Austin shooter was a ‘Vigilante of Christendom’



Please consider a small gift to my Paypal account this season, DarkSydOtheMoon -at- AOL, and thanks for any amount. It sure hasn’t been a quiet Thanksgiving in Central Texas! The peaceful extended holiday weekend in Austin was shattered early Friday morning by downtown gunfire. Larry Steven McQuilliams shot up three buildings, the Austin Police Department headquarters, the Mexican consulate, and a federal courthouse. He was killed at the APD scene, but maps with dozens of buildings and the tools of terrorism were found in his nearby van, indicating he planned to continue his destructive rampage. Thanks to a quick thinking Austin police officer who dropped the assailant with a single expert shot from 100 yards away in the pitch dark,  there were no other injuries reported.

Investigators revealed this week that McQuilliams was an ex-con who also appears to have been a follower of an obscure Christian group called the Phineas Priesthood, an ideology and theology espousing violence by its members, justified as the will of God, especially if used against gay people, abortion proponents, interracial marriage, and of course Jews. One of the groups’ most admired books is a manifesto of divinely inspired white supremacist violence called Vigilantes of Christendom:

Austin, Texas NBC Affiliate KXAN — “The book is actually related to a religious sect called Christian Identity, which actually plays a very important role in the extreme right in the United States, even though most Americans don’t even know it exists,” said Pitcavage. “Christian Identity believers believe that whites are descended from the ancient Israelites of the bible, the lost tribes of Israel; that the bible is a message written only for white people and that non-whites… were made by God when he created beasts of the field and have no souls.”

Pitcavage says the book argues for Christian warriors, people who should “appoint themselves warriors for God to carry out this twisted, white supremacist, Christian Identity version of the bible.”

“The Phineas Priesthood is not an actual group or organization. It’s just a concept. Theoretically a white supremacist could declare themselves a so-called member of the Phineas Priesthod and commit some sort of violent act. But the history of the so-called Phineas Priesthood over the past several decades, there have been extremely few such acts,” said Pitcavage.

I have a feeling America is about to learn a lot more about Phineas Priesthood and we’re not going to like what we find. It sounds sort of like a right-wing, homegrown, Christan version of ISIS, right down to the violent religious fundamentalism and intolerant medieval practices. How would these Identitists feel about open atheists like us? What do you suppose the media reaction would be right now, had a copy of The God Delusion or ties to Southpark’s fictional ‘Unified Atheist League’ been found in his vehicle?

I imagine it would have been a field day for the usual religious suspects. A flurry of ominous emails and infomercials asking for money to ward off the evil atheist conspiracy, a round the table denunciation, anger and hatred bleeding profusely out of wingnut sewers into the traditional body politic directed at any convenient non religious person or organizations, by pundits and politicians, praising the constitution in one hand while dressing down orgs like the ACLU dedicated to preserving the Bill of Rights and religious freedom for all Americans on the other. It’s not as safe as it used to be for a mainstream public figure to go after people’s private lives or interracial couples. But all it would take is a social segue; smacking around skeptics still comes with almost no risk at all. Why they might even blame us for Hitler, which is some pretty damn amazing projection for self proclaimed fascist loving clowns.

This group and McQuilliams’ connection to them sounded so crazy that I and others actually held off writing about it here, until initial reports passed the crowd-sourcing muster. But it appears to be legit, what’s alarming is these people are just the visible tip of the iceberg. The religious right in central Iraq and south-eastern Syria may get all the press, what with their revolting beliefs and practices.

But our fundies are working hard to give them a run for their money. It’s not limited to a tiny handful who go off the reservation and shoot up buildings. It’s everywhere, and one of the signs of that wide ranging effort is the ugly murderous rage we know too well. That pure unadulterated raging hatred, harbored by large swaths of religious conservatives, carefully planned and egged on by greedy preachers from the pulpit and power crazed politicians from the halls of power. Exposing these loons and pointing out the obvious connection to so-called mainstream operatives can be dangerous for anyoen. Ask Bonnie Weinstein at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF):

To the Far Right Christian Hater … You Can Be a Good Speller or a Hater, But You Can’t Be Both: Official Hate Mail, Threats, and Criticism From the Archives of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation — Despite the condemnation these letter writers deserve, I would argue many of them have been goaded into their ugly views. There is a systemic, manufactured religious war going on in America. It’s passed down through families and churches. It’s exploited by “family values” spouting politicians. It has been created to line the pockets of the most ignorant and vile flimflam artists who dare call themselves “reverend.” It’s used to fill pews and collection plates and to generate votes for the self-proclaimed party of God, the GOP. … It offers an unflinching examination of a subset of American fundamentalism, created by a segment of our society that is whiter, more conservative and a lot angrier than the rest of America. For some people the future of their faith and of the nation are in danger, threatened by secular forces controlled by Satan himself. This existential threat to Christian supremacy justifies the most offensive, vulgar and cruel letters I’ve ever read. Think I’m overstating it? Read the book.

