The white Church Militant: The Black Robe Regiment being built by right-wing power.

A9 Collective
18 min readOct 6, 2022

A collaboration between A9 Collective and Sphere Walker.

There’s a group of Christian thought leaders in America who have crafted a mythology of the American Revolution where it burst forth from the pulpit onto the battlefield, where you never hear about the heated debates that poured out from the taverns or the passionate political treatise inspired by the Enlightenment. This church-centric fable is single-mindedly concerned with the idea of a special deal between God and the United States. In their eyes, the reverend is a warrior, and patriotism is faith. Like the revolutionary Christians of their mythology, they want to prepare today’s congregations for a militant defense of this imagined treaty with Heaven.

They call themselves the Black Robe Regiment (BRR) and they are coming to the Pacific Northwest. On Oct 16–19 they will be holding a “boot camp for pastors” in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.

BRR mingles in circles that include a smorgasbord of neo-fascists, from the likes of far-right thought leader Steve Bannon to militias like the insurrectionist Oath Keepers, or PNW-based alt-right rabble-rousers like Patriot Prayer. They are an insurrectionary-themed group of Dominionists who recruit pastors nationwide into a militia-aligned oath, pushing theocracy from the pulpit, rebuking churches they view as effeminate, and calling for a stout Christianity that isn’t afraid to take up arms. They had a short heyday in the 2010s when Glenn Beck and David Barton introduced the idea to the Tea Party.

Now, with a receptive audience in the Christofascist ideology of Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and the far-right, the BRR is blooming anew. The Regiment has existed with some power, and some increases in attention, but are now moving closer and being funded and engaged by the right-wing movers and shakers. The Countering Disinformation Project also just dropped a fantastic analysis of the Black Robe Regiment’s ever-deepening ties to anti-vaxxers, militias, and Conservatives for National Policy. The coming event is another piece of that puzzle.

Their conference in Idaho will probably be a small affair, but in a season where people talk openly of a coming civil war, and with the figures attending, it warrants our attention. Coeur d'Alene is no longer the edge of extremism in America. The Black Robe Regiment is no longer fringe. The right is consolidating power and this event is an example of this move.

The PNW, the “American Redoubt” in particular, is a major front in the resistance against a fascist creep(1), and religion is very much in the mix. Extremist pastors like Matt Shea of Spokane, WA, Doug Wilson of Moscow, ID, or Tim Remington of Coeur D’Alene see the area as fertile ground for growing a Christofascist society. They preach a theology of “othering” — misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, and, for some, outright racism. Indeed, their efforts often work in tandem with the explicitly racist agendas of white nationalists who dream of and work towards, creating an ethnostate there. Moreover, several churches in the “Redoubt” have a spiritual DNA that returns to the racist Christian Identity movement.

BRR is coming in with a divine permission slip for this very violent energy that’s been building up in an area where it’s difficult to distinguish a Christian supremacist from a white supremacist. So who are these Black Robe preachers? What is the gospel of the Regiment? As we take a closer look, you’ll see that this isn’t just a fringe group of kooks. It’s a collection of power brokers with a dangerous ideology that is plugging into the mainstream of the church and the political hierarchies of the right.

We should be concerned.

What follows is information concerning the event and a close look at the speakers, their ideology, and their harms. The goal is to be a resource for folks on the ground and for analysts connecting the dots from a distance.

All credit to @stompthet for posting the flyer that tipped us off to the coming event and identified major players in the world of Christian Nationalism.

The Event

ALT: Image shows poster featuring photos of resort and images of speakers on Black paper. LIBERTY PASTORS BOOT CAMP Coeur D’Alene, ID — October 16–19, 2022 Biblical training on how to become a Black Robed preacher/leader in the 21st century: Biblical Principles of Civil Government What does it mean to be a Black Robe preacher & how do I become one? • Does Rom 13:1–5 demand unlimited submission to government? Image shows photos and names of speakers.

The flyer shows they plan to recruit and detail “how to become a Black Robed preacher.” They have gathered anti-vaxxers, legal conspirators, and former-elected officials with the goal of bringing pastors into the fold. One major area we have not been able to crack, but is crucial to call out is in the price.

“Only $99 registration…includes 3 nights, 6 meals, admission and materials for pastor and spouse. Special Christian investors have made these discounted tickets possible!”

