southern poverty law

Hate In God’s Name – Part 3
September 25, 2017 Daryl Johnson
Mark of the Beast Conspiracy

Some SCM propaganda includes Christian fundamentalist beliefs concerning millennialism, ends times prophecy and the apocalypse — including the Mark of the Beast Conspiracy. They compare today’s society to the ancient city of Babylon (allegedly destroyed for its rampant sin, corruption and rejection of God). According to the conspiracy, Satan rules our world (e.g. Babylon). The “Whore of Babylon” consists of today’s Western nations (comprising 10 wealthy, business-oriented nations). They also believe that the anti-Christ will soon rise from one of these nations. Using their interpretation of the Bible, some sovereign citizens surmise that Babylonian law is controlled by merchants (i.e. corporations). Since the Bible’s Book of Revelation supposedly says that the “Law of the Merchants” primarily operates on the sea, sovereign citizens equate it to today’s “Maritime Law.” Some sovereign citizens use this interpretation of the Book of Revelation to support their Redemption Scam. “The warfare in Babylon is between the spiritual and material forces,” said Verl K. Speer. “The Beast derives his power from materialism, deception and ignorance of the Law. He exercises this power under the Law of Merchants within the jurisdiction of the Law of the Sea, specifically that of Admiralty/Maritime Law because of the maritime nature of Babylon itself, the sum of its qualities and characteristics.” According to Speers, Babylon, Satan and the anti-Christ are hell-bent on keeping everyone else enslaved in debt, regulation and oversight. Their objectives are simple; financial profit and power in furtherance of their own self interests. “By succumbing to the materialistic lures and teaching of the Pied Pipers of Babylon, the true nature of Causation and the purpose of our own Being are hidden from us,” Speers said.

Financial Fraud

Sovereign citizens are known to use Biblical passages to justify tax fraud as well as defaulting on credit card payments or bank loans. They most often cite Old Testament scriptures, which reference paying usury and taking money from the poor, such Ezekiel 22:12-13, Proverbs 28:8, Deuteronomy 23:19, and Leviticus 25:36-37. Sovereign citizen extremists further cite Nehemiah 9:32-37 to bolster the belief that oppressive taxation results from sin. Also, 1 Kings 12:13-19 is used to justify rebellion against the government for oppressive taxation.

Ezekiel 22:12-13(KJV)

12 In thee have they taken gifts to shed blood; thou hast taken usury and increase, and thou hast greedily gained of thy neighbours by extortion, and hast forgotten me, saith the Lord God.

13 Behold, therefore I have smitten mine hand at thy dishonest gain which thou hast made, and at thy blood which hath been in the midst of thee.


Corporation Sole

Sovereign citizen extremists have also been known to form fictitious churches or obtain bogus pastoral certifications in an attempt to avoid paying taxes. They usually obtain fake ecclesiastical credentials online or through mail-order catalogues and fraudulent ministerial schools. This financial scam is called “Corporation Sole.” The Corporation Sole scam attempts to take advantage of special tax benefits available to legitimate churches, ecclesiastical leaders, and other religious groups. Scam artists initially apply for incorporation under the false pretext of being a “minister” or “pastor” of a bogus religious organization or group. They falsely claim that such an arrangement entitles them to exemption from Federal income taxes as an organization described in USC 501(c) (3) laws. Sovereign citizen gurus have also organized seminars — charging up to $1,000 or more per person — to learn how to file a phony Corporation Sole. Participants are manipulated into believing that their counterfeit Corporation Sole provides a “legal” way to avoid paying income taxes, child support, and other personal debts by hiding their assets in a tax exempt entity. Some sovereign citizens have been known to change their residence to a church — even putting up signs on their property with the name of their fake religious organization. Courts have routinely rejected this tax avoidance tactic as frivolous, upheld criminal tax evasion convictions against those making or promoting such arguments and imposed civil penalties for falsely claiming corporation sole status.

