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A Washington state lawmaker’s notes on ‘biblical’ war threaten his re-election bid

State Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane, speaks at a gun-rights rally at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash., on Jan. 13, 2017. Shea is facing intense criticism for distributing a document describing how a "Holy Army" should kill people who flout "biblical law," with some campaign donors asking for their contributions back. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

SPOKANE — A quiet race for a state legislative seat in Washington’s 4th legislative district has been thrown into turmoil after a document outlining the biblical reason for war, written by incumbent Republican Matt Shea, was leaked on Facebook last week.

In the four-page document, which Shea dismissed as old sermon notes, the four-term representative says it’s time for war when God says so. It can be avoided only if abortions and same-sex marriage come to an end and if all parties agree to obey biblical law. Other requirements for avoiding a holy war that Shea identified include the end of idolatry and communism.

“If they do not yield — kill all males,” the outline reads.

The document, which Shea says has been taken out of context, prompted Spokane Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, a fellow Republican, to file a report with the FBI, saying Shea might be dangerous. At least six campaign donors have asked for their funds back, while Ted Cummings, the Democrat running against Shea, has seen a surge of donations from across the country.

Shea did not respond to requests for comments but in a Facebook statement Friday said that as a Christian, he has always condemned racism, anti-Semitism and white nationalism.

“The attempt to suggest that notes on a series of biblical sermons many years ago are a ‘manifesto’ calling for mass murder is a ridiculous smear designed (both in timing and tone) as a desperate effort to derail my service to this community and this country,” he wrote, citing his previous service with the U.S. Army in Bosnia and Iraq. “For those of us who know the awful cost of war and have seen the aftermath of atrocities firsthand such smears are despicable.”

He said this was his final statement on the matter.

Knezovich said he has been growing increasingly concerned about Shea for years, particularly after the state lawmaker traveled to Nevada in 2014 to help form the Coalition of Western States, a group of state officials and activists who oppose what they contend is government overreach in protecting federal land. In 2016, Shea advocated for the occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in their standoff with federal agents.

Knezovich also said Shea has close ties to Marble Community Fellowship, a church north of Spokane. Barry Byrd, the founder of Marble Community, co-authored a 1988 manifesto that included passages stating that it’s blasphemous to call Jews “the Chosen People” or to allow them to hold public office, and that “Interracial marriage pollutes the integrity of marriage.”

“When I received this document two and half months ago from someone in Matt’s inner circle I was very, very concerned,” the sheriff said. “What that document stated very clearly is that should there be a government collapse or a civil war, this is a guidebook to be used to seize power. It’s not notes from a sermon — it’s a how-to and a justification to.”

Shea, who has outraised his opponent by a significant margin, has enjoyed unfailing support from evangelical Christians in his previous races, and some backers in the evangelical community have cast doubts on the timing and the relevance of the recently leaked document.

Ken Peters, pastor of Covenant Church in Spokane, and Youth Pastor Gabe Blomgren posted a Facebook Live video calling local stories about Shea’s notes on war “fake news.”

“They took a sermon from the Old Testament and spun it out to make Rep. Shea seem like an absolute fanatic, which is ridiculous. He’s a godly, Christian, wonderful man,” said Peters.

Blomgren added, “We work hard as Christians to get into the voting booths and get men like Matt Shea. This of course comes right at election time. His wife and him are beautiful Christian people — they’d never want to kill anyone.”

In public appearances and on social media, Shea makes little secret of his desire to defend America from non-Christian influences. He frequently blames liberals for destroying America and states that the country is unarguably a Christian nation. Marxists and Islamists, he says, are its biggest threats. At a rally in August, Shea called journalists “dirty, godless, hateful people,” and he’s been advocating for breaking Washington state in two to create a 51st state.

In 2016 he organized the Spokane chapter of the anti-Muslim, pro-Trump ACT for America group, which the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as a hate group. Shea, who has called the SPLC an anti-Christian, radical organization, discredits its claim.

