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Extremist Christians Aim to Create Armed Militias Against "Godless" Federal Government

Christian Reconstructionists believe civil government should be reformed according to the dictates of biblical law. Some advocate for followers to take up arms.

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Christians should be aware that the use of force in preservation of life is a biblical doctrine (Ex. 22:2–3; Prov. 24:10–12; Est. 8–9; Neh. 4; cp. John 15:13–14). Likewise, those who possessed weapons in Scripture are often said to be well skilled in the use of them (Judg. 20:15–16; 1 Chron. 12:1–2, 21–22). We can only surmise that 1) God gave them talent in this regard, and that 2) they engaged in target practice regularly. Further, under biblical law, to be disarmed was to be enslaved and led to a disruption of the economic order due to government regulations and monopolies (1 Sam 13:19–22).

Reconstructionists are critical of those who defend the Second Amendment only in terms of hunting. They believe that the protection of a sporting activity would not have been the basis of an amendment to the Constitution intended to protect basic rights that were fundamental to liberty. McDurmon also points to widespread gun ownership as a defense against tyranny, tracing the colonial laws that required gun ownership and arguing that “in the context of the War for Independence, ministers saw guns as tools of liberty and defense against tyranny.” In fact, he argues that gun ownership by individuals should be the basis of national defense and that a standing army is unbiblical.

The Tea Party-Christian Reconstructionism-Militia Connection

Rep. Ron Paul, a godfather of sorts to the Tea Parties, calls the GOA “the only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington.” Indeed, Pratt, GOA's executive director, told RD that he has spoken at Tea Party events, calling his group “a natural match for the folks in the Tea Party.” Pratt believes the federal government is largely unconstitutional, and that all federal agencies save the Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury (which should be “a lot smaller”), should be abolished. (The Internal Revenue Service is a part of Treasury that Pratt would like to see abolished.)

GOA’s political action arm has endorsed Paul’s son, Rand, in the Kentucky Senate race, as well as other Tea Party favorites for Senate Sharron Angle (Nevada), Marco Rubio (Florida), J.D. Hayworth (Arizona), David Vitter (Louisiana), Tom Coburn (Oklahoma), and Jim DeMint (South Carolina), as well as eight House candidates. The Angle campaign embraced the endorsement, with her spokesperson saying, “Not only is Mrs. Angle unafraid of guns, but she is also unafraid to stand up against those who would attempt to deny the legal rights of other gun owners.”

Pratt, whose advocacy has led him to intersect not only with the Tea Partiers, but also with neo-Nazis and white supremacists, sees the revitalization of the 10th Amendment movement—far-right agitators who believe the federal government is largely unconstitutional—as evidence of states “pushing back federal authority.” Pratt believes that states should be “reactivating” militias; which should be at their disposal “instead of relying on the [federal] government to come and screw things up... these things should be given new life.”

Pratt refuses the label “Christian Reconstructionist,” telling RD he prefers to identify as a “Biblical Christian.” He advocates for militias which he describes as “the sheriff’s posse” and that the “availability of it will further cool their [the federal government’s] jets. No more Wacos. Because if you try something like that again, we’re not going to stand around and watch. We’re going to put you in our jail. Which is what the sheriff in that county should have told the thugs in Waco.”

This is predicated, Pratt insists, “on the actual meaning of the word militia, as it was put into the Constitution and into the Bill of Rights.”

Citing Romans 13, Pratt said the “magistrate is a servant of God. He’s supposed to be a terror to evildoers and a comfort to the righteous. So we talk in terms of protecting the people’s liberties. That’s really the same concept.”

In an essay posted on the GOA Web site, “What Does The Bible Say About Gun Control?,” Pratt argues that “resisting an attack is not to be confused with taking vengeance, which is the exclusive domain of God,” citing Romans 12:19. That domain of God, he maintains, “has been delegated to the civil magistrate” who is “God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.”

Likewise, Titus, in his interview with RD, referred to this notion of legitimate civil uprising or resistance resting on the support of “lesser magistrates.” This concept derives from Calvin but is a concept central to Reconstructionism—that Christians are obligated to obey civil authority because it is delegated by God; they can only resist one civil authority when in submission to another one. Put in secular terms, this dovetails with their longstanding support for “states’ rights” and their desire to see organized militias that can be called up by state governors (who are “lesser magistrates”) for the defense of a state against what they claim is the tyrannical overreach of the federal government.

With the receptivity of the Tea Party Movement to arguments against supposed excessive federal power, Christian Reconstructionist-inspired militias could find new converts. Pratt said that when he speaks about his militia idea at Tea Party rallies, “it’s very well-received.” It may be “a new idea in the details,” he added, “but it certainly resonates instantly with them.”