The Phinehas Priesthood

Violent Vanguard of the Christian Identity Movement

by Danny W. Davis


James Kopp, killer of a New York abortion doctor, defended his action based on the same principles Western nations use to support the concept of just war—the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas. What happens when fervent religious conviction drives individuals to stand up against government and law, sure beyond any doubt that they are doing right?

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Cover image for The Phinehas Priesthood

October 2010


Pages 238
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Security Studies/Terrorism
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This book is centered on the words of leaderless resistors, men labeled as Phinehas Priests or Army of God Warriors who use force to oppose what they consider unrighteous government or ungodly laws.

Positioned on America's extreme right, they are guerrilla fighters; clandestine operators who work in small cells or individually against the government and specific laws, such as those that permit abortion. Their beliefs and actions are the subject of The Phinehas Priesthood: Violent Vanguard of the Christian Identity Movement. As the book reveals, individuals who follow the Phinehas model determine that there is a higher cause, a greater good that negates all or some portion of civil law. Based on that determination, they resist perceived evil, acknowledging only the leadership of their God.

The first part of this absorbing study examines organizational, resistance, and religious concepts and theories that drive these insurgents. The second part describes the beliefs, motivations, and actions of selected resistors, often using their own words to provide insights into the Christian Identity worldview and the extreme antiabortion movement. Individuals such as Walter E. Thody, Clayton Waagner, and James Kopp are quoted at length, offering firsthand perspective on the facts and events discussed.


  • Quoted material from letters between the author and men who have practiced Leaderless Resistance or Lone Wolf Strategy to oppose the government and/or abortion
  • Maps and figures, including a conceptual diagram of the Phinehas Priesthood
  • The doctrinal statements of Christian Identity churches
  • A matrix of biographical information on individuals convicted of crimes connected with the Phinehas Priesthood


  • Gathers and analyzes a multitude of documents that detail the concept of a Phinehas Priesthood and Christian identity, the theology from which the Priesthood theory developed
  • Uses the firsthand accounts of Leaderless Resistors, men labeled as Phinehas Priests or Army of God warriors, to tell their stories of resistance
  • Provides an analysis of two unconventional methods currently used by terrorists to organize and conduct domestic insurgency: Louis Beam's "Leaderless Resistance" and Tom Metzger's "Lone Wolf Strategy"
  • Relates the biblical story of Phinehas, the ancient Israelite who took righteous action to stop blatant disobedience to God's law during the Exodus and was rewarded by God with an everlasting priesthood for himself and his descendants
Series Description

Praeger Security International

As the world gets "smaller" through technology and globalization, the security risks we face grow and multiply.

International security in the 21st century is not a topic that can be adequately addressed in nightly news soundbites or online articles intended to be relevant for 24 hours or less. Comprehending these complex issues requires insight from foreign policy specialists, diplomats, military officials, peace scholars, historians, and security experts—participants and observers on all sides of each conflict. This series provides the tools for understanding security issues in our uncertain, unstable world.

Covering global hot spots from Iran to Venezuela and subjects ranging from terrorism and cyber warfare to food security, books in the Praeger Security International series give readers access to carefully considered and highly informed viewpoints on the critical security issues that threaten to destabilize our world. With titles authored by diplomats, academic researchers, journalists, military leaders and combatants, legal experts, psychologists, and other knowledgeable specialists, these books offer in-depth analysis and international perspectives that are unavailable in the mass media. These titles represent an invaluable resource for students, researchers, and policymakers as well as for anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of the complex issues that affect our lives and future.


  • Provides reliable, comprehensive information on all matters relating to security that is ideal for students, teachers, researchers, and professionals
  • Offers insightful commentaries written by a diverse group of scholars and experts who provide interdisciplinary treatments of newsworthy events and important historical occurrences
Author Info

Danny W. Davis is adjunct professor with the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, and was recently appointed as director of the Certificate Program in Homeland Security. Davis writes and teaches on issues of terrorism, homeland security, and the American Civil War.

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