The Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord

The Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (CSA) was started in Arkansas as a small fundamentalist Christian group called Zarephath-Horeb, meaning “refuge and divine inspiration,” by James Ellison in 1971. Ellison eventually adopted Christian Identity, a race-based theology that claims whites are the only true descendants of God, Jews are descended from Satan, and all other races are descended from animals. The group adopted an antigovernment stance and changed its name to symbolize its paramilitary function.

Although members sold weapons and hate literature and engaged in some criminal activity, the group crossed the line into terrorism in 1983 after Gordon Kahl, a North Dakota farmer and member of the Posse Comitatus, refused to pay his taxes. After shooting and killing two federal marshals, Kahl was killed in a shootout with the authorities, making him a martyr for the extreme right. As ...

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