The Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord
What does the word "terrorist" bring to mind? Without even seeing the accused, most
people in this country automatically assume this person is Middle-Eastern and Muslim. Although
Stern's Terror in the Name of God focuses mainly on Islamic terrorists, it begins by addressing
terrorist acts of a more homegrown variety. Stern interviews American terrorists here in the United
The Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord or CSA, a group of radical Christians,
became one of the "most violent white supremacist centers of the 1980s" (Phelps). Members lived
communally on a 250-acre compound near the Arkansas-Missouri border (Barkun 428). The group
"came to accept the teachings of Identity Christianity," which, according to Stern, means seeing
"Anglo-Saxons as the 'true Israel,' America as a sacred land, and the Declaration of Independence
and the Constitution as a God-inspired, Christian inheritance" (17).
Followers of Identity Christianity also expect to be present for doomsday (Stern 17). In
fact, the members of the CSA believed the Apocalypse was imminent (The Covenant, the Sword and the
Arm of the Lord). As Kerry Noble (minister and second in command of the CSA explains, "we
are Christian survivalists who believe in preparing for the ultimate holocaust" (Paranoia as Patriotism).
And that is exactly what they did. The organization set up an "Endtime Overcomer Survival
Training School," which offered a course in military tactics, "Christian martial arts" and urban
warfare (Paranoia as Patriotism). All male members of the group trained in every aspect of military
action (The Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord) and each was issued full military gear,
including a rifle and a pistol (Stern 21). Weapons and food were stockpiled because the CSA
believed that American society was on the brink of famine, economic collapse and war
(Paranoia as Patriotism).
The CSA believed if they hastened the Apocalypse, the Messiah would return sooner (Stern
11), granting them all an earlier access to paradise. Those deemed "sinners" would have to be
judged. This included homosexuals, liberals "and all those who refused the word of the
Lord... they were the enemy, and so they would have to die... we wanted peace," a
member states, "but if purging had to precede peace, then let the purge begin"' (Stern xiv).
Stern says "purging" included "murder, firebombing a synagogue and a church that
accepted homosexuals" and "conspiracy to assassinate federal officials." It also included car and
gas pipeline bombings, plans to poison major city water supplies with cyanide and bomb the
Oklahoma City Federal Building, and the siege "on abortion clinics and gay bars." (xiv). Other
allegations involve theft and altering of vehicles (Stern 28) and bank robberies (Paranoia as
Patriotism). In fact, the far-right gunmen were quite good at robbing banks. Successfully, they
robbed 19 banks in...