I never met a member of the Army of God, that I know of. In 1984, I and my friends were busy being arrested in front of the Eureka Post Office which housed the local FBI office. We were charged with a federal crime, prosecuted and given 100 hours of community service. Two things were interesting. Number one, I had to talk the city’s Chief of Police into arresting us. He told me he did not want us to get aangry at him. I told him it was our plan to get arrested and we would appreciate his cooperation. He complied.
The other interesting thing was a small group who asked to talk to me as we organized ourselves in our demo against the wars in Central America. The group were four young activists who wanted to help me understand that they could not join us in trying to save the environment because they were against abortion and we weren’t. They invited me to their church services to be held that evening. I went. It was the Gospel Outrech Church.
For more than 30 years anti-abortion extremists have attempted to use violence against abortion providers to advance their own personal and political agendas. They have injured and murdered health care workers across the country and intimidated and harassed patients who need reproductive health care.
Many of the key anti-abortion extremists who advocate and perpetrate violence against reproductive health care centers and abortion providers frequently travel across city, county, state, and international boundaries to participate in these activities. They are often in contact and work to assist each other by offering resources such as housing and funding.
History of the Army of God
An excerpt from the Army of God Manual says that the Army of God “…is a real Army, and God is the General and Commander-in-Chief. The soldiers, however, do not usually communicate with one another. Very few have ever met each other. And when they do, each is usually unaware of the other’s soldier status. That is why the Feds will never stop this Army. Never. And we have not yet even begun to fight.”
The first public mention of the Army of God (AOG) is believed to have been when Don Benny Anderson used the AOG name in 1982 when he and Matthew and Wayne Moore kidnapped an Illinois abortion provider and his wife. The couple was later released unharmed and the trio were apprehended and convicted. Benny Anderson and the Moore brothers were also responsible for abortion clinic arsons.
Many other threatening and violent incidents are attributed to the Army of God. A few examples are as follows:
In 1984, Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun received a death threat through the mail from the Army of God. Also in 1984, several abortion clinics as well as the offices of the National Abortion Federation and the American Civil Liberties Union were bombed. The name Army of God was found at one of the crime scenes. Michael Bray, Thomas Spinks, and Kenneth Shields were responsible for the crimes and spent time in prison.
In letters sent to the media, the Army of God claimed responsibility for the bombing of an abortion clinic and a gay bar in Atlanta, GA. Eric Robert Rudolph was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List prior to his capture in May 2003. He pled guilty to these crimes.
Army of God member James Kopp, alias Atomic Dog, was convicted for the fatal shooting of Dr. Barnett Slepian in 1998. Also thought to be linked to Kopp are shootings that injured Dr. Garson Romalis in Vancouver, BC, on November 8, 1994, Dr. Hugh Short in Ancaster, ON, on November 10, 1995 (Kopp is charged with this shooting), an unnamed physician in Rochester, NY, on October 28, 1997, and Dr. Jack Fainman in Winnipeg, MB, on November 11, 1997.
Clayton Waagner, the man who was convicted of sending over 550 anthrax threat letters to clinics in 2001, signed many of his threat letters with the Army of God. He also posted threats to kill 42 individuals working at abortion clinics on the Army of God website.
The Army of God Manual
The Army of God Manual was discovered in Shelly Shannon’s backyard in 1993 by law enforcement officials while searching Shannon’s home and property after she shot Dr. Tiller in Wichita, KS.
It is believed that the Army of God manual was first drafted when numerous anti-abortion extremists were arrested and jailed together for several weeks for protests during the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, GA, in October 1988. It was during this time that the Army of God was formed and its members given aliases. James Kopp was given the name Atomic Dog.
There are three editions of the Army of God manual, published about a year apart and each advocating escalating acts of violence. The third edition advocates the murder of abortion providers as the only way to really stop abortion.
The manual is essentially a “how to” for abortion clinic violence. It details methods for blockading entrances, butyric acid attacks, arson, bomb-making, and other illegal activities. The manual contains not only strong anti-abortion sentiments but also anti-government and anti-gay/lesbian language.
The “declaration” at the beginning of the manual states: “Beginning officially with the passage of the Freedom of Choice Act – we, the remnant of God-fearing men and women of the United States of Amerika (sic), do officially declare war on the entire child killing industry. After praying, fasting, and making continual supplication to God for your pagan, heathen, infidel souls, we then peacefully, passively presented our bodies in front of your death camps, begging you to stop the mass murdering of infants. Yet you hardened your already blackened, jaded hearts. We quietly accepted the resulting imprisonment and suffering of our passive resistance. Yet you mocked God and continued the Holocaust. No longer! All of the options have expired. Our Most Dread Sovereign Lord God requires that whosoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed. Not out of hatred of you, but out of love for the persons you exterminate, we are forced to take arms against you. Our life for yours – a simple equation. Dreadful. Sad. Reality, nonetheless. You shall not be tortured at our hands. Vengeance belongs to God only. However, execution is rarely gentile.”
The Army of God and James Kopp
At the beginning of the Army of God manual there is a “special thanks” section. The first name mentioned is Atomic Dog, which is known to be James Kopp’s Army of God alias.
