Tuesday, July 11, 1989 Miles City Star (Montana), Page 7 'CUT' official faces charges SPOK

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Tuesday, July 11, 1989 Miles City Star (Montana), Page 7 "CUT" official faces charges SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - The purported security chief of a controversial Montana religious sect was arrested for illegally purchasing a semi-automatice assault rifle, and documents indicated he planned to outfit 200 people with paramilitary weapons, federal authorities said Monday. The Church Universal and Triumphant moved from California to Montana in 1981. At a news conference where more than a dozen assault weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition were displayed, U.S. Attorney John Lamp said he would present the case to a federal grand jury, where additional counts could be sought against Vernon D. Hamilton. Hamilton, 42, of Livingston, Mont., was arrested Friday for investigation of giving a false statement in the acquisition of a firearm from a Spokane firearms dealer. Although documents found on Hamilton indicated he was the chief of security for the Church Universal and Triumphant, federal officials refused to speculate on whether his purchases were paid for, by the sect that mixes Christian, New Age and survivalist philosophies. Ed Francis, the church vice president who handles all press queries, was not in his office and did not return a call. Lamp said Hamilton could have legally purchased the semi-automatic weapons, including .50-caliber assault rifles and Austrian sniper rifles, if he had used his own name. Authorities accused Hamilton of using the identity of a dead San Francisco lawyer to acquire drop boxes from private mail centers in Spokane, to which ammunition and heavy boxes were mailed. Michael C. Kelly, resident agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said documents found on Hamilton during his arrest indicated he had recently purchased $130,000 in military-style firearms and ammunition and had plans to spend an additional $150,000. "There were some documents in his truck that indicated Hamilton attemted to acquire military weapons for 200 men," Kelly said. After Hamilton was stopped for a traffic infraction, police found a .50-caliber semi-automatic rifle and 300 rounds of ammunition, two Korean assault rifles, two Austrian sniper rifles, and $26,000 in cash and gold coins, Lamp said. ATF agents later searched a storage facility, where six more of the .50-caliber rifles and three other assault rifles were siezed, as well as 120,000 rounds of military ammunition, Lamp said. The Barrett assault rifles, which look like World War II machine guns, were equipped with range-finder scopes that would make them effective at distances of 7,000 feet or farther, Lamp said. If convicted of the federal count, Hamilton faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The church bought the 12,500-acre Royal Teton Ranch in 1981 from Malcom Forbes. It borders the northern edge of Yellowstone National Park, near Gardiner, Mont. Since then, the church has bought more property in Park County. Total holdings are about 33,000 acres [about 51.5 Sections (Square Miles)]. In 1986, the church moved its international headquarters from southern California to the ranch at Corwin Springs, Mont. The church preaches a mix of Christian, New Age religion, and right-wing politics. Church members vociferously support the Star Wars defense system, and are anti-Communist and anti-Soviet. CUT founder Elizabeth Clare Prophet [Wiseguy Fans should find that name interesting] has suggested in past writings and speeches that the church property in Montana would be a good place to survive a nuclear war. [She hasn't seen those Idaho Missle Base maps, has she.] Many church residents have built bomb shelters on their property in rural Park County. Church leaders have denied persistent rumors that the church is storing caches of weapons."[End Quote] -------------------------------------------------------------- Wednesday, July 12, 1989 MCS, Front Page Caption "An aerial photograh shows several fallout shelters being buried on a three-acre Church Universal and Triumphant excavation site in the Mol Heron Creek valley area. The steel fallout shelters, which can be used only by church staff during a catastrophic event, are being placed into the excivated area. (Yellowstone Newspapers photo by Stephen Matlow). CUT building fallout shelters Yellowstone Newspapers An official of the Church Universal and Triumphant Tuesday acknowledged the church's construction of a large complex of fallout shelters just north of Yellowstone National Park but denied the organization's members are being called together to prepare for an impending disaster. Area residents have observed a massive construction project underway in the Mol Heron Creek Valley, referred to by church officials as the "Heart of the Inner Retreat." Aerial survey and photographs of the valley show a large area of earthwork and excavation and an assortment of large tanks and tube-like