Cummings, the Democrat, said there’s been an uptick in support for his campaign since Shea’s notes were leaked. “This gives me hope that this might be a turning point,” he said.

“I think people are fed up with our president and people like Matt. Enough is enough,” Cummings said. “Vilifying Muslims or Jews or immigrants … it’s not OK and we’re going to continue to resist and confront this.”

Cummings, a Catholic, said that if elected he won’t impose his beliefs on anyone, noting that faith is best exemplified through working hard and practicing compassion.

Cummings said win or lose, he will continue fighting to end hate in his community.

“This isn’t accepted in Eastern Washington. It’s not accepted anywhere in this country, and I want to be a part of that,” he said.

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Tracy Simmons

30 Comments

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  • Re: “They took a sermon from the Old Testament and spun it out …” 

    That’s not true. I defy anyone to show me which “sermon from the Old Testament,” specifically, this outline of a manifesto is based on. I’ve looked, and I can’t find it. 

    What I can find in it are citations or mentions of various portions of scripture: Is 57:1; Dt 28:1 & 15; Judges 3 (as well as the whole book of Judges); Dt 4:34; 2 Chr 23:12; Ex 33:13-15; 2 Chr 7:14; 2 Chr 23:8-9; the book of Micah; and Prov 21:31. These separated bits do not, by any means, comprise any “sermon from the Old Testament.” Moreover, there are New Testament references: Heb 11:32; and Jas 4:8 & 17, which cannot even remotely be said to be part of “a sermon from the Old Testament.” 

    People really need to stop lying about this and just admit what this document is: The outline of a lesson or lecture in Christofascism. To say anything else about it is absurd on its face. 

  • So, the Democrats went from, what did Kavanaugh do when he was eighteen; to what did Shea say when he was fourteen. Next they will be coming for those thumb in the mouth little Republicans. The terrible twos.

  • None of this is a denial that Republicans are miscreants. Just that they don’t like to hear about their past misdeeds.

  • Just as the rain falls on the just and unjust
    so to does the Light of the world shine on those who chose Light over darkness.
    One leads to the all else and the other to darkness.
    There is plenty for all when the Spirit of Light and the Bio/physics of it all are the context of by which one chooses to govern.

  • There wasn’t any same sex marriage when he was 14, so unless he is prescient, this isn’t an old anything. It is very recent. Your spin is fake news.

  • PsiCop, I think that you need to take a step back and read the sentence again from a less myopic viewpoint. It isn’t saying that this is a sermon printed in the OT, it is saying that it is a sermon that he wrote based on concepts that he drew from the OT.

    However, like you, I don’t agree with his OT scholarship based on cherry-picked verses.

  • Re: “… it is saying that it is a sermon that he wrote based on concepts that he drew from the OT.” 

    It may be that Shea’s apologist was trying to say that, but if so … well … why didn’t he say it that way? Clarity matters. It’s not my job to correct his own misstatement for him. 

  • Different parts of the US construct/espress the same idea differently. I read the way I believe he intended it the first time. I didn’t see your reading until you wrote your comment.

  • Allah is the Arabic word for God in Abrahamic religions.
    Muhammad was the founder of Islam. According to Islamic doctrine, he was a prophet and God’s messenger, sent to present and confirm the monotheistic teachings preached previously by Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other prophets.
    Gee, these ancient manuscripts contain the same characters.

  • In the English language, “Allah” generally refers to God in Islam.

    Matt Shea is an English-speaking resident of Washington state.

    Muhammad does not appear in either the Old or the New Testaments.

  • New flash: the world is not mandated to fall in to blind lock step to your chosen manuscript. The last thing needed on this earth is another theocracy, they’re inherently dangerous and strip women of all autonomy.

  • This English-speaker would have ONLY used the word “Allah” in discussing Islam.

    Meaning.

    Definition.

    Communication.

  • News Flash:

    No one suggested that the world is mandated to fill into blind lock step to any manuscript.