Anti-abortion extremist and Army of God leader Michael Bray was the host of the annual White Rose banquets. Last held publicly in 2001, the banquets honored those extremists who were in prison for committing acts of violence, celebrated the violence, and encouraged supporters to commit additional violent acts. The banquet attracted 30-50 attendees from around the country who supported violence and often had committed violence against abortion providers themselves. One attendee of the 2001 banquet was Dennis Malvasi. In March of 2001 Malvasi and Loretta Marra were arrested for assisting James Kopp while he was on the run from law enforcement. They were accused of sending Kopp money and helping him to plan his return to the United States. Malvasi and Marra pled guilty and were sentenced to time served (over two years). They were released in September 2003. It was during an attempt to pick up the money from a post office that Kopp was finally captured in Dinan, France, about two and a half years after the murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian.
In addition, in 2003 Bray called for extremists to gather in Buffalo, NY, during the Roe v. Wadeanniversary to support the actions of James Kopp. The group held a press conference and picketed in front of the courthouse in support of Kopp. Bray visited Kopp in prison during his stay in Buffalo and returned for Kopp’s trial.
Key Players in the Army of God
Michael Bray – Bray has been called the Chaplain of the Army of God. He was the host of the annual White Rose Banquets. Bray is the author of a book called A Time to Kill, which attempts to give a biblical justification for the use of force against abortion providers. Bray frequently and publicly applauds the use of violence to stop abortion and has been jailed for bombing abortion clinics.
Neal Horsley – Horsley was featured in the HBO movie “Soldiers in the Army of God,” and hosts the Nuremberg Files website (www.christiangallery.com), where he posts the names and personal information of abortion providers. The website has been called a “hit list.” Another Horsley website (www.abortioncams.com) posts photographs and video of patients, staff and physicians entering and exiting clinics.
Eric Robert Rudolph – Rudolph pled guilty to the bombing and resulting murder of an off-duty police officer at an abortion clinic in Birmingham, AL, and for the bombing and resulting murder at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, as well as two other bombings. The Army of God was referenced in letters to the media after these incidents claiming credit for the bombings. Rudolph disappeared in 1998 and was captured in May 2003.
Shelley Shannon – Shannon is currently in prison for arson and the attempted murder of Dr. George Tiller. After her arrest for the shooting, police searched her home and found the Army of God manual buried in her backyard. Shannon is also named in the “special thanks” section of the manual under her nickname, Shaggy West.
Donald Spitz – Spitz hosts the Army of God website (www.armyofgod.com), which mocks the murder of Dr. Slepian. Spitz also posted correspondence from Clayton Waagner that threatened abortion clinic staff on his website while Waagner was on the run from law enforcement officials. More recently he has posted writings from convicted bomber and murderer Eric Rudolph. He was the “spiritual advisor” to convicted murderer Paul Hill in the weeks before Hill’s September 2003 execution.
Clayton Waagner – Waagner was convicted in November 2003 for sending over 550 anthrax threat letters to clinics across the United States. Many of the threat letters referenced the Army of God. Waagner also posted on the Army of God website a threat to kill anyone working at an abortion clinic and claimed to have specific information targeting 42 clinic staff. Waagner led law enforcement officials on a nationwide, nearly year-long chase before being captured. He is currently in federal prison.
The Army of God and Justifiable Homicide
Members of the Army of God support violence against abortion providers. After the murders of Drs. Gunn and Britton, Defensive Action, or justifiable homicide petitions were circulated among those who agreed that Michael Griffin’s and Paul Hill’s actions were “justifiable.” (Griffin murdered Dr. Gunn and Hill murdered Dr. Britton and his escort Jim Barrett.) Hill and his attorneys tried to use the “justifiable homicide” defense in his murder trial but the judge would not allow it. He ruled that the defense was not valid because it did not meet the standards of Florida’s justifiable homicide law, which is cited only in cases of self-defense or when a defendant killed to protect a third person.
Below is a list of the signatories of the two petitions and their cities of residence at the time they signed the petition(s). The numbers indicate if they signed the first and/or second petition.
Michael Bray – Bowie, MD, I and II
C. Roy McMillan – Jackson, MS, I and II
Andrew Burnett – Portland, OR, I and II
Cathy Ramey – Portland, OR, I and II
Matt Trewhella – Milwaukee, WI, I
Paul J. Hill – Pensacola, FL, I
Paul deParrie – Portland, OR, I and II
Regina Dinwiddie – MO, I and II
Michael Dodds – Wichita, KS, I
Henry Felisone – Queens, NY, I and II
Tony Piso – Forest Hill, NY, I
Jacob Miller – Tampa, FL, I
Dan Bray – Bowie, MD, I
David Crane – Norfolk, VA, I
Donald Spitz – Norfolk, VA, I and II
Michael Jarecki – Brushton, NY, I
Bill Koehler – North Bergen, NJ, I and II
Kenneth Arndt – Windham, NH, I
Dave Leach – Des Moines, IA, I and II
Mike Walker – AL, I
Thomas Carleton – Billerica, MA, I and II
Valerie Zvskowski – Pittsburgh, PA, I
Joseph F. O’Hara, Wilkes-Barre, PA, I and II
David Graham – Olathe, KS, I and II
David Trosch – Mobile, AL, I and II
Rev. Dr. Michael Colvin – Bowie, MD, II
Thomas G. Hammond – Senatobia, MS, II
Betty L. Hammond – Senatobia, MS, II
Dr. Ronald Graeser – Freemont, MI, II
Dawn Stover – Portland, OR, II
Fr. Robert Pearson – West Long Banch, NJ, II
The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is the professional association of abortion providers in North America. Our work supports the dedicated health care professionals who make reproductive choice a reality, as well as the women they serve.
The AoG Allegation