish leaders when told to stop preaching. But they were willing to submit to punishment (Acts 4:19-20).
Paul continued, “For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour” (Rom. 13:6-7). Government administration does cost money. Here Paul commands that we should pay taxes, not protest them. Some reading this article will not agree. But no matter what clever arguments exist out there, this verse deals with paying taxes. The simple fact remains, Jesus Christ commanded His followers to pay their taxes (Matt. 17:24-27; 22:17-22).
Pray for the Authority
For the near future, the tension between the militias and the federal government is likely to grow much worse. Admittedly, there are serious problems in our government. But gang rule through anarchy is no solution. Our government problems are an indication of a greater spiritual sickness in the entire nation. All Americans must come to realize that only Jesus Christ can solve the serious problems in our government. They are deep-rooted, spiritual problems.
Those in the militia would spend their time much better if they would heed the admonition Paul wrote to Timothy: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:1-4).
The only right and true way to change the problems in the federal government is to pray to God. That is the only effort that will truly get results. When we pray to God, He will answer and change things that need to be changed. Prayer is the only way to ensure the safety of all men. If all Americans will turn to God in heartfelt prayer with repentance, we will not need to fear becoming a part of a Ruby Ridge, Waco or Oklahoma City bombing. God protects His own!