The Phineas Priesthood or Phineas Priests (also spelled Phinehas) are American domestic terrorists who follow the ideology set forth in the 1990 book, Vigilantes of Christendom: The Story of the Phineas Priesthood by Richard Kelly Hoskins.
Ideology and activity
The ideology set forth in Hoskins' book includes Christian Identity beliefs which oppose interracial relationships, the mixing of races, homosexuality, and abortion. It is also marked by anti-Semitism, and anti-multiculturalism.
According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), "Many people mistakenly believe that there is an actual organization called the Phineas Priesthood, probably because there was a group of four men in the 1990s who called themselves Phineas Priests. The men carried out bank robberies and a series of bombings in the Pacific Northwest before being sent to prison. But there is no evidence that their organization was any larger than those four individuals."
The Phineas Priesthood is not considered an organization because it is not led by a governing body, its members do not hold gatherings, and it does not have a membership process. One simply becomes a Phineas Priest by adopting the Priesthood's beliefs and acting upon them. Adherents of the Phineas Priesthood ideology are considered terrorists because among other things, their crimes include numerous abortion clinic bombings in 1996, the 1996 bombing of The Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, bank robberies, and plans to blow up FBI buildings. Four members of this organization were convicted of crimes including bank robbery and bombing, with each sentenced in 1997 and 1998 to life in prison.
On November 28, 2014, 49-year-old Larry Steven McQuilliams fired more than 100 rounds at a federal courthouse, a Mexican consulate building (which he also tried to set on fire), and a police station in Austin, Texas; he was shot in the heart by a police officer firing from some 300 feet away. A copy of Hoskins' book was found in McQuilliams' home.
The Phineas Priesthood is named for the Israelite Phinehas, grandson of Aaron (Numbers 25:7). According to Numbers 25, Phineas personally executed Zimri, an Israelite man, and a Midianite woman while they were together in the man's tent, running a spear through the two and ending a plague sent by God to punish the Israelites for intermingling sexually and religiously with the Midianite Baal-worshipers. Phineas is commended for having stopped Israel's fall to idolatrous practices brought in by Midianite women, as well as for stopping the desecration of God's sanctuary. Yahweh commends Phineas through Moses as zealous, gives him a "covenant of peace," and grants him and "his seed" an everlasting priesthood. This passage was cited in Hoskins' book as a justification for using violent means against interracial relationships and other forms of alleged immorality.
- Byron De La Beckwith, the assassin of NAACP and civil rights leader Medgar Evers who became a Phineas Priest
- Larry Gene Ashbrook, a mass murderer who allegedly was a self-professed Phineas Priest
- List of white nationalist organizations
- "Extremism in America: Richard Kelly Hoskins". Anti-Defamation League. 2005. Retrieved November 28, 2015.
- "Phineas Priests Arrested in Spokane Robberies". MHRN. Montana Human Rights Network. 1996. Archived from the original on March 13, 2011. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
- Morlin, Bill (November 1, 1997). "Sentencing Delayed For Valley Bomber, But No Third Trial Charles H. Barbee Faces Mandatory Life Imprisonment". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
- Tolbert, Patrick; Sadeghi, Chris (December 1, 2014). "Chief on Austin gunman: 'Hate was in his heart'". KXAN. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
- Ohlheiser, Abby; Izadi, Elahe (December 1, 2014). "Police: Austin shooter was a 'homegrown American extremist'". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 6, 2016.