Army of God (United States)

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Army of God
Army of God spokesman, Donald Spitz, holds Army of God banner
Abbreviation A.O.G.
Type Christian terrorist organization (anti-abortion violence)

Army of God (AOG) is a Christian terrorist anti-abortion organization that has engaged in the use of violence in the United States to fight against abortion.[1] According to the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security's joint Terrorism Knowledge Base, the Army of God is an underground terrorist organization active in the United States formed in 1982. In addition to numerous property crimes, the group has committed acts of kidnapping, attempted murder, and murder. While sharing a common ideology and tactics, members claim to rarely communicate;[2] the organization forbids those who wish to "take action against baby killing abortionists" from discussing their plans with anyone in advance.[3]


The earliest documented incidence of the Army of God being involved with anti-abortion activity occurred in 1982. Three men stating that they were the "army of god"[4][5] kidnapped Hector Zevallos, a doctor who performed abortions, and his wife, Rosalee Jean, and held them hostage. The hostages were later released unharmed after eight days.[6][7] The "East Coast division" of the AOG claimed responsibility when three men, including Michael Bray, planted bombs at seven abortion clinics in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. in 1985.[8]

In 1993, Shelly Shannon, a very active member of the Army of God, was found guilty of the attempted murder of Dr. George Tiller.[9] That same year, law enforcement officials found the Army of God Manual, a tactical guide to arson, chemical attacks, invasions, and bombings buried in Shelly Shannon's backyard.[6] Paul Jennings Hill was found guilty of the murder of both Dr. John Britton and clinic escort James Barrett. The AOG claimed responsibility for Eric Robert Rudolph's 1997 nail bombing of abortion clinics in Atlanta and Birmingham as well as an Atlanta lesbian bar.[10]

Clayton Waagner, claiming to act on the part of the "Virginia Dare Chapter" of the AOG, mailed over 500 letters containing white powder to 280 abortion providers in 2001. The letters claimed that the powder was anthrax; though it was not identified as such, the tactic took advantage of the public's fear of biological warfare after the recent real anthrax attacks.[11][12]

The group is also associated with a number of abortion clinic bombings, arsons and murders of abortion providers.[13] Some of those responsible claimed association with the AOG; in other cases, while the killers expressed no affiliation with the group, the AOG has endorsed their acts and taken up their cause.[14]

Defensive Action Statement

The AOG supports the Second Defensive Action Statement, as produced by the Defenders of the Defenders of Life, which reads:[15]

  • We the undersigned, declare the justice of taking all Godly action necessary, including the use of force, to defend innocent human life (born and unborn). We proclaim that whatever force is legitimate to defend the life of a born child is legitimate to defend the life of an unborn child.
  • We declare and affirm that if in fact Paul Hill did kill or wound abortionist John Britton, and accomplices James Barrett and Mrs. Barrett, his actions are morally justified if they were necessary for the purpose of defending innocent human life. Under these conditions, Paul Hill should be acquitted of all charges against him.

Hill was head of a precursor organization called Defensive Action, which issued signed statements to members of Congress in the early 1990s expressing similar sentiments about "killing the killers".


The AOG movement, along with select followers, are featured in the HBO documentary film Soldiers in the Army of God (2000), directed by Marc Levin and Daphne Pinkerson, as part of HBO's America Undercover series.[16]

Associated individuals

A 2011 NPR report claimed that an associate of this group, Stephen John Jordi, was imprisoned in a highly restrictive Communication Management Unit.[19]

See also


  1. "Terrorist Organization Profile: Army of God". National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. Retrieved October 5, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Terrorist Organization Profile:Army of God". Terrorism Knowledge Base. 2004–2008. Retrieved 24 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Jefferis, Jennifer (2011). Armed for Life: The Army of God and Anti-Abortion Terror in the United States. ABC-CLIO. Unknown parameter |city= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Jefferis, Jennifer (2011). army%20of%20God&f=false Armed for Life: The Army of God and Anti-Abortion Terror in the United State. Praeger. p. 23. ISBN 978-0313387531. Retrieved 9 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "ABORTION OPPOSITION STRESSED IN KIDNAPPING TRIAL IN ILLINOIS". The New York Times. 26 January 1983. Retrieved 9 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 Baird-Windle, Patricia & Bader, Eleanor J., (2001), Targets of Hatred: Anti-Abortion Terrorism, New York, St. Martin's Press, ISBN 978-0-312-23925-1
  7. Kessler, Ronald (1993). The FBI. Pocket Books. p. 279-280. ISBN 9781476746623. Retrieved 8 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "3 Men Charged in Bombings Of Seven Abortion Facilities". The New York Times. January 20, 1985.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Warner, Bill (May 31, 2009). "Bill Warner Private Investigator Sarasota Fl to Panama City, Male & Female Detectives Dr. George Tiller Murdered by Army of God (AOG) Member, Shooting Suspect Scott P. Roeder Identified By Sheriff, AOG Alive And Well in Wichita Kansas. Bill Warner Private Investigator". Retrieved November 22, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Army of God letters claim responsibility for clinic bombing". CNN. February 2, 1998. Retrieved October 3, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Analysis: Anthrax threat from within". BBC News. November 7, 2001. Retrieved August 2, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "'Army Of God' Anthrax Threats". CBS News. November 9, 2001. Retrieved August 2, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. :25-26,38
  14. "THE SECOND DEFENSIVE ACTION STATEMENT". Army of God. Retrieved 9 May 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "The Second Defensive Action Statement". Retrieved 2007-05-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Soldiers in the Army of God (2000)". New York Times. Retrieved 8 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Kopp known as a radical". The Hamilton Spectator. November 5, 1998. p. A1. It was in Atlanta that Kopp got his nickname "Atomic Dog," which was later featured in the acknowledgments of a manual showing anti-abortionists how to build bombs, make explosives and cut off the thumbs of abortion doctors. The manual was circulated by a loose association of extremists who called themselves the Army of God.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Jim Redden (October 30, 2009). "FBI probes alleged threat to officer". Portland Tribune. Archived from the original on 2013-04-19. Retrieved 2011-06-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. DATA & GRAPHICS: Population Of The Communications Management Units, Margot Williams and Alyson Hurt, NPR, 3-3-11, retrieved 2011 06 02 from (See page 3, default sort by 'Case')

External links