Christian Extremism as a Domestic Terror Threat   [open pdf - 358KB]

From the thesis abstract: "Americans readily identify Muslim extremism as a viable threat to America. However, they ignore or remain unaware of Christian extremism in the same context, despite the similarities in ideology that advocate violence against Americans. For example, the motivation behind Eric Rudolph's bombing of the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996 was to 'embarrass and punish the U.S. government' for its pro-abortion stance. This monograph explores what, if any, domestic terror threat Christian extremism poses and follows the Constructivist approach: how ideas define structure, how this structure defines interests, and how actors take action as a result. Initially focusing on the history and core beliefs of the Christian Identity movement and radical fringes of Dominion and Reconstruction theology, this monograph identifies two major underlying themes in Christian extremism. The first is racism through the use of religion as an accelerant to promote violence. The second is religiously motivated terrorism to support what is perceived as God's will and law. In addition, this monograph analyzes federal law enforcement action against Christian extremism through a series of case studies that took place in Mountainhome, Arkansas, Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas. The analysis of the catastrophic consequences from Ruby Ridge and Waco with the Oklahoma City bombing follows. Concluding this monograph are the lessons learned, comparison of federal law enforcement's action in each case study, and analyzing the tactics and leadership involved. Whereas the FBI's tactics and leadership exercised proved highly successful in Arkansas, they were disastrous in Idaho and Texas. Finally, this monograph provides a domestic terror threat assessment with recommended actions in what is not only a law enforcement issue, but a war of ideology between tolerance and understanding versus hate and bigotry."

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