Regular rates for the Coeur d'Alene Golf and Spa Resort, show a nightly price of around $399 to $599, for 3 nights being close to $1,200, not including food. This event is $99 for 3 nights plus meals and materials. The investment is significant. Who is fronting the bill for this recruiting event? Onboarding pastors appears to be a huge priority.

The Leaders

The event is led by Dan Fisher and Paul Blair. Dan is one of the biggest current boosters of the BRR and penned a book on the topic. He considers the BRR, a “Call For Preachers Who Will Fight(2).”

Image shows Dan Fisher’s book, Bringing Back the Black Robed Regiment. Image shows a black and white drawing of a revolutionary way soldier in. front of a church.

Fisher rubs elbows with the extreme right of both the white American church and the GOP. Historians Thomas Lecaque and JL Tomlin have been watching Fisher and calling out those he works with.

“Fisher not only preaches but also served two terms in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, where the Republican attempted to ban Advanced Placement history classes in Oklahoma public schools for “not being patriotic enough,” and ran for governor in 2018. He was a featured speaker — alongside former Donald Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon and Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson — at the Rod of Iron Ministries’ Freedom Festival (3).”

Rod of Iron Ministries is led by Pastor Sean Moon, who reveres weaponry and took to social media in the aftermath of J6 to call it the “Boston Tea Party of the Second American Revolution.” For further details check out Tim Dickinson’s excellent piece in Rolling Stone.

Joey Gibson, leader of Patriot Prayer, has pledged allegiance to the Proud Boys and is a known associate of Stewart Rhodes. His actions have brought violent attacks to Portland and other cities in the PNW, where he has openly worked with Nazi sympathizers and antisemites.

We know a lot about Bannon; fraudster, white Supremacist, and disinfo manufacturer.

Paul Blair is a former NFL player turned pastor. He leads The Liberty Church of Edmonds OK with Dan Fisher and they host a vlog, called Ridin’ The Storm Out together. Blair is also a member of Conservatives for National Policy (which we will examine more closely below).

https://rumble.com/v1iee2n-what-is-a-black-robed-pastor-ridin-the-storm-out-090322-s.-3-ep.-15.html

Shown above is Dan Fisher at the left and Paul Blair on the right. They are the leaders of the organization Liberty Pastors, which is hosting the event in Coeur D’Alene.

In 2021, Blair and Fisher laid out their plans for these boot camps in an interview. Here is a transcript:

“The guy that I co-pastor with, there’s two pastors in our church, Paul Blair, and myself, we’ve been working together for years now we’re in the same church together. Because we travel and speak so much. We have started doing what we call a Liberty pastors boot camp, or a Liberty pastors training camp. And by the way, you want to put that website up there to Libertypastors.com, okay, they can go to the website and find out where we’re going to do the next camp. We’re working on scheduling some right now. But what that camp is, is it’s a three day boot camp, and I mean boot camp, we begin it by me doing the Black Robe Regiment, the whole deal. But anyway, we teach pastors, the nuts and bolts, and we asked them to bring their wives with them, and we put them up for three days, they pay a nominal registration fee, and donors pay the overwhelming majority of the whole cost they get in, they get a kind of a three day vacation in a really swanky place with meals and everything. But we teach them the nuts and bolts of what it means to be a Black Robe Preacher, and how to do that in their churches and why it is so critical.”

From the same podcast:

“Mat Staver, the founder and president of Liberty Counsel. Mat Staver is one of the leading lawyers, attorneys in America, he’s defending Christians left and right. And he’s one of the leading authorities on Christians and tax law. And we have Matt Staver to speak at our boot camps that we do, we might want to mention those towards the end of our discussion, but at our boot camps, we have Matt speak, and he alleviates the fear that these pastors have of losing their tax- free status. I actually do a presentation on the IRS and the Johnson Amendment and all that kind of stuff. But here’s the deal. If we stay silent long enough, they’re going to weaponize the IRS, I’m just telling you, they’re gonna do that. And they’ll come after us eventually, if we keep staying silent. “

Note the mention of weaponizing the IRS and recent conspiracies being shared by the right. The boot camp is teaching pastors how to skirt the law, sow distrust in medicine, and recruit, recruit, recruit.

The Speakers

Dr. Merritt is a leading anti-vaxxer and spreader of disinformation about COVID-19. A 2021 NPR piece identified her as a contributor to harmful. conspiracy theories, stating,

Officials encourage vaccine-hesitant individuals to talk to their physician, as a way of combatting the vortex of false claims and conspiracy theories online. But a handful of doctors like Dr. Merritt have worked contrary to these efforts: spreading bad information about COVID-19.

