The Minutemen and the Mainstream
Michelle Goldberg printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 02:42:50 PM EST

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One of the most disturbing phenomenon of the Bush era has been the mainstreaming of the far right. Not long, those who consorted with militia types or proclaimed their plans to institute a theocracy in America  weren't openly welcomed in GOP circles -- even extremely conservative ones. Larry Pratt was forced to resign as campaign chairman of Pat Buchanan's 1996 presidential campaign because of his ties to militia groups and theocratic white supremacists. Ralph Reed called on the religious right to disavow Christian Reconstructionism, calling it " an authoritarian ideology that threatens the most basic civil liberties of a free and democratic society."

In the last few years, though, the center of American politics has lurched so far rightward that it's increasingly hard to tell where the governing mainstream ends and the fringe begins. Early this year, I covered a conference in Washington, D.C. called Confronting the Judicial War on Faith that brought together  Republican congressmen and hill staffers with leading Christian Reconstructionists and neo-confederates.

 At the time, it seemed that the far right was riding conservative rage over the courts -- especially in the aftermath of the Terri Shiavo case -- towards greater influence and respectability.  Now it looks like anti-immigration anger may prove an even more useful vehicle.

A few days ago, The New York Times published a story headlined, "Capitol's Pariah on Immigration Is Now a Power." Rachel L. Swarns wrote:

For nearly a decade, Representative Tom Tancredo, Republican of Colorado, has been dismissed by his critics as little more than an angry man with a microphone, a lonely figure who rails against immigration and battles his own president and party.

So radical were his proposals - calling for a fence along the United States border with Canada, for instance - and so fierce were his attacks on fellow Republicans who did not share his views that many of his colleagues tried to avoid him. Mr. Tancredo said Karl Rove, President Bush's senior adviser, had told him not 'to darken the doorstep of the White House.'

But last week, the man denounced by critics on the left and on the right suddenly emerged as an influential lawmaker. Pressured by conservative constituents angered by the continuing flow of illegal immigrants into the United States, Republicans rallied around Mr. Tancredo to defy the president and produce the toughest immigration legislation in more than a decade.

Tom Tancredo is a vocal supporter of the Minuteman Project, a vigilante effort to stop illegal immigrants from coming over the Mexican border. As author and blogger Dave Neiwert has assiduously documented , the Minuteman Project is an offshoot of the Patriot Movement, and has numerous ties to white supremacist groups. That hasn't stopped the conservative movement from embracing the Minutemen wholeheartedly, though. In fact, the website -- a spin-off of the semi-respectable Heritage Foundation -- has just named the Minutemen finalists for its "Citizen of the Year" Award. Townhall columnist Mike Adams  calls them  "true heroes" and urges readers to "join the fight by doing the job our cowardly politicians are unwilling to do themselves."

It's worth looking at who these heroes really are. The Southern Poverty Law Center  offers  a snapshot:

The night of April 3, armed vigilantes camped along Border Road in a series of watch posts set-up for the Minuteman Project, a month-long action in which revolving casts of 150 to 200 anti-immigration militants wearing cheap plastic 'Undocumented Border Patrol Agent' badges mobilized in southeastern Arizona. Their stated goal was to 'do the job our government refuses to do" and "protect America' from the 'tens of millions of invading illegal aliens who are devouring and plundering our nation.'

At Station Two, Minuteman volunteers grilled bratwursts and fantasized about murder.

'It should be legal to kill illegals,' said Carl, a 69-year old retired Special Forces veteran who fought in Vietnam and now lives out West. 'Just shoot 'em on sight. That's my immigration policy recommendation. You break into my country, you die.'

Carl was armed with a revolver chambered to fire shotgun shells. He wore this hand cannon in a holster below a shirt that howled 'American bad asses' in red, white and blue. The other vigilantes assigned to Station Two included a pair of self-professed members of the National Alliance, a violent neo-Nazi organization. These men, who gave their names only as Johnny and Michael, were outfitted in full-body camouflage and strapped with semi-automatic pistols.

Earlier that day, Johnny and Michael had scouted sniper positions in the rolling, cactus-studded foothills north of Border Road, taking compass readings and drawing maps for future reference.

