A document describing plans to establish a theocratic “redoubt” territory in the aftermath of a government collapse and civil war – purportedly written by state Rep. Matt Shea and based on a series of obscure novels – was made public on Tuesday.
The eight-page document, titled “Restoration,” details how Christian “patriots” should quash resistance, establish an interim government, decentralize services, restrict immigration based on ethnicity and amend the Constitution to “acknowledge that Jesus Christ rules over this state as our legitimate sovereign Lord and King from His place of authority at God’s right hand.” The document also calls for the death penalty for those who commit murder, rape, treason and “sodomy,” and calls for a discussion on whether adulterers should be executed, too.
The document was posted online Tuesday by Jay Pounder, a former member of Shea’s informal security detail who has leaked numerous messages and documents exposing the Spokane Valley lawmaker’s activities outside the Legislature, which have included discussions of violence and proposals to spy on perceived adversaries. Recently, local leaders including Spokane Mayor David Condon have joined calls for Shea to resign.
Pounder said Shea created the “Restoration” document and distributed it at an August 2016 gathering in Spokane Valley, along with a manifesto titled “Biblical Basis for War,” which condemns abortion and same-sex marriage and calls for the killing of those who violate “biblical law.”
It was Pounder who shared “Biblical Basis for War” with another former Shea associate, Tanner Rowe, who posted the document on Facebook a week before Shea’s re-election last year.
Shea, who rarely speaks to reporters, publicly took credit for “Biblical Basis for War,” insisting it was nothing more than sermon notes on war in the Old Testament. As of Wednesday, however, he had not publicly acknowledged the “Restoration” document. He did not respond to messages seeking comment.
The two documents are written in a similar bullet-point format. Pounder described them as companion documents – the first being instructions for the battlefield, the second being a manual for restoring order and establishing a new power structure.
Neither document explicitly refers to Shea’s push to create a 51st state called Liberty.
Caleb Collier, a former Spokane Valley city councilman and Shea supporter, said he didn’t know if Shea wrote “Restoration.”
The document, Collier said, appeared to be notes on a book series titled “299 Days,” about a man who leaves his government job to live in a remote cabin and prepare for a partial government collapse. The series was written by pseudonymous author Glen Tate, who claims to live in Olympia.
“I have no idea if Matt wrote those notes, regardless it’s a fictional story with some interesting ideas,” Collier wrote in an email.
Collier said the disclosure of the document was an unwarranted attack on Shea made “in the interest of self-glorification.”
Asked if Shea or others believe a civil war is imminent, Collier cautioned that he could only speak for himself.
“I love my country very much. I have served it for a number of years,” he wrote. “I hope to God that another civil war doesn’t occur. All I am advocating for is a return to the original intent of our country’s founding documents.”
The “Restoration” document, taken literally or as a piece of literary fandom, is consistent with many known elements of Shea’s ideology, including dominionism, the idea that Christians have a God-given right to govern.
“The worship of the Judeo/Christian God will be fostered and encouraged by government and elevated protection,” the document states. “Still a choice but atheism is not a religion.”
The document calls for limited taxes, the transfer of public lands to private homesteaders and the decentralization of government services such as education and health care. It also calls for the negotiation of a “final settlement with Indian tribes” and says tribes “would become part of the state.” That would be in line with a movement to abolish Native American treaty rights that Shea has embraced.
The document also includes some specific ideas that haven’t previously been attributed to Shea, such as prohibiting school teachers under the age of 30. On the topic of the death penalty, the document states: “Reinstitute Capital Punishment for Murder, Rape, Molestation, Bestiality, Kidnapping, Adultery (discuss), treason, and Sodomy.”
The document says immigration should be “limited to (a) strict number” and “conducted like refugee processing.”
“Immigration Team will see if strangers have skills or equipment and then will recommend to the community for acceptance,” the document states, later adding a demographic restriction: “All immigration allowed based on existing ethnic %.”
Shea often denies any affiliation with white supremacist movements, noting his friendship with a black member of the Marble religious community in northern Stevens County, a place Shea has been visiting for at least 10 years.
However, Shea routinely expresses animus against Muslims, spreading conspiracy theories about Muslims and “communists” seeking to establish anti-American “counter states” in the United States. And Barry Byrd, who leads the Marble community with his wife, Anne, was a foundational figure in the racist Christian Identity movement in the late 1980s.
Pounder said he recently shared the “Restoration” document with a team of private investigators that the House of Representatives hired to examine Shea’s activities. But he didn’t make the document public or share it with reporters until Tuesday.
“We’ve been kind of sitting on it going, ‘When’s the right time? When’s the right time for the public to ingest this?’ ” Pounder said.
It’s part of his strategy, he said, to paint a portrait of Shea through a slow drip of information over time. Pounder said he has leaked most of the messages and documents he collected during the few years he worked for Shea, but has so far chosen not to share some items. He said he believes the public will pay more attention that way.
“I want people to understand who they are, and what they want to accomplish, and what’s going on in the minds of Barry and Anne Byrd and Matt Shea and the other leaders,” Pounder said.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.