American Militias: Rebellion, Racism and Religion

Overview

After the Oklahoma City bombing, Americans became aware of the alarming growth of paramilitary groups over the previous several years. This ominous development has arisen from a volatile mixture of frustration with the government and deep-seated religious beliefs that are primarily apocalyptic. The zeal, unity, plans, and, in many cases, the hatred and paranoia exhibited by those involved with such groups are fueled by the sense that we are near the end of the world. The racist attitudes common among paramilitary...
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Overview

After the Oklahoma City bombing, Americans became aware of the alarming growth of paramilitary groups over the previous several years. This ominous development has arisen from a volatile mixture of frustration with the government and deep-seated religious beliefs that are primarily apocalyptic. The zeal, unity, plans, and, in many cases, the hatred and paranoia exhibited by those involved with such groups are fueled by the sense that we are near the end of the world. The racist attitudes common among paramilitary organizations are also too often rooted in religious ideas. Understanding the beliefs of militant extremists as we approach the year 2000 - a crucial turning point for many paramilitaries - is critical if social disruption and perhaps even violent confrontations are to be avoided. American Militias seeks to inform the reader exactly what is being taught to, and believed by, hundreds of thousands of extremists. Thorough and balanced, it explains and refutes some of the complex and bizarre conspiracy theories they hold and suggests ways of defusing their sometimes dangerous zealotry.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 1992, many Americans found themselves riveted to their televisions as the drama between the Branch Davidian religious sect and the FBI played itself out on the nightly news. As viewers watched the news, however, they quickly discovered that David Koresh, the leader of the Davidians, was proclaiming a message of political rebellion couched in apocalyptic language borrowed from the book of Revelation. According to Koresh's messages, the Davidians saw themselves as the children of light fighting to liberate themselves from the evil empire of the U.S. government and its restrictions on the Davidian's religious practices. As Abanes points out in this masterful survey, the Davidians are only one of a number of paramilitary groups whose mission is fueled by a volatile mix of religion, rebellion against the government and racism. Abanes examines the teachings and goals of several of these groups, from the Davidians to the Christianity Identity Movement, as he attempts to show the dangers of an uncritical acceptance of narrowly conceived religious understandings of the relation between church and state. For everyone interested in the often strange and inexplicable combination of religion and politics that characterizes many paramilitary groups, Abanes' balanced and forthright study offers invaluable insight. (Aug.)
Kirkus Reviews
Grabbed from today's headlines, a well-researched, thoroughly informative chronicle of the antigovernment militias that haunt America's heartland (the third in recent months, after studies by Kenneth Stern and Morris Dees).

Religion and cult expert Abanes, founder of the Religious Information Center of Southern California, sets out to deconstruct militias and analyze the events and ideologies that have led to their frightening growth. With hundreds of interviews and militia texts at his disposal, Abanes describes the incredible paranoia that stalks the movement, fueling increasingly wild conspiracy theories about a UN plot to conquer the world and a federal conspiracy to enslave American citizens. In unadorned, occasionally stiff prose, the author explores the ideology shared by the various militias and traces its origins back to centuries-old theories of anti-Semitism and white supremacy. "White supremacists currently couch their beliefs in more acceptable terms," Abanes writes, "hiding their bigotry to present a sanitized image to the public and attract new recruits." One by one Abanes examines the leaders of the far right, including former Green Beret Bo Gritz (who recently attempted to negotiate with the Freemen in Idaho), lawyer Linda Thompson, even Pat Robertson, and reveals their ties to the hate community. Abanes is at his best when he's stripping down their arguments, demonstrating how militia leaders "abuse rather than use the Bible," and skewering the faulty logic of the movement's self-styled leaders. Still, he is on no mission from the left: He blames the government bureaucracy for generating blizzards of alienating regulations, and the national law enforcement agencies for bungling matters at Waco and Ruby Ridge, with lethal results.

A balanced and intellectually acute report on the militia men and women who seem disorganized and defensive now, but who one day may raise their voices in a fearsome roar.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780830813681
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/1996
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.93 (h) x 0.85 (d)

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