Standing onstage with a large American flag draped behind him, state Rep. Matt Shea spoke candidly to a small congregation of supporters in northeast Washington.
It was early July 2013, and Shea’s message was clear: Prepare for conflict. The federal government is coming to get you.
“Arm yourselves. Arm your families. Arm the church,” he said, according to video footage that surfaced this week.
“Godlessness is violence,” he said. “We’ve got to prepare ourselves mentally. And part of that, too, is we’ve got to realize that every generation – blood is required of every generation. In some way, shape or form, blood is required of every generation.”
Shea delivered the speech at the annual God and Country Celebration in Marble, a small religious community in northeast Stevens County, some 80 miles outside the district he represents in the Legislature.
The gathering took place before Shea got involved in armed standoffs against federal agents in Nevada and Oregon, and before a House-commissioned investigation labeled him a domestic terrorist, prompting Republican leaders to expel him from their caucus.
Shea has insisted the investigation was a “sham” and a “Marxist smear tactic,” though he declined to meet with the investigators. Democrats lost hope of removing Shea from the Legislature last week when a letter circulated among lawmakers received no GOP signatures.
After receiving a standing applause in Marble in 2013, Shea spoke for nearly an hour about government, politics, warfare and Christianity, urging church members to stockpile food, supplies and ammunition in preparation for a disaster. He warned of a civil war between “patriots” at home and “loyalists” from Washington, D.C.
“Your household, you should have 5,000 rounds of .223 ammunition,” Shea told his audience. “You should have 5,000 rounds of .22 ammunition. You should have 1,000 rounds of handgun ammunition. That is how you arm your family.”
Shea also said churches should not shy away from politics.
“Being a coward is not being a Christian,” he said.
Anne and Barry Byrd formed the Marble church after leaving another Stevens County congregation, The Ark, which belonged to the explicitly racist, anti-Semitic Christian Identity movement. Stevens County Commissioner Steve Parker is a member of the Marble church. Idaho state Rep. Heather Scott and former Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, who is now the mayor pro tempore of Las Vegas, have spent time in Marble with Shea.
The church recorded much of the 2013 gathering and compiled the footage on a DVD, complete with a navigation menu featuring animated Fourth of July fireworks. The video was not shared publicly until this week.
One copy of the disc turned up in a secondhand store in Colville. It was passed along to a former Stevens County resident, Terry Sayles, who this week posted clips of Shea’s speech online and shared the entire speech with The Spokesman-Review.
Sayles, who lives in Arizona, was an elementary school teacher for 24 years in Northport, just north of Marble. He has long documented far-right activity in the area, citing concern about its influence on politics.
“Basically, I still think of that area as home,” he said in a phone call Tuesday.
The video confirms much of what is already known about Shea’s ideology. Leaked audio from Marble’s 2018 God and Country Celebration, first reported by the Guardian, revealed that Shea and radio host Jack Robertson spoke of a looming civil war, with Shea asserting that “liberty must be kept by force.”
“When do we go on the offense? It’s a very kind of odd question for Christians. And the answer is pretty simple: when God says it’s time to fight,” Shea said. “But if you are called to fight, there are four things we need to keep in mind. … We need to have a holy cause, we need to have a holy camp, we need to have a holy leader and we need to have a holy army.”
Shea said men should train their families to shoot firearms and operate as small combat units, and that families should be strictly patriarchal.
“Husbands, take back control of your household. … It is your job,” he said. “Now, that might be offensive to some folks sitting out there right now. But you know what, that’s what the Bible says is supposed to happen, and it starts with us.”
Men, Shea said, must be physically fit. He suggested hiking with a heavy pack to lose weight. The war, he said, will pit “patriots” and “loyalists” against each other, and no man should make excuses about a sore knee or a stiff back.
“The loyalists don’t care that you hurt. The people that sit in rooms in Washington, D.C., plotting your destruction, do not care if you hurt,” Shea said. “So men, together, we need to get in shape.”
In addition to stockpiling ammunition, Shea said families must keep large quantities of food and supplies. Among other specific recommendations, he listed 300 pounds of wheat, 50 pounds of powdered milk, a year’s worth of produce and hygiene products, and 250 pounds of salt – noniodized, for preserving meat.
“When your husband goes out to buy that stuff, wives, support your husband,” he said. “And yes, I’m being very specific and detailed for a reason, because this is a minimum standard – a minimum standard.”