'I agree completely,' Michael said. 'You get up there with a rifle and start shooting four or five of them a week, the other four or five thousand behind them are going to think twice about crossing that line.'

As anti-immigrant rage boils, I think we're going to hear a lot more of such sentiments -- some coming from inside the Republican Party. For now, the GOP seems to have given up on its conflicted attempt to win over Hispanic voters and is throwing in its lot with the xenophobes. And this could produce something we haven't seen before in this country -- an armed gang affiliated with elected officials.

And this could produce something we haven't seen before in this country -- an armed gang affiliated with elected officials.

I must quibble with that.  That is exactly what the KKK was in the South.  This is just another step backwards into our not too distant history in this country.

by NorthernLights on Tue Dec 27, 2005 at 07:33:39 PM EST

NorthernLights, you're right, I should have been clearer. Obviously, the Klan had ties to the Democratic Party in the South. But for the most part, my understanding is that officialdom didn't want to be openly affiliated with armed thugs. That's why establishment types coalesced around the Citizens Councils -- the uptown Klan -- instead. What's alarming about the conservative embrace of the Minutemen is in part the openness of it -- you have congressmen speaking at their rallies and major media outlets celebrating their exploits. I could be wrong, but I always though mainstream support for the Klan was a little more covert...

by Michelle Goldberg on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 11:09:34 AM EST
Those still very much exist, only it's called the Council of Conservative Citizens.

There are actually a number of dominionists explicitly tied to racialist groups or movements, including:

Roy Moore and a plethora of "neo-Confederate" and "uptown racist" groups like the CCC

Tony Perkins (Family Research Council) and not only the CCC but also the Klan itself (specifically David Duke's Klan group--reportedly even exchanging money and mailing lists)

Matthew Trewhella (Ministries to the Preborn, a "pro-life" group which is considered extreme even within the pro-life movement) and "Christian Militia" groups that are themselves allied with Christian Identity practitioners

the Constitution Party (and its leaders) and not only "Christian Milita" groups but outright racist organisations like the Klan, Christian Identity, etc.

Chaldecon and League of the South (another "uptown Klan" type group that is racist and also explicitly promotes Christian Reconstructionism in general)

and so on.

I've actually got a list here of known associations between the better-known hate and racist groups and the dominionist movement.  

If one includes the "word-faith" branches of pentecostalism that are essentially dominionist at their core, William Branham (who essentially founded much of the basis of both word-faith and "latter rain" doctrines, both of which are the basis of dominion theology among pentecostal "Christian Nationalists") was also supposedly a Klan member (per this link and in fact the premillenial dispensationalism movement is essentially a "sister group" to Christian Identity itself (both are descendants of "British Israelism", as this link (speaking of the first radio-evangelist within the Assemblies of God) notes.

by dogemperor on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 01:31:27 PM EST

I think most regimes of an authoritarian nature have a terroristic "private" element in them during some phase of their evolution.  That's what these private militias basically are, terrorist gangs who direct their efforts at the citizens (or non-citizens in the case of the Minutemen) themselves without official approval but often without any real government effort to stop them either.  The state can always make the semi-legimate claim that "we never sactioned that" when anyone cries foul.  This was the Klan's modus operandi for decades.  The southern state governments just looked the other way and let the Klan run amok.  You see this today in the Sudan where the government tacitly approves the actions of the Janjawid in Darfur.  It's always a way for a state to get the "benefit" of a far more violent and extreme policy than the one they officially endorse.

by NorthernLights on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 06:34:33 PM EST

...because, of all things, I was reporting just last night to Defcon America regarding a big dominionist church and homeschool curricula writer who has apparently paired up with the Minutemen and other racialist groups:
Church of Christian Liberty, Prospect Heights, IL. (Website:

Reporting for lobbying violations.  From what I can gather, church is hardline dominionist.

Specifically, church operates Christian Liberty Academy (  as well as dominionist correspondence-school curriculum (CLASS; as well as a nationwide publisher, "Christian Liberty Press"; also per its missions page lists as a mission a dominionist group itself, Concerned Christian Americans, and notes it is a lobbying organisation; per this link is listed as major dominionist lobbying organisation in state.  (Relationship is likely similar to or identical to that of Evangel World Prayer Center and Freedom's Heritage Forum in Louisville, KY.)

