Washington state Rep. Matt Shea (R) has a long history of extremism, but a newly unveiled document demonstrates his desire to violently impose dogmatic Christianity on the world.
In his “Biblical Basis for War” manifesto that was leaked last week, he lays out an expectation that others surrender to biblical obedience, including an end to abortion and marriage for same-sex couples.
The leak prompted Shea to insist that while the document was his, it was being taken out of context. It was, he claimed on Facebook, “a summary of a series of sermons on biblical war in the Old Testament as part of a larger discussion on the history of warfare.” He went on to claim it’s simply an extrapolation of his own “just war theory” beliefs.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, who has sparred with Shea over his extremism before, was not convinced by the explanation. “It is a ‘how to’ manual consistent with the ideology and operating philosophy of the Christian Identity/Aryan Nations movement and the Redoubt movement of the 1990,” he told the Spokesman Review.
While the document is peppered with some Old Testament citations, it also speaks to many modern day aspects of war and politics. Under a section listing “Rules of War,” it dictates that an offer of peace must be made before declaring war, but no negotiation or compromise is acceptable. Only a surrender “on terms of justice and righteousness” is acceptable, which includes stopping all abortions, no same-sex marriage, no idolatry or occultism, no communism, and an obedience to Biblical law. “If they do not yield — kill all males,” it states.
The document also defines a tyrant as “someone who rules without God,” explaining that tyranny is not a lawful form of government. “Assassination to remove tyrants is just, not murder,” it states, citing Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “plot for Hitler.” It’s unclear to what extent Bonhoeffer, a Christian pastor who resisted the Nazi regime, actually participated in any plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
The final point of the document states, “Where the Spirit of God is, there is Liberty.” One of Shea’s recurring proposals is the creation of a 51st state called “Liberty” in eastern Washington. Consistent with the survivalist American Redoubt movement, this would serve as a rural haven for those with conservative or libertarian beliefs to live in seclusion away from densely populated areas. It’s unclear if the language choice is a coincidence or not.
Shea’s other past examples of extremism would support a connection. A fervent gun rights activist, Shea warned in 2013 of an “inevitable [economic] collapse,” encouraging fellow survivalists to stockpile ammo and practice shooting. When Cliven Bundy engaged in an armed standoff with federal officials over cattle grazing on federal land in Nevada in 2014, Shea supported Bundy’s efforts, declaring, “This is a war on rural America.” Two years later, when Cliven’s son Ammon Bundy led an armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, Shea actually visited the occupation on a “fact-finding mission.”
At a “Liberty or Death” gun rights rally in August, Shea blamed the media for “defending tyranny”:
A lot of people in the media, some people even here today have come out publicly and tried to smear other people, OK? Tried to tell in the media that certain individuals are not who they say they are. Try to smear them without any facts… And I want to tell you something about that: We can’t become those dirty, godless, hateful people.
Knezovich sees a connection between Shea’s support in these rural standoffs, his affiliations with the American Redoubt movement, and the latest “Biblical Basis for War” document. “The ideas presented in the document are how these groups intend to seize control, by force, should there be a governmental collapse or civil war,” he said.
Someone had given Knezovich the document on a flash drive about two months ago, and it was posted publicly by others more recently. “I gave it straight to the FBI,” he said.