Army of God

By Christopher Zoukis

After he left the ministry, Paul moved his family to Pensacola and started his own business – auto detailing.  His new work gave him great satisfaction.  Physical labor made him feel alive, which gave him a sense of meaning and purpose.  And the results of his labors were immediate and empirical – the cars were clean and shined.  The family moved to Pensacola so they could be near a reformed Presbyterian church Paul wanted to join.  This church practiced infant baptism and infant communion.  Both these rites were extremely important to Paul, who had developed an extraordinary empathy for the sanctity of new life.  Paul believed passionately that ‘Life’ began at the moment of conception.  Which meant he opposed any type of abortion.

Somewhere in here – no one knew precisely when – Paul hooked up with the Army of God.  The Army of God was an extremist anti-abortion association.[1]  The group openly advocated violence to stop abortion.  Adopting the concept of leaderless resistance, the Army of God encouraged ‘lone warriors’ to take up the banner of God and do whatever was necessary to halt the mass murder of unborn infants.  Newsday reported that the Reverend Michael Bray claimed to be “the chaplain of the Army of God.”[2]

The Army of God might have borrowed their convoluted, pathological creed from the Phineas Priesthood.  Composed of psychopathic, religious nutcases, the Army of God demonstrated the worst facet of religious fanaticism.

Michael Bray had strong connections to the church of Christian Identity.  Bray believed the Bible was the inerrant Word of God.  He held that homosexuals and adulterers should be executed, because that’s what the Bible said.  Bray introduced Paul Hill to Christian Identity.  From that point on, Paul Hill’s life was never the same.   Michael Bray / Image courtesy michaelbray.org

Paul became an activist.  “In God’s amazing providence, I began to engage in pro-life activism at the Ladies Center in Pensacola.”[3]  A few months later, Michael Griffin – who was a pro-life activist – shot and killed Dr. David Gunn.  Dr. Gunn performed abortions in a medical clinic.

Two days after Dr. Gunn’s murder, Paul called the Phil Donhue Show.  He told the show’s producers who he was and stated that he upheld the killing of Dr. Gunn.  The producers immediately invited Paul to appear on the show.  Paul believed this opportunity was made possible by God’s intervention.  Which meant – as far as Paul was concerned – that God disapproved of abortion and sanctioned such acts of retribution.

Three days later, Paul appeared on the Phil Donahue Show, along with Dr. Gunn’s son.  In front of a national television, Paul defended the killing of Dr. Gunn.  Paul stated that the abortion doctor’s murder was the equivalent of executing “a Nazi concentration camp doctor.”[4]  The implication was that the murder was justified.

Shortly thereafter, according to Paul, “the Lord led me to contact Advocates for Life Ministries.  They graciously published an article I wrote for their magazine, Life Advocate, and provided the contacts necessary for numerous activists to sign a ‘Defensive Action’ statement justifying Griffin’s actions.  After this, through another set of amazing providential occurrences, I appeared on ABC’s Nightline, and justified Shelley Shannon’s shooting of an abortionist in Wichita, Kansas in August 1993.”[5]

Shelley Shannon was part of the Army of God.  Shannon shot Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas.  Dr. Tiller was severely wounded but did not die.   

On Nightline, Paul claimed he was the national spokesperson for defensive action against abortionists.  He also stated he was connected to the Army of God.  Paul told Nightline’s viewers that the Sixth Commandment (“Thou shalt not murder”) did not simply forbid murder.  God’s prohibition of murder also implied the means to stop murder from taking place.  In other words, a correct interpretation of the Sixth Commandment allowed for the protection of innocent people who were being murdered by others. 

Paul explained what he meant in language everyone could understand.  “The scriptures teach that when the government requires sin of its people that they “must obey God rather than men,” according to Acts 5:29.  When the government will not defend the people’s children – as required by the Sixth Commandment – this duty necessarily reverts to the people.  Instead of faulting Griffin for going too far, is it possible that people should be accusing themselves of not going far enough?  As distasteful as it is to kill a murderer, isn’t it infinitely more repulsive to allow him to murder, not just one or two, but hundreds and thousands of unborn children?"[6]

In defense of such violent acts, Paul cited a story from the Old Testament book of Esther.  Where King Ahasuerus passed a law that permitted Persians to murder Jews.  The Jews’ response was to use defensive force – to fight back – to preclude this atrocity.  Killing abortionists was comparable to the historical event in Esther.  God has provided people with the means to abide by his commandments.  “It is presumptuous to neglect these means…”[7]

 


[1] The term ‘association’ is used loosely, as the group has no clearly defined organization.

[2] The FBI cited the Army of God as domestic terrorists.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.