As it is, some local reports in Central Texas have hit the domesticate terrorism angle full on, good on them, but there have been others which either skirt the issue altogether or report the Dominionist connection almost as an unrelated side note. Like, ‘ohhhhh, and by the way, not only was he a homemade ice-cream aficionado, it may turn out he might have been at one time slightly interested in one of several … extremely violent ::mumble mumble:: … devout white supremacist nationalist groups ‘ .  The kind that join armed militias, rob banks, blow up buildings, the kind that openly celebrate genocide and call for mass detainment camps or worse for non whites, recent immigrants, gay people, intellectuals, non Christians and anyone else who is not sufficiently conservative in their religious beliefs, lunatics who staunchly believe in guns above all divinely approved rights and who claim the federal government is illegal, immoral, and against the will of a bloodthirsty, vengeful God.

At least as long as a black democrat — or any democrat — is in the White House. It’s only when a Clinton or Obama leases the mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. That’s when absurd cries of tyrant and dictator seem to arise, conjured out of whole cloth and sold by the bolt in these armed, fevered swamps fueled by the nutty Birchers and the Turner Diaries crowd. If not for a hell of a shot Friday morning, we might now be adding Vigilante of Christendom to the list. But as we’ve seen before, these anti-government Jeremiads are muzzled, mainstream coverage quiets down, militia leaders seem to blow away and scatter in the wind like the red Fall leaves, whenever a religious conservative yowling coded verses to their ultra fundamentalist base wins that office.



  1. otrame says

    Christian Identity has been a source of violence in this country for several decades now. The Southern Poverty Law Center has been warning about the potential for real trouble from the Phineas Priesthood for at least 20 years. Like most such groups Christian Identity is mostly composed of losers who use the organization a sort of social club (and who are handily shorn of their money by the leaders). But now and then they get a Timothy McVeigh and then the bleeding starts.

    This guy was either extremely stupid, or was just committing suicide by cop, using the Phineas Priesthood idea to make himself feel all noble.

    The real problem is that not all the McVeighs are that stupid, and they are drawn to groups like Christian Identity like moths to flames. I sometimes think groups openly advocating violence should be suppressed pretty ruthlessly, but the trouble is that that just sends them underground. In the long run I think is it better to leave things as they are, where it is relatively easy to keep an eye on them and hope the ones who blow are all as stupid as the guy in Austin was.

  2. mithrandir says

    I’ve seen the phrase “stochastic terrorism” used for this sort of thing – the central ideology advocates for violence in principle but doesn’t provide any support or coordination for it.

    On the other hand, it’s my opinion that these movements tend to preferentially attract people on the margins – people who might just barely be able to make it with majority privilege, and fall through the cracks when that privilege is impaired or taken away. Such people aren’t necessarily stupid or crazy, but they are generally unprivileged in every respect but their (in this case) race, and that does mean they’re at a disadvantage when it comes to planning or executing any real harm.

  3. Trebuchet says

    Austin lucked out this time because a cop was a very good shot and the “vigilante” wasn’t very good at it. This time.

  4. says

    Yeap. Amazing shot, one that really might have saved lives. This clown tried, unsuccessfully, to set the consulate on fire, he had explosives in his car. The officer who stopped him reportedly did so with a hand gun, after walking out of the stable in the dark, leading a couple of horses used by the APD with his other hand.

  5. Crimson Clupeidae says

    lunatics who staunchly believe in guns above all divinely approved rights and who claim the federal government is illegal, immoral, and against the will of a bloodthirsty, vengeful loving God.

    Fixt that for ya. ;)

    Donation incoming, but it will have to wait until my next paycheck clears.

  6. magistramarla says

    After this last fiasco of an election, I fear that things are going to get much worse here in Texas, and that nutcases like this one will be emboldened to go after the many non-whites in this state.
    I worry so much for my beautiful Mexican daughter-in-law and my little grandson. I hope that my son gets the opportunity to move his little family out of Texas.

  7. Pierce R. Butler says

    The Phineas Phreaks started as an anti-interracial marriage group, as exemplified by Numbers 25:6-8:

    And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

    And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;

    And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.

    The story goes on for several more verses; the ever-lovin’ LORD finds this hanky-panky a good enough reason to order Moses and Eleazar to declare holy war on those morally deficient Midianites.

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