February 2020 Church & State Magazine | People & Events

A legislator in Washington state stands accused of working with extremists on a scheme to persuade eastern counties to secede and form their own theocratic “liberty state.”

State Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane) gained notice last year after he admitted authoring a manifesto on the “Biblical Basis for War” that argued that Christians have the right to kill men who support abortion or marriage equality. At the time, Shea claimed he was merely summarizing passages from biblical books for a sermon, but some state lawmakers weren’t convinced and asked a former FBI agent to look into the matter.

The agent’s report found that Shea, “as a leader in the Patriot Move­ment, planned, engaged in and promoted a total of three armed conflicts of political violence against the United States Government in three states outside the state of Washington over a three-year period.”

The Seattle Times reported that Shea worked with militia leader Ammon Bundy, who in January 2016 led an armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Shea also appeared at two other incidents involving anti-government extremists, one in Nevada and one in Idaho.

“Representative Shea presents a present and growing threat of risk to others through political violence,” the report asserted.

New York magazine reported that Shea has close ties to Jack Robertson, a right-wing online radio host, and that the two have worked together on a plan to pull several eastern counties in Washington out of the state to form a new, avowedly Christian government.