Who Are the Hutaree Militia, And Why Do They Want to Kill Cops?
Continued from previous page
Apocalyptic stories are an integral part of the American psyche, bleeding from theology into popular culture over the past two centuries: from Moby Dick to High Noon to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Hal Lindsey (with C. C. Carlson) ignited the fuse of contemporary fundamentalist apocalyptic expectation with The Late Great Planet Earth published in 1970 by Zondervan.
Some 20-40 percent of the population of the United States tell pollsters that the biblical prophecies about an End Times battle between Godly Christians and the evil forces of Satan predict actual future history. About 10-15 percent of our neighbors say they hope to see the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in their lifetime. The numbers vary over time and due to the ways questions are structured. It is clear, however, that more people are excited by this type of apocalyptic belief than can be explained by counting the actual parishoners sitting in the pews in fundamentalist churches. Most of these folks, however, are not considering actual criminal acts or violence.
Brenda E. Brasher notes that apocalypticism can be constructive or destructive, pointing to the sustaining “role of apocalyptic Christianity among African slaves brought to the United States,” and in the “anti-slavery abolition movements and the Civil Rights movement.” However, if the scapegoated “other” is “constructed as wholly evil, then the ramifications are really horrendous,” warns Brasher.
“This is not a disagreement, but a struggle with evil incarnate, so there is no structure for a peaceful reconciliation” in which “people are cast in their roles as either enemy or friend and there is no such thing as middle ground,” Brasher explains, “In the battle with evil, can you really say you are neutral?”
The problem, then, is not Christian fundamentalism or apocalyptic belief per se but with forms of Christianity (or any religion) that condone or ignore scapegoating, fundamentalist movements that become totalitarian, or apocalypticism combined with dualistic demonization.
Where can we find this? I have a shelf of books published in the past 20 years in which right-wing fundamentalists warn of an impending apocalyptic battle pitting Godly Christians against sinful secular elites, those in favor of government social welfare programs, Muslims, New World Order internationalists seeking global cooperation, people working for peace, abortion providers, sinful homosexuals, and many more named scapegoats.
Militias, Tea Parties, and Right-Wing Populism
Why are there so many angry people? The Tea Parties are part of a broad Patriot Movement in the United States cobbled together from several preexisting formations on the political right:
- Economic libertarians who worry about big government collectivist tyranny.
- Christian Right Conservatives who oppose liberal government social policies
- Right-wing apocalyptic Christians who fear a Satanic New World Order
- Nebulous conspiracy theorists who fear a secular New World Order
- Nationalistic ultra-patriots concerned that US sovereignty is eroding.
- Xenophobic anti-immigrant white nationalists who worry about preserving the “real” America.
These grievances are interacting in a global economy often eager to accommodate corporate interests. And now we add in the fact that an economic downturn that has left millions unemployed or underemployed leaving the largely white, middle-class, Republican Tea Party activists scared that they may be kicked down the socioeconomic ladder next; the election of a “mixed-race” self-identified black man as president at a time when the demographics of the country reflect a growing percentage of people of color, all in the context of the unfinished conversation about race in America; and the disquiet among social conservatives who see abortion and gay rights through the lens of sin and immorality and anguish over the future of the family and traditional gender roles sometimes seen as mandated by God.