subject: AANEWS for January 17, 1997 A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S A A N E W S #232 1/17
from: AMERICAN ATHEISTS
subject: AANEWS for January 17, 1997
A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S
~~ A A N E W S ~~
#232 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1/17/97
ATLANTA CLINIC BOMBING MAY LEAD TO "ARYAN'' ARMY, PHINEAS PRIESTS
An AANEWS Special Report
Investigators are still probing for clues in yesterday's bombing at a
suburban Atlanta abortion clinic; two blasts, apparently timed to go off
about an hour apart, wrecked the facility and injured six persons. The first
explosion occurred at 9:30 a.m. and sent terrified office workers heading out
of the building which housed the Atlanta Northside Family Planning Service.
A second explosion one hour later accounted for the personal injuries, and
is believe to have resulted from a bomb planted in a nearby dumpster.
Although there were other professional offices in the building for doctors,
attorneys and dentists, a spokesman for the Atlanta Police Department told
reporters that "it appears that the clinic was the target."
As of press time for this AANEWS dispatch, no group has apparently claimed
But the clinic bombing elicited a flurry of statements from political
leaders and organizations representing all sides in the abortion controversy.
The Christian Coalition and the National Right to Life Committee promptly
issued press releases condemning the action. CC Director Ralph Reed
described the violence as "a shameful and cowardly act. It is the antithesis
of our efforts on behalf of unborn human life."
There is circumstantial evidence, though, that suggests that the bombing
MAY be tied to an overall, organized campaign directed against abortion
clinic facilities and workers. The Atlanta bombing comes after a month of
another wave of violence centered on abortion providers; and the New York
Times noted that next week (Jan. 22) marks the 24th anniversary of the Roe v.
Wade decision, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which legalized abortion.
During the previous month, a physician at a Louisiana abortion clinic was
assaulted and stabbed, a Phoenix, Arizona clinic was the site of three failed
arson attempts, and the Planned Parenthood office in Dallas, Texas was robbed
at gunpoint. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, an abortion clinic was burned. That
sequence of events prompted Ann Glazier of the Planned Parenthood Federation
to suggest that the Atlanta bombing was just "one more piece of evidence in a
trail of violence" culminating at the Roe v. Wade anniversary.
A Chilling Reaction
While anti-abortion groups generally condemned the use of violence in
yesterday's probably clinic attack, other voices were heard from more
militant wings of the anti-choice movement. The editor of Life Advocate
magazine, Paul deParrie of Portland, Oregon mused: "I think it is wonderful
any time an abortion clinic is closed for whatever reason...I think it is
great when babies' lives are saved through whatever means..." News reports of
the Atlanta incident also mention Paul Hill, the former minister who killed
two people outside an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida; they also
mention John Salvi who two years ago also murdered two clinic workers at
abortion facilities in Massachusetts. Hill is currently serving two life
terms in prison, and was the first person convicted of the Federal Freedom of
Access to Clinics Entrances law. Salvi, a mentally disturbed man who spoke
openly of conspiracies against the Catholic Church, was found dead in his
prison cell at a maximum security facility on December 2, 1996. While the
death was officially ruled a suicide, Salvi family lawyers suggested bizarre
circumstances in their clients demise; one attorney told CNN news that "His
(Salvi's) feet were tied. His hands were tied together. There was cotton
stuffed in his mouth and a plastic bag over his head."
But there is another event taking place in Columbus, Ohio with names and
movements linked to the small, violent anti-abortion underground which lurks
behind the images being conjured in the Atlanta clinic bombing. That
involves the trial of a man named Peter K. Langan, 38, who identified himself
in the netherworld of violent, racialist-religious politics as "Commander
Pedro." A white supremacist with links to the so-called Christian Identity
movement, Langan is on trial in federal court charged with counts of bank
robbery in Columbus and Springdale, Ohio in 1994. He also faces charges of
robbing 20 other banks in six states, which netted a total estimated at
$250,000. According to investigators, proceeds from the stickup jobs were to
finance an "Aryan" revolution.