Other Fraudulent Schemes

Sovereign citizens have also used religion as cover for other fraudulent schemes. For example, on April 24, 2009, Jerry R. Williamson, a promoter of the Florida-based “Guiding Light of God Ministries” was convicted of mail fraud. The indictment further alleges that Eddie Ray Kahn founded and led the group from 1996 through 2004. During that time period, the Guiding Light of God Ministries enrolled more than 4,000 customers from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and several foreign countries. Defendants Williamson, Stephen C. Hunter, Danny True and Allan J. Tanguay allegedly worked with Kahn to develop and sell tax defiance schemes based on deliberate misrepresentations of the legal foundation of the tax system.

Militia extremists

Many will remember the 2014 standoff between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and an anti-government extremist rancher named Cliven Bundy in Bunkerville, Nevada. After a decades-long legal battle, a federal judge finally issued a court order for the BLM to seize Bundy’s cattle, which had been illegally grazing on federal land. When BLM rangers attempted to serve the judge’s order, a heated confrontation ensued between them and Bundy family members. This clash, recorded on video, led to the mobilization of hundreds of armed “Bundy supporters” (e.g. militia members, sovereign citizens, Oath Keepers, III Percenters and other antigovernment extremists) who descended upon Bundy’s ranch in April. They rallied to defend the Bundy family against a perceived overzealous and tyrannical government — some even pointing long guns at federal agents during the weeks-long standoff. Federal authorities eventually backed down, fearing a bloodbath. Many extremist Bundy supporters viewed the government’s retreat as a sign from God and a victory for their cause, especially since Cliven Bundy had prayed for divine intervention during the crisis.

In January 2016, Bundy’s sons, Ryan and Ammon, again mobilized their fellow antigovernment extremists to defend what they perceived as big government’s encroachment on the Constitutional rights of land owners in Burns, Oregon. The Bundy brothers orchestrated an armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, a Federal facility, which lasted 41 days. As with Waco and Ruby Ridge during the 1990s, the Bunkerville and Malheur standoffs today used religious concepts to guide and motivate others into recruiting for extremist causes and radicalizing some into open rebellion against federal authority. Some were even inspired to break the law as a result of the religious concepts and scripture being incorporated into these events.

Mormon Constitutionalism

Despite extensive media coverage of these events, few know that religion played a key role in both standoffs. Cliven, Ryan, and Ammon Bundy are “Mormon Constitutionalists” — a unique brand of right-wing extremism linked to LDS Church members and their religious beliefs concerning prophecies of Christ’s return, America’s divine founding, and God’s role of inspiring America’s Founding Fathers and the U.S. Constitution. Cliven Bundy and his family referred to Mormon scriptures to justify their actions against the government. Bundy believed his grazing rights on federal land stemmed from his Mormon ancestry. Bundy rationalized that Mormon pioneers had worked the land long before the BLM was established and that God created the federal land in question. Therefore, the government had no right to control who uses the land.

Bundy, his family, and supporters reportedly fasted and prayed for “the spirit of their forefathers to be with them” during the confrontation. In 2014, Cliven reportedly used the Mormon belief in personal revelation from God to gain divine insight into organizing and carrying out the Bunkerville standoff. Ammon Bundy, who is named after a well-known Book of Mormon figure, would later use the same religious concepts as his father for the Malheur takeover.

A particularly vocal militia extremist at the Malheur standoff was a person who used the moniker “Captain Moroni,” a battle-hardened Book of Mormon character who purportedly resisted government tyranny in ancient America. Captain Moroni is the perfect religious character for the modern militia movement because of his “Title of Liberty” — a banner made from Moroni’s torn coat created as an inspiration for the people to defend their religion, freedoms and families (see Book of Mormon, Alma 46:12-13). At the Bunkerville and Malheur standoffs, banners bearing similar slogans as Moroni’s, such as “Liberty, Freedom, For God We Stand” and “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, our peace, our wives, and our children,” were flown by militia members and other antigovernment extremists.

