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It's been blogged all over the place, so doubtless you've read about a rather alarming development on the religious extremist front in Texas. I'm talking about the militia-style hate group known as Repent Amarillo. Here's the banner from their website:

Repent Amarillo banner

When you go their website, you're treated to some martial music and the sound of gunshots. They refer to themselves as the Army of God, and their motto is:

"We are the Special Forces of spiritual warfare, we're looking for a few good warriors."

Think Progress has a good post about the group (based on original reporting by the Texas Observer), summarizing some of their goals. Note the part I've emphasized in boldface:

An evangelical Christian hate group called "Repent Amarillo" is reportedly terrorizing the town of Amarillo, Texas. Repent fashions itself as a sort of militia and targets a wide range of community members they deem offensive to their theology: gays, liberal Christians, Muslims, environmentalists, breast cancer events that do not highlight abortion, Halloween, "spring break events," and pornography shops. On its website, Repent has posted a "Warfare Map" of its enemies in town...

... Led by a man named David Grisham, a security guard at a nuclear-bomb facility called Pantex, Repent first gained media attention in Texas following a campaign to boycott Houston for electing a gay mayor. The group, which is associated with Raven Ministries, collaborates with other Christian groups as well as forced pregnancy advocacy associations like "Bound 4 Life."

Since nuclear weapons, nuclear materials, and national security are a big interests of mine, I wanted to bring special attention to the fact that this group of religious extremists is led by someone who is a guard at one of the most secure facilities in the United States -- a facility so secure, in fact, that, as journalists Nathan Hodge and Sharon Weinberger mention in their book:

Pantex... requires a "Q" clearance (the Department of Energy's version of "top secret") to even get in the door.

There's a damned good reason for this level of security. Although Pantex used to be where nuclear weapons were assembled, its current mission, as a government-owned/contractor-operated facility includes the following:

  • Evaluate, retrofit, and repair weapons in support of both life extension programs and certification of weapon safety and reliability
  • Dismantle weapons that are surplus to the strategic stockpile
  • Sanitize components from dismantled weapons
  • Develop, test, and fabricate high explosive components
  • Provide interim storage and surveillance of plutonium pits

To give you an idea of the scale of Pantex, a recent International Panel on Fissile Materials report (pdf) indicates that there are an estimated 14,000 plutonium pits stored at the site, i.e. the weapons-grade plutonium from bombs that have been taken apart. There is also some highly enriched uranium stored there, as well as bombs waiting to be dismantled.

You get the picture.

I don't know what David Grisham's access level is, but he's been a member of the Pantex security force for twenty-two years, so I can only assume that he's rather well-established; it's also safe to assume that he has a high security clearance, given the nature of the facility that employs him.

The fact is that he is a bona fide religious extremist, a self-labeled warrior of Christ who has taken it upon himself to lead a group of bullies on a crusade. According to an interview with a local independent publication, Grisham says he heard "the voice of God" speak to him from Mayan ruins, telling him to "do something about America's decline". Apparently "doing something" means being a thug and persecuting members of the community while wearing fatigues.

It's not Grisham's religious beliefs I have a problem with. It's his extremism and the degree to which he has taken it that is a huge problem. His group bears the earmarks of a fledgling militia, part of the rising tide of hate groups seen across the United States today.

Most noteworthy, he is part of the security forces at an extremely sensitive nuclear facility. He is part of how secure the facility is, and that's very, very worrying to me.

People in this position should not be part of extremist movements. That should go without saying.

(Additional discussion in xxdr zombiexx's diary posted yesterday.)

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Mar 06, 2010 at 09:18 AM PST.

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