I’m going to start another new feature here, only because this subject fascinates me so much. It will be a series of posts on the subject of fringe religious groups, particularly those in the loonier groups of the religious right wing in the United States. I make no pretense of being fair minded in their regard, I think those who populate such organizations are generally in need of serious psychological help. But still, I’m quite fascinated by the various strains of the fundamentalist mindset in its crazier manifestations. I also make no pretense that such people or groups in any way represent all Christians, or even all fundamentalists. I know far too many brilliant and well educated Christians to put them in the same barrel with the nuts I intend to shine a light on during this series. I do not draw the line between myself and Christians, I draw the line between me and the reasonable Christians and the whackos on the lunatic fringe; I also put the loonies on the non-Christian fringes, like the idiots who tried to get the UN to ban religion worldwide, in the same package. As Eric Hoffer put it, “Though they seem at opposite poles, fanatics of all kinds are actually crowded together at one end. It is the fanatic and the moderate who are poles apart and never meet.”
The first group I’d like to look at is the Embassy of Heaven Church. I found this group by way of another right wing whacko, Kent Hovind, a creationist con man from Pensacola who is, yet again, in trouble with the government for not paying taxes. Hovind’s attorney in this matter is Glen Stoll of Remedies at Law, who also represents the Embassy of Heaven cult. What Hovind shares with the Embassy of Heaven cult is the idea that because they claim to be God’s ministers, they are therefore exempt from essentially all manmade laws
The Embassy of Heaven goes so far as to claim that they are citizens of the “Kingdom of God” and that their church is the official embassy from that Kingdom to the earthly governments. They believe that since they are citizens of Heaven and not citizens of the United States, they are exempt from any legal requirements imposed on them by the local, state or federal governments. They even go so far as to issue their own driver’s licenses, license plates and passports, which they amusingly present at airports thinking that they are going to be allowed on a plane with them. The three or four hundred Embassy of Heaven members nationwide who have attempted to drive their cars with Embassy license plates, using Embassy driver’s licenses, and without car insurance, have often found themselves being arrested. They then refuse to recognize the authority of the courts over them, refuse to post bail or enter a plea, and the courts typically hold them for a few weeks before deciding it’s not really worth it, then they let them go. Needless to say, the cult members take this as proof that the world is evil for persecuting them and they have a webpage devoted to jailings of their members around the country.
One of the church members arrested who is listed on that page, John Joe Gray, is now in the 6th year of a standoff with the police in Texas inside his apparently heavily armed compound. Among those in the camp are Gray’s daughter and her two children, over whom she does not have custody. The father of the children has begged the FBI, the Texas state police, the local sherrif, the US Marshalls, and anyone else who will listen to do something to get his children back, to at least serve the court order on the family, they have done nothing. Gray has repeatedly threatened the police with violence if they try to come near the compound and the authorities, apparently afraid of another Waco situation, have twiddled their thumbs since 1998.
To give you an idea of just how thwacked this group is, some members of the group, tired of being perpetually hassled by the police, suggested that perhaps they should ask the Supreme Court for an injunction against any action against the cult’s members unless they constitute an immediate threat to someone else’s life or property. No way, says their leader, who calls himself Paul Revere:
The only function such a document would serve is to pray to Antichrist for relief…
What the Church is really struggling over is authority. We want to have a standing in Christ. We don’t want a standing recognized by the world, for what communion has the Kingdom of Light with the Kingdom of Darkness?
The officials of the Church will come into authority because they are acting in His name, in a righteous manner. Everyone will notice who the real Authority is. The real question is, “Who sits on the highest throne?”
We, as Christians, have been given the highest Authority, and we need to act in a Christian manner as we carry out His commands. We must joyfully accept the plundering of our property and meekly suffer, rather than retaliate…
The unbelievers need to take the initiative in making a place for God’s elect, lest they be destroyed in their way. We are not called to “plea bargain” with the unbelievers, but to rule the earth and make them His footstool.
Wow. Here’s probably my favorite argument they make. Try to top the incomparable idiocy of this reasoning for why the state can’t write them tickets while using the roads and highways:
They cannot overcome the fact that we are not using the highways in their state. We are using the highways in the Kingdom of Heaven. Most people do not realize that the same stretch of concrete has multiple jurisdictions. State of Washington claims certain highways as their highways. But the Kingdom of Heaven claims these same highways for their purposes. And no one can deny that claim…
There are many jurisdictions claiming authority over the same highways. For instance, the United States Army has military highways for purposes of defense. The United States Postal Service has post roads for purposes of delivering mail. The state has “highways in this state” for purposes of regulating its drivers, and the Embassy of Heaven has “highways in the Kingdom of Heaven” for purposes of proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom to all nations. All these authorities have “concurrent jurisdiction” over the same physical highways. But those of us claiming the Kingdom of Heaven highways have the paramount claim to the highways because our Father created them and His son commanded us to use them. (See Matthew 28:18-20)
The state and its political subdivisions are stewards for the maintenance of the highways. That does not mean they own the highways. Specific government entities are charged with the maintenance and construction of the highways. To identify the custodian of these highways, they are designated State Highway 22 or County Road 208. It may appear that the state or county owns the highways, but they are merely stewards.
There is one form of stewardship we do not recognize. That is when the state takes dominion over the highways, treating them as their own. They start regulating who can and who cannot use the highways through their licensing programs. They not only regulate their own people, but they regulate anybody who uses “their” highways. When these stewards claim the highways as their own, they have become wicked husbandmen. (See Matthew 21:33-46)
When the sheriff in Washington wondered where the designations were for the Kingdom of Heaven highways, he was expecting that we would have markers on the side of the road. We don’t need road signs. Our highways have already been published in the Bible under the Great Commission. Christ said, “Go to all nations.” And His command to “Go to all nations,” means that all the highways and byways and paths leading up to everybody’s doorstep are designated as Kingdom of Heaven highways. Wherever we go, we are on the Kingdom highways.
If we faithfully stay off the highways in the state and remain on the highways in the Kingdom, there is no way we can trespass upon the state. We cannot commit traffic crimes against the state because we are not using their highways. Some jurisdictions are beginning to understand this and are dismissing charges against our ambassadors.
State motor vehicle statutes mean absolutely nothing to us because they only apply to those using highways in the state. They do not write statutes for those using highways in the Kingdom of Heaven. That is outside their jurisdiction. State law enforcement must come onto the highways in the Kingdom of Heaven in order to stop us. And if they cite us with violations of their statutes, they are trespassing. They do not supervise the Kingdom of Heaven highways.
There is no way to reason with such people. There is no way point in even attempting it. This is fanaticism on such a level that using logic to speak to someone who could believe something this stupid is as futile as trying to teach a card trick to a dog.