America — A Christian Nation

As demonstrated by these standoffs, militia extremists compare themselves to “Christian Patriots” and the minutemen of the American Revolution in an attempt to “save” the perceived ideals and original intent of the U.S. Constitution. The militia movement wants to return America to what they perceive as the country’s Judeo-Christian roots. They have adopted some of the symbols associated with the American Revolution, such as the using the term “Minutemen” in group names, hosting anti-tax events (much like the Boston Tea Party), celebrating April 19th — the anniversary date of the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1775, and using the Gadsden Minutemen flag with its revolutionary “Don’t Tread on Me” slogan. Many militia members have a deep respect and reverence for America’s Founding Fathers. Their admiration takes on religious overtones. They believe that the U.S. Constitution was “divinely inspired,” that the Founding Fathers adhered to Judeo-Christian principles and were actually chosen and led by God to create the United States of America. For example, an Indiana Militia Corps’ Citizenship recruitment pamphlet states, “the Christian faith was the anchor of the founding fathers of these United States.” Further, an Indiana Militia Corps’ Citizenship training manual states, “People of faith, Christians in particular, recognize that God is the source of all things, and that Rights come from God alone.” Many militia extremists erroneously believe that the principles the founding fathers used to create the U.S. Constitution are derived solely from the Bible. It is important to note that many people not associated with militia extremism believe similarly about the U.S. and America’s Founding Fathers. This does not make them extremists. Some militia groups, which often organize according to a military structure, have been known to appoint chaplains within the group. The militia chaplain is responsible not only for the spiritual welfare of militia members and their families, but also provides spiritual leadership for the group, which includes giving a religious interpretation for the militia’s goals and objectives.

Apocalyptic Fears and Prepping

The militia movement has historically feared, predicted and anticipated a cataclysmic event that could lead to the collapse of the United States. Some militia members believe that such cataclysmic events are based in Biblical prophecies. For example, some militia members believe that the so-called “Anti-Christ” in the last days predicted in the Book of Revelation is a world leader who unites all nations under a “one world government” before being exposed as the agent of Satan. They further believe that Jesus will battle the Anti-Christ before restoring his kingdom on earth. Militia members cite the creation of communism, the establishment of the United Nations and attacks against their Constitutional rights as “signs” or “evidence” that the Anti-Christ is actively working to create the “one world government” predicted in the Bible (e.g. Book of Revelation). For example, toward the end of the 1990s, many in the militia movement prepared for the turn of the millennium (e.g. Y2K) due to the impending belief that American society would collapse and result in anarchy and social chaos. The failure of the Y2K prophecy left many in the militia movement disenchanted and many left as a result.

Antigovernment conspiracy theories and apocalyptic “end times” Biblical prophecies are also known to motivate militia extremists and groups to stockpile food, ammunition and weapons. These apocalyptic teachings have also been linked with the radicalization of militia extremist members. For example, eight members of the Hutaree militia in Adrian, Michigan, were arrested in March 2010 for conspiring to attack police officers and blow up their funeral processions. All but two were later acquitted by a federal judge for conspiring to kill police officers. According to the Hutaree, its doctrine is “based on faith and most of all the testimony of Jesus.” On their website, the Hutaree reference the story of the 10 virgins (Matthew 25: 1-12) as the basis for their existence, “The wise ones took enough oil to last the whole night, just in case the bridegroom was late. The foolish ones took not enough oil to last the whole night and figured that the bridegroom would arrive earlier than he did.” According to the Hutaree, the bridegrooms represent the Christian church today; the oil represents faith, and those with enough faith could last through the darkest and most doubtful times,which Hutaree members believe is upon them. Further, militia members often reason that defending themselves, their families, and communities against the New World Order is a literal battle between good (i.e. God) and evil (i.e. Satan or the devil). Many people not associated with militia extremism believe we are living in the last days or are engaged in preparedness-related activities. Again, this does not necessarily make them extremists.

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