False Religion, True Religion series
How could a Christian minister, who simply wanted to get his family away from the perceived corruption of the world, become a terrorist willing to blow up the world? Unfortunately this true story told by an insider and spiritual leader, Kerry Noble, is all too common in our world today from Islamic terrorists to Christian terrorists.
Image by Dorian Scott Cole
This other aspect of the power of money to drive hate is not at all understood. It’s more commonly characterized as the enmity between the haves and have nots, and has existed all through the ages. This is a cautionary tale of Biblical proportions.
Tabernacle of Hate, by Kerry Noble, is the source for this article (blog post). I highly recommend reading the book.
Kerry Noble, Christian minister
Kerry Noble, soon to be High Priest of the CSA, joined others in the beautiful state of Arkansas, in a very remote area near the Missouri border. It was a great place to hide from God’s wrath to come and lead a “pure” life.
They wanted peace. They wanted protection from a world they felt was doomed to Hell and escalating out of control, and from the Armageddon that was to come. God would have the day of wrath very soon. The others in their new home wanted the same.
The rotten apples
Conspiracy theories began finding their way into the camp. Since they believed the worst of the world they didn’t have any reason not to believe them and in retrospect realized they wanted to believe.
They began making contact with other groups who published and encouraged contact: the Aryans, KKK, Neo-Nazis, Christian survivalists – all who spread fear, hate, and paranoia. They joined ranks. They armed themselves against the perceived threats.
Having developed a militia, and having gotten impatient waiting on God to start an Armageddon, these peace-loving people decided to take matters into their own hands and would start terrorist attacks against the nation and government.
Descent into wickedness
How does a group of people decide that they are above the law, even God’s law, that the lives of some people don’t matter, and that the people of this world can legitimately be collateral damage? Well, we’re seeing it every day from people who have become radicalized.
The road to radicalization was classic for a cult. First comes a charismatic cult leader who resonates with the person’s beliefs and offers hope. Kerry wrote about the first ingredient necessary for extremists: “… a philosophical or theological promise, based on discontent, fear, unbelief, hate, despair, or some other negative emotion.” It starts with a very dark belief without hope.
Notice the effect of discontent (rural poverty cited by Kerry), and despair for a better future. This is what is happening to many groups around the world from the French Yellow Jackets who represent rural areas, to the over 800 hate groups in the US. As people have migrated to population centers for better jobs, the countryside is left barren of jobs except agriculture work.
My research on the 2016 election indicated that the inability of people to make a living drove the election results. This was also cited as the primary factor by economists at MIT and other places. While there are other issues, they usually don’t rise high enough to swing an election. And following the election we saw the hate groups raise their public profile and see politicians riding the wave.
Step by step
From a charismatic leader with a message that resonated, the next step in their evolution was isolation so that there was no contact with sane, moderate people. Their only information was filtered so that it fit the narrative of their beliefs.
Their list of enemies grew every day feeding their sense of paranoia and impending doom, fitting right into their belief that God was going to get destructive very soon. Kerry writes, “This false premise of an evil apocalypse, I discovered years too late, would be the basis for our misguidance.”
This is what I saw in the early 1970s. People believed the world was doomed and the apocalypse was at hand and they isolated themselves from others. While they still believed in helping others, their circle of who they could help shrunk to the people sitting beside them in the pew. Fear of others, dread of a bad future, and paranoia turned good hearts into those who withdrew from the world to escape. These apocalyptic beliefs are a disaster all on their own because they cause fear and separate people from acting out of love.
As the leader of the cult saw failure after failure of their prophecies of a date for the coming apocalypse, they slipped to the apparent need to start the destruction themselves. Then came the focus on member guilt and confession to keep people in control, obedience and loyalty became a demand, and the feelings for those who left turned to hate. Sound like the Scientology cult?
These things formed a strong identity among them. Their truth was the only truth and it was part of their identity. Identity is nearly always imperative for cults and for actions, such as in elections and in violence. Cultists fear threats to their identity paradigm and look to violent ways to defend themselves. Any threat of counter information has to be rejected.
Madness and violence
They would start Armageddon. They had the paramilitary and they had skilled knowledge. They believed that as an army of God they were above the law and even murder was acceptable. Their first foray would be to destroy an adult book store, and if anyone else in the LGBTQ and black community was harmed, that was a good thing because God didn’t like those people. But Kerry began to put human faces on the potential victims. And then as he sat in church with that community they sang old familiar tunes, and Kerry realized these people were no different from him.
Hate and fear are driven by things like lack of money, and they make enemies of other people (the other). They become objects to destroy, not flesh and blood people like ourselves.
Realization sets in
Later they decided to blow up the Oklahoma City Federal building, a task later accomplished by Timothy McVeigh. On the way there Kerry Noble realized the horror of what they were about to do and turned back.
Noble writes, “First of all we were built not upon faith and love, like we thought we were, but upon a false premise based in fear and despair.”
Our country needs to learn from Kerry Noble’s and the CSA’s experience. We need to solve the problems of financial inequity or it’s going to destroy us.
Take Home points
Hate and violence are not representative of Christianity. Helping others in the world is the epitome of Christianity. Those who focus on what they believe are the sins of others are easily misled into beliefs and activities that bring hate and violence. Just ask Kerry Noble – he wrote a book about the experience, Tabernacle of Hate.
People who commit violence are usually driven by the same things: Beliefs, despair, extreme outrage, and hopelessness, ending in the need to commit violence. Whether it’s a school shooter who is shunned by others, or Islamic or Christian terrorists, they find no outlet for their rage and hopelessness than to go kill others to make a statement.
What to do
Extremism in the US and in other countries is growing. We need fairness in our systems that recognizes and addresses legitimate needs and problems so that people aren’t left out. Things won’t change until we fix systemic problems, and will most likely get worse until we’re willing to understand problems and fix them.
Our answer is God. God’s answer is us. Together we make the world better.
I will use some book references for this series, which I recommended reading:
- Tabernacle of Hate by Kerry Nobles – true story of a group that isolated for peaceful living but ended up in cults that advocated violence.
- C Street by Jeff Sharlet – a true cult that thought Jesus was wrong, and influences politicians around the world
- When Religion Becomes Evil by Charles Kimball (5 warning signs)
What Is Meant by Truth? (Worship in Spirit and in Truth)