Michael Bray (Army of God)

Michael Bray, Defensive Action Movement
Michael Bray, Army of God. Wikipedia

Full Name:

Michael Donald Bray

Claim to Notoriety:

Vocal and violent activist on behalf of a theocratic United States. Convicted of string of bombings against women's health care clinics providing abortion in the mid-1980s. Author of A Time to Kill , a book offering religious justification for the murder of abortion providers.

Notable Attacks:

Bray preaches that abortion clinics "should be put out of the business of butchering babies" (as he put it, in 1994), but he also practices.

In 1985, Bray was charged with conspiracy, following a series of clinic bombings. The Maryland Metropolitan Medical Women's Center, a Planned Parenthood office and also the Washington Office of the American Civil Liberties Union were bombed. At the time, responsibility was claimed by an anonymous caller to the Washington Times on behalf of "The Army of God, East Coast division," a loosely knit collection of Christian militants.

Justifications for Violence:

Bray justified violence against abortion providers by braiding together several strands of Christian thought, and manipulating them to fit his belief that the United States was a totalitarian regime. These included the beliefs of two theologians who made the case—in the face of Hitler's Nazi state—that Christians' violence may sometimes be justified. Bray applied these thoughts, which originated with Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Reinhold Neibuhr, to the United States under the 1990s Clinton Administration, which he saw as totalitarian in its grip on individual freedom, and dangerously secular.

Bray also borrowed from Christian reconstructionist theology, an extremist subset of the already extreme Christian dominion theology. Reconstructionist Christians reject the separation of church and state, and believe that Christians' world domination is God's intention.

Bray's Upbringing:

Bray spoke with religious extremism scholar, Mark Juergensmeyer, in 1996.

In the conversation, Bray described his Christian upbringing, and how a high school date with celebrity Kathy Lee began his journey toward evangelism:

Mike Bray had always been active, he told me,(said Juergensmeyer) having been raised in a family focused on sports, church activities, and military life. His father was a naval officer who served at nearby Annapolis, and Mike grew up expecting to follow in his father's military footsteps. An athletic hero in high school, he took the most popular girl in class to the senior prom. Her name was Kathy Lee, and later she became an actress and a nationally televised talk show host, receiving top billing on her own daytime show with Regis Phlbin. Mike's own career was marked by less obvious attributes of success.
He attended Annapolis for a year and then dropped out, living what he described as a "prodigal" life. He searched for reli gion as a solution to his malaise and was for a time tempted by the Mormons, but then the mother of his old girlfriend, Kathy Lee, steered him toward Billy Graham and the bornagain experience of evangelical Christianity. Mike was converted and went to Colorado to study in a Baptist Bible college and seminary. (Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 558, Americans and Religions in the Twenty-First Century. (Jul., 1998), pp. 88-100.)

Bray returned to his hometown to become the assistant pastor of a Lutheran church. A dispute led to a split, and Bray formed an independent church. About ten families followed him. Over time he became consumed with the vision of America as a Nazi-like state which holds human life and liberty in complete disregard.

Current Whereabouts:

Bray spent 1985 – 1989 in prison for his destruction of the abortion clinics. He is reportedly living in Wilmington, Ohio since 2003 with his wife and some of his eleven children.