Logan has been linked to three other men, all of whom identified
themselves as the Aryan Republican Army. The group may have been carrying
out a plan first outlined in a book titled "The Secret Brotherhood," an
account of a group known as The Order that pulled off an armored car robbery
in California in 1984 and netted over $3.6 million. Part of the evidence in
the trial is a two-hour video tape, "The Aryan Republican Army Presents: The
Armed Struggle Underground."
The Order was founded by Robert Matthews in 1983, and based its program
for political action on a campaign of terror against what it called ZOG or
"Zionist Occupation Government." Matthews had also embraced Christian
Identity, a theological construct which preaches the superiority of the white
race and the need for a theocratic regime that would purge society of
non-aryans, and reconstruct the culture along Biblical lines. The Order drew
recruits from more above-ground groups including Aryan Nations (Church of
Jesus Christ-Christian), and found inspiration from the likes of Rev. Pete
Peters, a Colorado-based racialist whose literature and shortwave radio
broadcasts rave against homosexuals, mixed-race marriages and other alleged
Fallout From Waco, Ruby Ridge
The confrontation between in Idaho between Federal agents and the Randy
Weaver family at Ruby Ridge (which saw wife Vicki and son Samuel Weaver
murdered) became an icon for extreme militia and racialist-Christian Identity
groups who increasingly saw the need to either reject or supplement
above-ground political activism with covert, underground military
organization. That perception was exacerbated by the debacle at Waco.
Following the Ruby Ridge incident, Rev. Peters and others representing
Christian Identity sect members, neo-Nazis and elements of the Ku Klux Klan
held a meeting in Estes Park, Colorado to continue plans for organizing an
armed wing of the so-called "Patriot Movement." The report from this
"As was the case with our Founding Fathers, the establishment of a
Christian civil body politic should be a primary goal for Christian men
across the nation, for it is the chief means for carrying out the judgements
of God. It has the authority to punish the evildoer as mandated in Romans
"The remnant is not yet fully a Christian civil body politic, but it is in
the process of growing into it. We find stated in 2 Corinthians 10:6: 'We
are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete'."
The Phineas Priesthood
One group springing out of the Christian Identity nexus was based in
Sandpoint, Idaho and has been linked to bank robberies in the Pacific
Northwest, and setting off bombs at a newspaper office and at an abortion
clinic. Three known members charged in the mayhem have been linked to the
Phineas Priesthood, described by Associated Press writer Nicholas Geranios as
"a shadowy white supremacist organization opposed to interracial marriage,
abortion and homosexuality..." Two of the Priesthood members were linked to a
Christian Identity sect known as America's Promise Ministries.
The Phineas Priesthood is considered by some to represent the most extreme
wing of the "patriot movement," fusing violent anti-abortion activism with
elements of Christian Identity theology, white racialist nationalism, and a
belief that they constitute the incorruptable "Biblical remnant" locked in a
titanic struggle against the forces of evil. One Identity practitioner,
Richard Kelley Hoskins, elaborated on the Phineas Priesthood in his obscure
1990 book "Vigilantes of Christendom": The Story of the Phineas Priesthood."
It is a manifesto advocating murder against those sinners who "transgress"
against Biblical "law." An Oregon human rights group, Coalition for Human
Dignity, describes the "Vigilantes of Christiandom" book, saying:
"For Hoskins, the 'Phineas Priest' -- the embodiment of Christian Identity
belief and obedience to God -- is not one who prepares for impending race
war, but one who commits racist, anti-Semitic or homophobic murder to stave
off God's ongoing judgment of white people for failing to uphold the 'Law.'
For Hoskins this includes such 'crimes' as interracial marriage and allowing
homosexuals to live..."
Paul Hill, Anti-Abortion ''Avenger''
There has been speculation that Paul Hill may have been a Phineas Priest,
although that connection has never been thoroughly established. It is known,
though, that there is a cross-pollination of religious ideology linking The
Phineas Priesthood with the small but well organized violent anti-abortion
underground. Hill, a former minister, drew upon the story of Phineas
("Phinehas" in some accounts) for ideological inspiration. In one of his
tracts advocating direct action against abortion clinics, Hill declared:
"Death opens her cavernous mouth before you. Thousands upon thousands of
children are consumed by her every day. You have the ability to save some
from being tossed into her gaping mouth. As hundreds are being rushed into
eternity, other questions shrink in comparison to the weighty question,
'Should we defend born and unborn children with force?'