  • They probably are from “sermon notes” somewhere. That’s a political problem we have. Many sermons are ridiculous.

  • He is using God as the rationale for killing others. That is what ISIS does. They use the word “Allah”, because that is how they refer to God.

  • Based on what we have in the article, he appears to have summarized the OT view of war and considered its application to some current issues some years ago.

    We do not have the sermon, and we do not have the context.

    As a result his statement that “The attempt to suggest that notes on a series of biblical sermons many years ago are a ‘manifesto’ calling for mass murder is a ridiculous smear ….” seems at least credible.

    Spokane Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich is at best on the edge of the political process and at worst a complete nutjob.

  • And you are always right, and anyone who disagrees with you is wrong, or “on the edge of the political process and at worst a nutjob (sic)”…

  • Unlike you I am rather inclined to go with facts duly ascertained after the application of right reason.

    The article was sufficiently perplexing – it smacked of a plant by a political movement or politician – that I took the trouble to research Spokane Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

    This entry merely hints at how far off the center Sherrif Knezovich walks:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ozzie_Knezovich

    Additional research, IMHO, supported the conclusion that he is on the edge of the political process and at worst a nutjob.

    After you do your due diligence, and conduct your own research, do share with everyone whether you agree or disagree.

  • If the fellow said/preached these things, then they were already public, not secret or confidential. And if he said/preached them, then it doesn’t matter how or when or what the motivation for why they have now got wider distribution.

    And if he no longer believes them, then all he has to do is say so. But he does not seem to deny any of the content of it.

  • Au contraire! The battle of Armageddon was written about, very many years ago. Shea didn’t know what he was saying when he wrote his manifesto, and on top of that it was taken out of context, and it is unlikely at his present age and maturity, that he believes what he wrote when he was fourteen.

  • To get an idea of what the difference is between Old Testament and New Testament way of handling things, see
    Luke 9:51-56.

    A Samaritan village did receive Jesus. Incensed the disciples James and John asked of Jesus (depending on the translation) : “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them just as Elijah did?” Jesus rebuked them, and said to them “For the Son of man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” And they went on to another village.

  • This guy is in sad shape.

    Wikipedia offers the following information about him:

    “Shea organized the Spokane chapter of ACT! for America, anti-Muslim organization designated as a hate group by Southern Poverty Law Center.

    “Shea has been the focus of news articles related to angry outbursts at his legislative office, and a report claiming that he was disarmed by a commander while he served in Iraq due to anger management issues.

    “Shea has frequently clashed with journalists, referring to reporters as ‘those dirty, godless, hateful people’ in an August 2018 gun-rights rally.

    “Shea was divorced from his first wife in January 2008. Lisa Shea was granted a protective order by a court after filing court documents complaining that Shea treated her ‘as a possession,’ and was physically and emotionally abusive. She attested that Shea ‘insisted she walk on his left side because his sword, if he had one, would be on his right side,’ and protested that he would not seek profitable employment despite being a lawyer. Shea denied any physical abuse. Matt Shea subsequently remarried. In November 2011, Shea allegedly ‘pulled a gun during a confrontation with another motorist’ in what police reports described as an incident of road rage. Shea was initially charged with possessing a loaded handgun in a vehicle without a concealed weapons permit; the charge was ultimately resolved under a ‘stipulated order of continuance,’ in which ‘Shea paid a $75 fee and agreed that the information in the police report is correct’ and the charge was dismissed after the passage of one year with no criminal violations.”

    As an e-mail friend put it:

    “Giving credence, let alone attention to someone who obviously needs not just a course in the Constitutional Law, but therapy is ill advised. Give this person enough rope and he will not only hang himself but wrap himself into knots of idiocy and utter confusion of his own doing. If anything he has clearly demonstrated he needs further education, a list of travel spots and a healthy relationship with another human being.

    “Realizing nuts can be mixed, roasted or lightly salted.”

    To argue this poor fella needs professional help would be an understatement.

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