The FBI took down a Christian militia group in Michigan on Monday.
The indictment said the Hutaree, who describe themselves as “Christian warriors,” viewed all law enforcement as their enemy. It said they had planned a violent act to get the attention of the police, possibly by killing an officer at a traffic stop, and then attacking the funeral procession with explosives.
The arrests of the Hutaree members comes amid what the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama non profit that tracks extremism, has called “an explosion of new extremist groups and activism across the nation.” The organization has cited the economic downturn as a major reason for the change, and also contends that the far-right has been particularly animated by the election of the nation’s first black president.
That is pretty disturbing. I agree with the author that a lot of these occurrences are related to nutball “conservatives” rather than nutball “Christians”, however the two groups have quite a bit of overlap. I got a lot of flack a few days ago for saying religious people don’t stand up against extremists in their own religion (only in opposing religions). It will be interesting to see the Christian response to these arrests. I suspect we’ll hear a lot of the No True Scotsman* type arguments. “No True Christian would do these things”, immediately close mind.
* From Wikipedia:
No true Scotsman is a logical fallacy, an ad hoc attempt to retain an unreasoned assertion. When faced with a counterexample to a universal claim, rather than denying the counterexample or rejecting the original universal claim, this fallacy modifies the subject of assertion to tautologically exclude the specific case or others like it.
Imagine Hamish McDonald, a Scotsman, sitting down with his Glasgow Morning Herald and seeing an article about how the “Brighton Sex Maniac Strikes Again.” Hamish is shocked and declares that “No Scotsman would do such a thing.” The next day he sits down to read his Glasgow Morning Herald again and this time finds an article about an Aberdeen man whose brutal actions make the Brighton sex maniac seem almost gentlemanly. This fact shows that Hamish was wrong in his opinion but is he going to admit this? Not likely. This time he says, “No true Scotsman would do such a thing.”
—Antony Flew, Thinking About Thinking (1975)
Update: There’s a related article today in the Washington Post, The Hutaree militia and the rising risk of far-right violence.