Dr. Joe Schwarcz, in a piece published by Canadian McGill University, was more frank with their language, saying “she is way out on a limb. Let’s start sawing.” His piece positions Merritt as part of an org with a misleading name, America’s Frontline Doctors. Who is AFD?

… a handful of conspiracy-minded physicians that include luminaries such as Dr. Stella Immanuel who alleges that alien DNA is being used in medical treatments and that researchers are working on a vaccine to prevent people from becoming religious. She also believes in a conspiracy by the “Illuminati” to destroy the world with abortion, gay marriage, and of all things, children’s toys. As far as gynecological diseases go, they can be caused by having sex with witches and demons that appear in dreams (Schwarcz).

The founder of AFD, Dr. Simone Gold, was recently convicted and jailed for her participation in the J6 insurrection. Counter Disinformation’s recent reporting also shows Gold is a member of CNP, and has connections to Mike Flynn.

In a profile of Gold, Mother Jones highlighted her connection to John Strand, who was recently found, “guilty on all five counts in the indictment [for his role in the J6 insurrection], including obstructing an official proceeding and aiding and abetting, a felony that carries a maximum 20-year sentence and a $250,000 fine.”

Ever since the pandemic began America’s Frontline Doctors has been on the frontline of extremism, laundering their message through both small congregations and large influencer churches, like Awaken in San Diego. (We recommend following Awaken Exposed for more info on that church’s political activity.). Merritt’s inclusion in the BRR Boot Camp goes well beyond anti-vax conspiracies. She connects to the heart of the far-right’s political violence.

Rick Scarborough

First, Rick calls himself Dr. Rick, but his Doctorate in Ministry comes from an unaccredited school. Rick leads an organization called Recover America and its affiliate, Recover America Action. Both orgs have an express purpose of mobilizing pastors “to engage in the civil arena.” For Rick and Recover America, this means far-right ideology. Even in 2005, Rick was manufacturing a culture war. The Washington Post profiled him at that time, stating:

He attacked high school sex education courses, experimental medical treatments and transsexuals [their problematic wording] trying to change their gender identification. He recruited like-minded candidates to run for the local school board and city council. He crisscrossed the country to protest the ousting of Roy S. Moore, former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, for installing a Ten Commandments tablet at his courthouse. And Scarborough created a network of “Patriot Pastors” to lead evangelicals to the polls in 2004.

At that time, he reportedly recruited 2,000 pastors in a 2 weeks period. It’s not hard to imagine the influence he exerts in today’s movement. As a Southern Baptist, Rick has connected with power. In 2014, the City of Houston subpoenaed records and texts of sermons from Baptist ministers who had violated hate speech laws. Baptists called foul and rallied against the move, defending the bigotry being preached from the pulpit. Rick spoke at the protests, which were hosted by an SPLC-designated extremist group, the Family Research Council.

Among others slated to speak: former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Duck Dynasty’s Phil and Alan Robertson, Todd Starnes of Fox News and Vision America President Rick Scarborough (Baptist Press News).

Rick is opposed to same-sex marriage, and described it as a sign America was “closer to hell (Texas Monthly).” In 2013, Rick led a Tea Party group and brainstormed a class-action lawsuit against, “homosexuality for leading to AIDS (Culture Map).”

How connected is Rick to founders of the Black Robes? Deeply. Note the above Tea Party leadership and this episode of Rick’s podcast in 2021, showing his relationship with Barton.

Screenshot of Apple Podcast page for Rick’s podcast, Mixing Church & State with Rick Scarborough. “ Christian historian David Barton we will discuss how easy it is to impact the culture if Christians will just show up”
Rick’s podcast

GLAAD also has a profile on Rick and his hate against LGBTQIA+ folks. In 2016, Rick worked closely with the Family Research Council to host a Free to Believe Forum with then-presidential hopefuls, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, and Rick Santorum. Rachel Maddow reported on the event,

The Family Research Council says they’re going to appear in a special broadcast with the guy who says he is so opposed to homosexuality that he once said he was ready to burn to death rather than accept gay marriage as legal…Where Rick Scarborough really stands out is in his continued propagation of the theory that AIDS is a disease sent by God to punish gay people which at this point is kind of an old fashioned assertion, even for the religious right. Rick Scarborough is so old fashioned about this he even still refers to AIDS by one name that was used for a hot second in the early 80s — it meant ‘gay related immune deficiency’ — Scarborough still uses that term.

