A second Civil War. Armed Christians practicing military maneuvers in the hills. White supremacist extremists planning the elimination of “enemies”: Mexicans, Blacks, Jews, Gays. The U.S.A. plunged into domestic anarchy.
For most Americans, these scenarios are just the stuff of cheap pulp fiction and bad Netflix movies. For others, however, this stuff is only too real. Consider Matt Shea, a Republican who represents a rural district in the Washington State Legislature. On paper, his credentials look pretty good: law degree from Gonzaga, and a veteran of American wars in Iraq and Bosnia.
But on closer examination, Shea is anything but normal. For, as the New York Times is reporting, Shea and his friends have “visions of a Christian alternative government…he and right-wing activists [are] preparing for civil strife.”
And they’re not just babbling about this civil war while downing pints at the local pub. No, Shea “distributed to his closest followers a ‘Biblical Basis for War’ document that calls for the ‘surrender’ of those who favor abortion rights, same-sex marriage, idolatry and communism…If they do not yield,” the document demands, “kill all males.”
Who is Matt Shea? He hosts a radio show, Patriot Radio, on something called the American Christian Network (ACN), which is a sort of Fox News for evangelicals. Among Shaw’s calls on his show are for the creation of a new, 51st American state, “Liberty,” that would be formed from Eastern Washington seceding from the [liberal] western part of the state. He routinely attacks Child Protective Services (which rescues abused babies and children from irresponsible, often criminal parents who endanger their health and well-being), and is waging a vendetta on Washington’s Attorney-General for “persecuting Christian business owners who refuse to participate in same-sex weddings.” He sent a Tweet to Obama asking, quote, “Hey B. Why does ur bio still say president?”
When the State Legislature [of which he is part] passed same-sex marriage, Shea attacked it for not protecting “the constitutional rights of religious conscience” since it prevented “private businesses” such as bakeries and photographers from discriminating against gay people. When he was criticized for suggesting that “Liberty” be purged of all Muslims, Shaw compared himself to Jesus Christ, who was “crucified and died” for his beliefs.
Shaw’s devotion to Christianity is undermined by his personal behavior, which is somewhat less than you’d expect from a model of Christly rectitude. His first wife divorced him after charging him with being “physically and emotionally abusive.” Later, he was arrested for an incident of road rage during which he “pulled a gun during a confrontation with another motorist.”
And now, this stupidity about secession and civil war. Well, Shea’s antics haven’t gone unnoticed by his fellow legislators. A few weeks ago, after it discovered the evidence of Shea’s threatening statements and possible treason, the Washington State House issued a detailed Report, stating that Shea “planned and participated in domestic terrorism against the United States.” This was because he—Shea—had joined forces in 2015-2016 with the notorious rancher, Ammon Bundy, and his father, Cliven Bundy, when they and other armed vigilantes confronted the U.S. government, which had insisted they take their cattle off Federal lands.
(That case was eventually settled; the charges against the insurrectionists were dismissed “with prejudice,” which is not an acquittal.)
The Democratic-controlled Washington State House report was scathing in its language. “Representative Shea, as a leader of the Patriot Movement, engaged in and promoted…armed conflicts of political violence against the United States government…Representative Shea [even] led covert strategic pre-planning in advance of the…
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