Christian Liberty Academy, as well as its homeschool curriculum, is blatantly dominionist; see its list of "Responsibilities to the USA" for examples.  Per its own admission it is unaccredited (see its profile page) which would possibly prevent any of its graduates or persons educated using its programs from being eligible to enter many state universities other than by obtaining a GED.

CLASS is explicitly dominionist as well (per its worldview page); the page on "Biblical Worldview Curriculum" (at this link) explicitly promotes dominion theology, even including the term "dominion".  The "Government" section even explicitly teaches children the "right" politicians to vote for.

The church also is affiliated with an unaccredited college, Whitefield College ( which offers college correspondence courses to persons who have completed CLASS curricula.  Much like other schools specifically targeting persons from dominionist correspondence schools like A Beka and Bob Jones University's courses, the school is explicitly dominionist and in fact blatantly states its goal is to train people in dominionist "spiritual warfare" (per its Educational Objectives page) and is essentially a dominionist madrassa to educate "god warriors" to take over legitimate secular government institutions (per its page on "Christian Worldview" curricula).

Christian Liberty Press publishes and sells several blatantly dominionist books, including works by Gary North (as shown on its "economics and government" section of its bookstore)--nearly all the books on government on the site are written by Gary North, in fact, and explicitly promote dominion theology and Christian Reconstructionism.  (Again, this is listed as an official branch of the church per Church of Christian Liberty's "Who We Are" page.)

Per multiple articles, including in Southern Poverty Law Center, a church organised a rally and organising committee for the Chicago Minutemen, an anti-immigration group (per this link); per at least one article the church school this was organised at was identified as Christian Liberty Academy (per a site organising a counterprotest as well as by the Chicago Minutemen group itself).  Minutemen anti-immigration groups nationwide have been associated with both dominionism and, even more distressingly, overt Klan and neo-Nazi infiltration and recruitment as well as "Christian militia" activity.

Per at least one article on a pro-dominionist site the church has already had its tax exempt status threatened at least once (per this site--warning, dominionist and also a bit sympathetic to "tax protester" movements tied with "Christian Militia" movements in general)

The church itself may be linked with both Chaldecon and Moody Bible Institute (per Chaldecon at this link).

The church has lobbied with HSLDA in past (per a discussion forum focusing on New Hampshire homeschooling; this is relevant as HSLDA has ramrodded through a bill that essentially bans "unschooling" and other forms of homeschooling not done through a correspondence school, which is a common tactic HSLDA has taken to ban non-dominionist homeschool programs (nearly all dominionist "homeschool" programs are actually correspondence schools, usually tied with a dominionist theological seminary)). Another item which the church is heavily involved in re lobbying is legalising dominionist correspondence schools and exempting them from oversight, even as non-dominionist homeschool programs are restricted (per this "Christian Homeschooling" blog (warning, pro-dominionist, subtly demonises inclusive homeschooling).

Distressingly, the Minutemen movement is not the only hate group known to be associated with Church of Christian Liberty; reportedly the church has also had lobbying attempts by American Vision, an explicitly dominionist group which is also listed as a hate group by Southern Poverty Law Center (listing of affiliation at this Google-archived link at a "Christian Homeschooler" forum and listing of American Vision as hate group at Southern Poverty Law Center). Between this and Chaldecon associations (of note, SPLC also notes Chaldecon as a hate group), it can be safely stated the church is at best Christian Reconstructionist and associates with some downright scary people, possibly including Christian Militia groups (which Gary North has association with, and which have been documented as appearing at Minutemen events in other areas).

Reportedly (and of special interest to DefCon America) the church has attempted to lobby people, including taking out full-page adverts in the Los Angeles Times, to get people to limit the IRS's ability to investigate violations of law regarding electioneering--probably due to its own tax troubles (per this report on lobbying efforts by spiritually abusive groups in general).  Reportedly the church has been extremely reluctant to cooperate with the IRS in its investigation, and the matter is apparently in litigation (per this link--warning, site is pro-dominionist).  There is one case in which apparently the founder of the church attempted to use the church as a tax shelter for his house in an attempt to avoid a government lien on his property (per this link).

by dogemperor on Wed Dec 28, 2005 at 12:15:44 AM EST

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