Sovereign Citizens and Right-Wing Christian Wingnuts on Parade

I just cut this from an article I’m writing about Sovereign Citizens–people like Cliven Bundy and Terry Nichols (Oklahoma City Bombing planner) –cut for length and because I had to retool the theme of the piece but I think this is pretty damn interesting stuff, relating to these wingnut fringe groups:

The Sovereigns base their societal fantasy on a misreading of the Posse Comitatus Act and the 14th and 16th amendments to the Constitution; they claim that the 14th amendment relating to citizenship was “never properly ratified” and the 16th relating to taxation wasn’t ratified properly and didn’t specify power to collect taxes. Their fuzzy logic allows them to conclude they need not submit to any law except the murkily defined “common law” local to their area. Apart from whatever common law they agree to, they are, they claim, Sovereign unto themselves, and not U.S. citizens at all. All such claims have been tossed out with precedent finality in federal court.

Another sovereign citizen argument that hints at the underpinnings of the Sovereign mindset, states that the U.S. government keeps a secret account bearing, say, $1 million for every child born in the U.S. This “redemptionist” argument, fostered by white supremacist con artist Roger Elvick, insists that when the US government chucked the gold standard in 1933 it pledged its citizens as collateral for the gold. Scammers like Elvick use seminars and videos explain how you can get the million bucks you’re worth… Redemptionism, like sovereign citizen status, invariably fails in court.

In a Portland, Oregon redemptionist/sovereign citizen case, Miles Joseph Julison repeatedly intoned in court: “I, Miles Joseph, a bond servant of Jesus Christ, can only take an oath to Jesus Christ, as he has bought and paid for me by the blood of the lamb. And anything else, any other oath, would violate the religious dictates of my conscience. And I continue to reserve all of my rights without prejudice.”

There we see the persistent Sovereign linkage to fringe Christian fundamentalism and magical thinking. Julison kept insisting he is only subject to “the blood of the lamb”; to him there was no law without the admixture of the supernatural.

This kind of magical thinking is extended, with or without obvious religion, to all sovereign citizen thinking. If at one point the USA created the Federal Reserve, believers in redemptionism and sovereign citizenry are easily persuaded to believe that the USA legally converted the legal personhood of Americans into collateral for bonds. Despite much verbiage, no real evidence is given for this belief. It is an assumption prompted by the deep-seated need to believe–a kind of leap of “faith” in a fictional American history.

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