God’s army : the CSA, the Montana Freemen, anti-government ideology, and violence in the twentieth century.


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This thesis describes and analyzes anti-government extremism in America through the lens of two organizations, The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (CSA) of the 1980s and the Montana Freemen of the 1990s. This thesis first asserts that scholars and experts should make a clear connection between the White supremacist paramilitaries of the 1980s to the politically motivated militias of the 1990s. Observing this connection highlights critical continuities that help better understand the twentieth- century anti-government movement and its implications in the twenty-first. This thesis also asserts that the flexibility of the CSA’s leaders’ ideology, in contrast to the rigidity of the Montana Freemen’s leaders’ ideology, deeply impacted the two groups' different trajectories. This claim is proved by closely examining and explaining the two groups; the government agents, legal systems, and legislative institutions that interacted with them, and changes in the public rhetoric surrounding them. This thesis seeks a better understanding of anti-government activism and violence in America, past and present.