This week while Christians around the world observed Holy Week, preparing for the death and resurrection of their Lord, a small group of “Christians” in Michigan were preparing for the end of the world.
Law enforcement officers in Michigan charged nine eschatologically-minded minded members of the Hutaree militia group Monday with plotting to kill a police officer and detonate an explosive at the officer’s funeral in hopes of inciting anti-government violence around the country. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, reported that the militia, whose arrested members included a husband, wife and their son, “had close links to several other American militias.”
No doubt the Hutaree thought of themselves as Christians, but should such a group of hate-filled violent extremists be able to claim the title? And should the media accept it as fact?
As the Post reported, the group’s Web site bears the slogan “preparing for the end time battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive.” Their shirt sleeves bear patches containing a black cross and the initials CCR, for Colonial Christian Republic, the court papers say. Describing their philosophy, a Web site tied to group members said that “Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves using the sword and stay alive using equipment.” The site also contained hate-filled rhetoric about minorities.
In his column Tuesday, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson took on the dilemma:
“The arrests of members of a Michigan-based ‘Christian’ militia group should convince doubters that there is good reason to worry about right-wing, anti-government extremism — and potential violence — in the Age of Obama.
I put the word Christian in quotes because anyone who plots to assassinate law enforcement officers, as a federal indictment alleges members of the Hutaree militia did, is no follower of Christ.”
What should the Hutarees be called?