This week two faith-based organizations joined officials in calling for the removal of State Rep. Matt Shea after more leaked e-mails showed that he sought to surveil local progressive leaders in his attempt to establish a 51st state governed by Christians.
The Faith Leaders and Leaders of Conscience of Eastern Washington and North Idaho, an area interfaith organization, released a letter with 24 signatures from clergy and other faith leaders that read:
We are mindful of the life threatening reality of both Christian Dominionism and white supremacy that exists in our communities and our nation. We recognize that domestic terrorism has become a threat to our freedoms of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We see and hear the words of Representative Shea and recognize how they stoke fear and promote violence. We have read his “Biblical Basis for War” and declare that his use of Christianity and the Bible are thin veils for his racism and bigotry.
With the epidemic of mass shootings, we are reminded that brutality grows out of words and actions like those of Representative Shea. We firmly declare that bigotry and violence have no place in our communities. We hold out the heart of hope and the hands of forgiveness to those seduced by this ideology. Come home to community. Turn around. You are also our neighbor.
They urged government officials to “do the right thing” and expose Shea’s extremism.
“We will not remain silent and we encourage others to raise your voices with us. It is the morally right thing for Representative Shea to resign or be removed from office immediately,” the letter read.
The Faith Action Network, a statewide organization which works on issues of safety and justice through the legislative process, submitted a similar letter to SpokaneFāVS.
“Rep. Shea has abused the public trust by using his public office to promote a white supremacist-based distortion of Christianity. He has engaged in organizing practices that encourage violence based on his pseudo-Christian ideology,” the letter stated.
There is much that FAN finds offensive and damaging about Rep. Shea’s politics of division, exclusion, and hate. We are particularly disturbed by the following:
– He has developed and implemented a curriculum (what he calls the “Biblical Basis for War”) to prepare for a holy war and overthrow civil society.
– He supported the training of young men and boys into a pseudo-Christian white supremacist ideological militia (“Team Rugged”).
– He engaged in a violent campaign of intimidation against his perceived political enemies.
– He continues to use his Patriot Radio program to call for those who think like him to arm themselves with guns for a coming battle where they will kill feminists, LGBTQ people, Muslims, Jews, and Christians who do not believe as he does.
FAN concluded the letter by applauding the House of Representatives for launching an investigation into Shea.
Tracy Simmons is an award-winning journalist specializing in religion reporting and digital entrepreneurship. In her approximate 20 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti. Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas, Connecticut and Washington. She is the executive director of SpokaneFāVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Washington. She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and national publications. She is a Scholarly Assistant Professor of Journalism at Washington State University.