"Take defensive action!"
Hill goes on to defend the murder of abortion providers and other acts of
violence by referring to the Biblical story of Phineas...
"Phineas violently took the life of two immoral persons in order to turn
God's wrath away from the people. Numbers 25 tells us that the Israelites
were playing the harlot with Moabite women. God's wrath in the form of a
plague, therefore, turned against the people. As a result of the sins
committed, Moses and the judges were weeping before the tabernacle. As Moses
and the leaders looked on, Zimri, the son of Salu, brazenly brought a Moabite
woman named Cozbi by the weeping leaders. He led her past them and into a
tent for immoral purposes. When a priest named Phinehas (sic) realized what
was happening he was filled with zealous jealousy. He then followed them
into a tent and checked the plague by driving a spear through them both."
Like the Identity-linked Phineas Priesthood, Hill interprets Old Testament
scripture to justify acts of vigilante murder as approved by God, and
"righteous" in that they stem "god's wrath." Hill adds that "The remarkable
thing about the violent zeal of Phinehas (sic) is that it arguably received
as much or more emphatic approval from God than any other act in the Old
Hill continues by asking: "Are there any heinous sins being committed
today that could again fan the flames of God's righteous anger to the
scorching point? Is there any need in today's world for men of the stamp of
A Spectrum Of Beliefs
Not all of those active in the violent, anti-abortion underground are
linked to the sorts of Christian Identity movements out of which the Phineas
Priesthood has emerged; but critics have noted a cross-pollination of ideas
and themes. John Salvi, for instance, mused about a conspiracy against the
Vatican being carried out by Freemasons and the Ku Klux Klan. While they
disagree on who the villains are, conspiracy theo-politics run rampant today
on the religious right be in Pat Robertson's dire warnings against the "New
World Order" (which draw upon classic sources of anti-semitic ideology), or
the darker scenarios portrayed in extreme Catholic publications like "The
At least one segment of the anti-abortion underground grew out of the
Christian fundamentalist and evangelical movements coalesced in groups like
Randall Terry's Operation Rescue movement. The national O.R. group as late
as 1994, while encouraging aggressive "sidewalk counselling" and harassment
of abortion providers and clinic workers, stopped short of advocating
organized violence. In April, 1994, more militant Rescue members helped to
form the American Coalition of Life Activists; one founder of the new group
declared that "No one would want to work with the ACLA who would condemn the
use of force."
Other groups which straddle the precarious fence separating "aggressive"
tactics like harassment lawsuits or engaging in "rescue" operations include
the Lambs of Christ and Missionaries to the Preborn. Even more extreme is
Defenders of the Defenders of Life, a "group" of prominent anti-abortion
leaders who signed various statements in support of Paul Hill. Researchers
suggest that DDL filled the organization vacuum created by Rev. Hill and the
demise of his group, Defensive Action. That organization was started by Hill
in 1993 following the murder of Dr. David Gunn, a physician and abortionist
who was shot by Michael Griffin. Hill was one of those supporting Griffin,
circulating a statement promoting the Phineas doctrine of "justifiable
homicide" in defense of the "pre-born."
The Phineas Priesthood -- or certainly the "Biblical remnant" ideology as
exemplified in the account of Phineas -- may constitute a bridge linking
extreme, Identity racialists and militant anti-abortion activists who
increasingly see the need for violence in avenging "god's law" and punishing
transgressors. Indeed, the failure to overturn Roe v. Wade and enact
legislation designed to ban abortion by relatively peaceful means may be
pushing some anti-abortion believers over the edge." Frustrated and angry,
Phineas becomes a symbol of righteous vengeance against sinners.
The Atlanta clinic bombing may also serve as warning that we are about to
enter another round of increased violence directed at abortion providers,
clinics and workers. According to statistics, there were at least 15
bombings or arsons at clinics each year from 1993 to 1995; last year, that
figure dropped to seven. In addition, a study by the Feminist Majority
reports that a survey of 312 clinics across the nation showed 30% reporting
acts of violence in 1996 down from 39% in 1995. Even so, those numbers must
be balanced with the arson, robbery, assaults and attempted acts of violence
that have occurred just in the past month.
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