The event also featured Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, someone Rick is connected to in many ways, chiefly their joint membership in Conservatives for National Policy.

Mat Staver

Mat Staver leads the Liberty Counsel, in the news recently for their involvement in several recent Supreme Court cases. Liberty Counsel was found to be having private and secret prayer meetings with justices while also being cited in decisions and opinions. Rolling Stone exposed the story and Staver was shown to be a prominent player in the dirty dealings. His bio reads like a who’s-who in conservative chicanery.

Mat Staver serves as Senior Pastor, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel; Chairman of Liberty Counsel Action, Faith and Liberty, National Pro-life Center, Freedom Federation, Salt & Light Council, and National House of Hope; Founder and Chairman of Liberty Relief International; Vice President and Chief Counsel of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (which includes over 42,000 Evangelical Hispanic churches); former Vice President of Liberty University; former dean and tenured professor of law at Liberty University School of Law; Trustee of Timothy Plan, a New York and Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange-traded family of mutual funds; Trustee of the Supreme Court Historical Society; Member of the Board of Reference of the Christian Film and Television Commission; Member of the Board of Advisors of Care for Pastors; Founder and former President of Staver & Associates; and Founder and former President of The Staver Group (LC).

In 2019, Staver and the Liberty Counsel advocated against the mention of LGBTQIA+ folks in anti-lynching legislation. “Liberty Counsel, an evangelical nonprofit that opposes gay rights, and its chairman, Mat Staver, are taking issue with the bill’s inclusion of LGBTQ people (NBC).” Staver also served on an executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. He was appointed by Ronnie Floyd who later resigned due to the revelation of rampant sex abuse in the SBC, which the executive committees had been aware of and covered up.

Perhaps his most powerful accolade is his role on the Board of Governors in the secretive Council for National Policy. The New York Times called CNP, “a little-known club of a few hundred of the most powerful conservatives in the country.” Others call them a secretive cabal of right-wing power. The CNP was founded by Tim LaHaye, who wrote Left Behind as propaganda (or a psyop on Evangelicals for his CNP agenda).

Members of CNP include:

Obviously, the folks on this list are not fringe actors. They represent the core of conservative power circles. The fact that Staver, McEwen, Reese, Blair, and Scarborough — top power brokers in the far-right — are coming to little ol’ Coeur D’Alene to recruit pastors for their culture war should raise alarms.

Bob McEwen

Bob McEwen is the Exec. Director of the CNP and a former congressman from Ohio. He helped spread the stolen election conspiracy and claimed that, “The nation has never seen this level of injustice before and the people are aroused.” Bob’s CNP work makes him the chief power player for the movement.

Stephen Broden

Broden leads a ministry called Content of Character and ran for congress in Texas, failing. One of his major causes has been attacks on abortion. Right Wing Watch has multiple articles on Broden that spotlight his anti-LGBTQIA+ stances. One example is his participation in a 2019 anti-gay rally on the steps of the Supreme Court.

Broden denounced “sodomites” and read from conservative justices’ dissents from the marriage equality ruling, and he called for state officials to “nullify” — refuse to abide by — what he called the “illegal” Obergefell ruling.

He also stated, “My kids are being threatened with homosexuality, gender fluidity, transgenderism and abortion on demand.”

2011 had Broden working alongside Rick Perry and Tea Party folks. “We have a constitutional remedy. And the Framers say if that don’t work, revolution.”

Broden signals an attempt to reach Black conservatives and former Tea Party participants. He also participates in Salt and Light Ministries, which will be at the event in CDA.

Dran Reese

A member of CNP, Reese runs an organization called Salt and Light Ministries. Salt and Light claims their mission is to, “defend and promote life, natural marriage, our constitutional and religious liberties.” Note the “natural marriage” rhetoric. GLAAD profiled Reese and shared some of her vitriol.

Homosexuals have no good, quality intentions with children but to indoctrinate them into a perverted, sexual lifestyle.

This is not liberation, this is just unhealthy perversion.

Salt and Light promotes deep Christian Nationalist views, like the examination of society shown here.