structures, some of which are apparently being buried. Large earthmoving and construction equipment is on the site. Hank Rate, veteran Gardiner area surveyor, estimates the area of disturbed earthwork to be approximately 1700 feet long by 300 feet wide. At the request of the Livingston Enterprise, CUT vice president Edward Francis issued a news release Tuesday achkowledging the construction of a complex of fallout shelters in the valley for the use of residents of the Royal Teton Ranch, the church's administrative headquarters. "Mr. Francis emphasized that the shelters were being provided only for those people who actually live on the ranch and who are part of the Church's staff" the release stated. "We are not intending to provide shelter space for the Church's general membership and we are not calling people to move to the ranch in expectation of some holocaust," he said. Reports have been circulated locally for several months that the church leadership had issued a warning of an impending disaster - presumably a nuclear attack - and a call to church members to gather here. "In response to the rumors that the Church has predicted the end of the world by this fall, Mr. Francis indicated that those claims are exaggerated," the statement said. He cited a "prophetic message" issued in the fall of 1987 warning: "Ere 24 months have passed, be it known to you that this nation must have the capacity to turn back any and all missiles, warheads, incoming whether by intent or by accident. Where there is no defense you invite the bear into your own haven...'Ere 24 months pass...there shall be a reckoning and a confrontation unless something is done." "Those words are subject to interpretation," Francis said in the release, and "do not necessarily predict a nuclear confrontation or any irreversible events, much less the end of the world." They do, however, "represent a prophetic call to national and community action to help prevent a war with the Soviets...and the Church and many of its members are heeding it." Francis said the shelters are "designed to be functional for emergencies but relatively inexpensive." "They are not designed and they will not be used for normal occupancy...they are only for short-term use in the event of an emergency," he continued. According to the statement, Francis "said that the shelter design was based on information distributed by the federal government as well as private civil defense organizations and that their use would not be likely to exceed a few weeks on any occassion. The shelters are totally self-contained and include no external systems." He added that the Church would decline to comment any further on the specifics of the shelter design." [I see no initial '"' for that one] In the release, Francis outlines a program of "improvements" at the Mol Heron site, including road rehabilitation, site grading, drainage control work, landscaping, and the extension of electrical service from the Montana Power Company [eheheh..."alternatives" I thought, were 'always preferred'!] The shelters are being installed under a meadow, and in a "large washout that has existed on the site for almost half a century." The wash out "covers about three acres, and was created as a result of flood irrigation water being left unattended for several weeks by one of the original homesteaders," according to the statement. "Steel tank fallout shelters will be placed into and around the excavation...finally, the washout will be substantially refilled and the land retored to its natural grade and reseeded..." the statement said. The Mol Heron site, where CUT has held its annual conference in past years, was chosen for the shelters "because it is an area of prior useage and development, the Church believes the site to be consecrated and therefore protected, and the large washout can be reclaimed in the process." Francis' statement also acknowledges otner [nice to see the Spelling Checker at work] members of the church, living at CUT's Glastonbury Development near Emigrant, are building their own shelters. He said "covenants on record at the Park County Clerk and Recorder's office since 1982 for the Community of Glastonbury...require each dwelling to have an adequate fallout shelter." Aerial photos published previously in The Enterprise show various shelter projects apparently in progress, ranging from the burial of railroad boxcars to tanks similar to those at the Mol Heron site. "I'm sure some people will think this is kind of strange," Francis said in ths statement. "But to us it's just good common sense because we live in a nuclear world and there's no way to escape it or turn the clock back. "We're not getting paranoid [anyone with brains already WAS...For 25 Years] about the end of the world coming or anything like that. This is just a wise precaution against a known danger." [End of Article] That's all the info I've got. If anyone wants reprints and stuff, OR WHY NOT GET A FEW ISSUES...You can contact the Miles City Star 406-232-0450 (Miles City, MT, 59301).

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