KANSAS CITY, Missouri – A group that claims its mission to “stop and repel the forces of darkness” is hosting a tactical event in southwestern Missouri this weekend to train Christians in “hand-to-hand combat” and “combat actions “. your car “.
Dubbed Missouri Warriors in Combat, the event recalls the militia drills and training exercises that spread throughout the country in the 1990s. It is slated to launch from 8 am to 10 pm Saturday in a wooded area in Newton County.
“We are a group of Christian men and women who will stand up against unrighteousness,” said Kevin Van Storey, a Neosho real estate broker and editorial leader of the MAKO Salt and Light Brigade, which includes Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas. and Oklahoma.
“This is going to be an intensive study about self-defense. What happens if you were driving on I-70 last year when all this rioting was happening in Kansas City and St. Louis? It’s time for Christians to start attacking – at least to stop always defending themselves. “
But the head of an organization that has tracked extremist groups for decades said the event raised concerns.
“The group is trying to hide the training of far-right paramilitaries behind a friendly façade,” said Devin Burghart, executive director of the Institute for Human Rights Research and Education. “Whatever the label, the group uses racist intimidation to draw people into paramilitary activities. Whether they call it a militia, everyone should be concerned about the emergence of a far-right paramilitary group like this in Missouri. ”
VanStory stated that the “very loosely organized” group is not a militia and that the event should not be feared.
“We will be in the countryside, and in fact most of the training will involve airsoft guns,” he said. “I have no intention of ever using my pistol against another person unless I am in absolute fear for my life.”
VanStory, who ran unsuccessfully for the US House of Representatives in the 7th congressional district of Missouri last year, said he is not afraid to resolve controversial issues. His Facebook page is filled with anti-vaccine posts – he calls Dr. Anthony Fauci a “godless demon” – and he enjoys “witnessing and preaching a lot on the street.” This fall he organized protests in Joplin and Carthage against “forced tyrannical vaccinations.”
“One of the very first sentences in our Constitution is the right to seek freedom,” he said. “But our freedoms are now being taken away at an incomprehensible pace. I’m not crazy. I am a God-fearing, USA-loving person. I never, never in my life expected to do what I am doing now. “
He said he was pushed into action because “we had four decades of pampered or feminized pastors who robbed a man of his legitimate position as the leader of his family. … I am not saying that I am a man, I just want to protect my family. “
The Salt and Light Brigade is part of the non-profit Pass the Salt Ministries, based in Hebron, Ohio. The Saturday training, according to the organization’s website, is designed for “brigade members / Christians who understand the times in which we live” and “Christians who want to learn tactical, training and combat skills.”
It is also for “Christians who want to adapt, change the way we think, change the way we respond, and overcome difficulties and dangerous situations in which we ourselves may find ourselves.”
According to a post on VanStory’s Facebook page, the training will cover “clearing of premises, hand-to-hand combat and vehicle combat.” “There will be a dark / low light lesson on Saturday night. This will apply to the use of a flashlight (gun-mounted or hand-held) in the dark or in low light conditions. “
Additional one-to-one training is available on Sunday, the post said, which will include personal training in hand-to-hand combat as well as rifle and pistol handling.
Tickets are $ 135 per person and $ 200 per couple, and the event will be limited to 36 attendees. The Salt and Light Brigade has conducted similar activities in other states, including Ohio, Oklahoma, Montana, Texas and Wisconsin.
Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University in San Bernardino, said the Brigade’s language “is very similar to the rhetoric of the Christian patriot militias that I tracked in the 90s.”
“It doesn’t quite sound like a Boy Scout camp to me,” Levin said. “But I hope they are operating under Missouri’s very clear militia law. … When people combine training in aggressive weapons with demonizing government officials who are already under threat, this is not a recipe for civil dialogue. “
Levin said that Missouri, like all other states, has laws prohibiting private militias, and in 1886 the US Supreme Court ruled that states had the right to do so.
“In addition, federal law prohibits training and violent methods of inciting civil unrest,” he said. “If history has taught us anything, it is that private armies that do not obey the rule of law are a threat.”
Pass the Salt Ministries is run by Dave Daubenmire, a retired high school football coach whose school was sued by the American Civil Liberties Union in 1999 over complaints that staff members prayed and handed out Bible verses to players. The case was settled out of court, and the experience prompted Dobenmire to become an activist, he says on his website.
He dropped out of coaching and founded Pass the Salt Ministries “to encourage the Body of Christ to enter the culture war.”
Daubenmire, dubbed “Coach Dave,” made headlines protesting against everything from vaccines to “homosexual indoctrination of our children in public schools,” and once asked if America was any weaker today, “because multiculturalism is spiritual AIDS and brought infection into what was once the great Christian American culture. “