Graphic shows two stools. 1 is balanced society of large church and family, with a smaller gov’t. 2nd stool is “mission field” and is toppled due to large gov’t
https://saltandlightcouncil.org/our-mission

The Salt and Light process for changing America echoes the message of CNP and Christian Nationalists around the nation. We do not doubt this material will be central to the messages in Coeur D’Alene. Compare their plan to save America to Jason Stanley’s How Fascism Works, it is eye-opening.

Alex Newman

The journalist of the bunch, Newman writes for the Epoch Times and various right-wing outlets. His bio features a testimonial from Matt Shea, a Washington-based pastor who was expelled from the state legislature for his ties to domestic terror.

“He is really renowned as one of the best investigative journalists in America.”
Rep. Matt Shea

CNP and event director, Paul Blair stated,

“Alex is one of the most entertaining and knowledgeable people you will ever hear–not just at our conferences, but ever.”

Newman’s far-right resume is tied to the John Birch Society, and he has been promoted by Alex Jones on InfoWars. His views are anti-LGBTQIA+ and abhorrent. Right Wing Watch documented the following:

“On a recent episode of his “Pray In Jesus Name” program, religious right activist and former Colorado state legislator Gordon Klingenschmitt and his guest, right-wing journalist Alex Newman, agreed that teaching students about LGBTQ history should be illegal.”

“Alex Newman, a far-right journalist and educator, appeared on Alex Jones’ show “InfoWars” last week to speak about his new book, “Crimes of the Educators.” According to Newman, “every tyrant in all of history has understood that to control and to enslave a nation you need to control the education system.” In the United States, he said, “John Dewey was the key figure” in laying the groundwork for tyranny.”

We do not know Newman’s topic for the BRR Boot Camp, but he has often spoken about education and is a proponent of homeschooling. Right Wing Watch documented this in 2015 in a piece about Newman’s appearance on InfoWars.

Newman told Jones that the public school system is “mass-producing illiterates and collectivists” because “if you don’t have a dumbed down population, if you don’t have a population that’s sufficiently indoctrinated in this process, it’ll never fly.” That is why, Newman claimed, public education “is really at the heart of this globalist effort, really, just to be blunt about it, to enslave the world.”

Newman continued by telling a hopeful story about when he “went to the Global Home Education Conference in Berlin in 2012 and there was a lot of Russians there. And they told me that homeschooling is totally free and wide open in Russia and that was amazing for me.”

While Newman claimed he “wouldn’t trust [Russian President Vladimir] Putin as far as [he] could throw him,” he agreed with Jones’ opinion of Putin that “you got to judge a tree by its fruits, and he’s promoting homeschool. He’s promoting masculine men and ‘men should be tough’ and, like, John Wayne. It’s the opposite of us, you know. It’s ‘men are good role models’ and ‘fathers are good.”

We think author Kristin Kobes-Dumez will be interested in the John Wayne reference. Also, notice the praise of Putin as a role-model for a tough tyranny that brings about Christian values.

Again, Conservatives For National Policy, Liberty Counsel, and huge players in the chess game for Christian Nationalism are coming to Idaho to recruit pastors. The event has been underwritten by unknown groups to make it as accessible as possible. Researchers, academics, and on-the-ground activists need to be aware and put their eyes on CDA. The front lines have shifted to the PNW and they are gathering reinforcements.

All eyes on CDA and the Black Robes.

Action Items:

  1. Contact The Resort at (855) 703–4648 and demand they cancel their support of this event.

Here is a script if you need one for the call:

We demand that the Coeur D’Alene Golf Club and Resort reverse its decision to host the Black Robe Regiment from October 16–19. This group is not only tied to violent right-wing militias but also encourages vicious anti-LGBTQ+ attacks and ideology. One of their key speakers, Mat Staver, leads a group that played a role in the misogynist reversal of Roe v. Wade. No morally principled organization should host or collaborate with the Black Robe Regiment. Reject their business. Hate should have no place in Coeur D’Alene.

2. Follow journalists and researchers focused on this movement and region:

(1) For more info on the “American Redoubt”, recommend these: “Far-right survivalist and icon of ‘Patriot’ movement predicts religious civil war (SPLC)”, “Extremists finding fertile ground in Northwest (Monroe News)”.

(2) Link to Dan Fisher’s webpage, content warning.

(3) Thomas Lecaque and. JL Tomlin in Washington Post, 2021.

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