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Attacked By Hate
July 7, 1996

2 CHRONICLES 7:12-20

America the beautiful is being attacked, attacked by hate, attacked not just by propaganda, but by acts of violence-- terrorism. I have listed some hate groups in the bulletin this morning. In addition, a group called Vipers was arrested in Arizona this past week. They were planning to bomb federal buildings in Phoenix.

Let me hasten to add a disclaimer. You may find a group that uses one of these words in its title, but may not be a hate group I'm describing this morning. Don't hold me to a universal indictment of all groups that use some of these words. What I am doing by listing these titles is to raise a red flag. When you come in contact with a group using one of these names, take the time to investigate.

My purpose in listing such groups, and in preaching this sermon is to make us aware of the prevalence and growing numbers of groups that exist on hate. Many of these groups are devoted to destroying our government by violent attacks, such as the Oklahoma City bombing. Militia of Montana spokesman, Bob Fletcher, announced to the press following the Oklahoma City bombing in which 169 people were killed, "Expect more bombs." I went to Bakersfield on Friday, and discovered a radio station in Delano that broadcasts the hate group ideology. They believe that the federal government is secretly preparing to conquer and destroy them. Remember Waco seems to be a rallying cry.

For the purpose of this sermon, I will lump all these groups together and call them Patriots with a capital P because that is what they call themselves. Patriot is the single label claimed by all of them. I preach this sermon as a warning. I preach this sermon to bring the Patriot movement into the light so we all can see who and what they are. There have been times in Methodism when we have not talked about the devil, evil, hatred, cults, and enemies. As a result, some Methodist young people have been caught up in some of these movements. They were naive, and had not been forewarned about evil. Not all movements are good. Not all groups are concerned with the common good. Not all people are nice! To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Evil flourishes when good people do nothing.

Beware of Patriots with a capital P. They advocate the dismantling-- by force if necessary-- of the entire United States government, and the repudiation of many Constitutional rights. They rage against what they call the New World Order, and the old world order they seek to revive is the one in which women could not vote and blacks were not citizens. I'm quoting from the publication, False Patriots, published by the Southern Poverty Law Center of which Ellie and I have been supporting members for many years. It was formed in 1979 to monitor white supremacist activity and hate crime.

White supremacy is not a new movement. Its theological roots go back to the 19th century to a religious movement called British-Israelism. It was a small but vigorous movement in Victorian English Protestant circles that claimed the British were the descendants of the ten lost tribes of Israel. I suspect the Irish were not included in the deal!

In the recent past, a group called Christian Identity broke off from British-Israelism and created an anti-Semitic belief system that is having a deep influence on the Patriot movement. Christian Identity is not organized. It is not a denomination; yet it is comprised of numerous small churches, Bible study groups, and political organizations. Yes, beware of and check out Bible study groups!

Christian Identity is built around three key beliefs. I'm quoting from the book, Religion and the Racist Right, by Michael Barkun.

1) White Aryans (remember Hitler's Nazism?) are descendants of the biblical tribes of Israel (how dark complexioned Middle Easterners became white, blond and blue-eyed is not clear!) and are on this earth to do God's work.

2) Jews are not Israelites! They separate Jews from the tribes of Israel, even though Judah from which comes the name Jew was one of the 12 tribes, and was the name of the southern kingdom, called Judea in the New Testament. They believe Jews are not Israelites, but are children of the devil. They believe the Jews descended from Eve who had sex with the devil in the Garden of Eden!

3) The world is on the verge of the final, apocalyptic struggle between good and evil, in which the Aryans must do battle with the Jewish conspiracy and its allies so that the world can be redeemed.

No one knows how big the Patriot movement is. Time magazine estimates the number of Patriots as high as 12 million, which is more than United Methodists and almost as many as Southern Baptists. There are armed militias in all 50 states. Patriots have described their movement as a hydra, the mythological beast with many heads. When one head was cut off, it was replaced by two others. The metaphor is regrettably appropriate.

Though they have no unified leadership, these Patriots are connected like no rebel force has ever been. On the Internet and by fax, they share their gripes against government and trade tips on how to avoid tax laws and fight government regulations. At gun shows and survivalist expos, they equip themselves for the armed confrontation they believe is inevitable. Through mail-ordered manuals, they learn how to build bombs, conduct surveillance and disable public utilities. On the weekends in isolated fields, they practice the arts of guerrilla warfare.

Patriots participate in the movement on various levels.

There are the armchair Patriots. They correspond by fax and modem and immerse themselves in their theology and political ideology.

There are the lifestyle Patriots. They might homeschool their children, practice survival skills, or follow rigid Identity doctrines.

A few are professional Patriots. They serve as media spokespersons and operate Patriot mail order businesses.

Others are outlaw Patriots. They might refuse to pay income tax, fail to appear in court, resist arrest, collect illegal weapons, and join illegal militias.

But the most dedicated and the most dangerous are the underground Patriots. They form secret cells of two to ten people and plan acts of terrorism and large-scale sabotage against public officials and institutions.

Who are these people? Some like guns and enjoy dressing up and playing soldier. Some feel disenfranchised from society. They feel left out and isolated. Some have a deep hatred and find scapegoats on which to blame their troubles. The current scapegoats are minorities, Jews, and the federal government. Patriots are united in their hatred of and rage against the federal government. They come from all regions of the country, all walks of life, and they are our neighbors. There is a group in San Joaquin County, probably in the Tracy area. There are two groups next door in Stanislaus County. There might be a group in Mariposa. To the south of us, there is the Free Enterprise Society in Clovis, California Patriot Network in Fresno, Second Amendment Committee in Hanford, Tulare County Militia in Porterville, and the Pilot Connection Society in Visalia.

To summarize, if Patriots had their way, the United States would become a nation hostile to democracy, a loose collection of independent jurisdictions where white men would govern according to their interpretations of the Bible and selected portions of the Constitution. Women and minorities would not vote. Protections for the environment and for the country's most vulnerable citizens would be stripped away. There would be private armies, and no one would pay federal taxes. The dangerous and frightening part of the Patriot movement is their commitment to use violence to achieve their goals.

Sisters and brothers, beware of Patriots with a capital P. Resist their influence. And, let us pray for our country which is under attack by hate groups who call themselves Patriots. God promised Solomon, 2 Chronicles 7:14,

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

ã 1996 Douglas I. Norris