An organization in Missouri announced their training event that will teach Christians physical combat and “fighting from your vehicle.” The Missouri Embattled Warriors Event is similar to the military-style practices widespread in the 1990s throughout the US. The organization expressed its goal to “halt and push back the forces of darkness.”

“We’re a group of Christian men and women that go out and will stand against unrighteousness,” declared Kevin VanStory, head of the Salt and Light Brigade MAKO edition. “This will be an intensive study about self-defense. What happens if you were driving on I-70 last year when all those riots were taking place in Kansas City and St. Louis? It’s about time that Christians start going on the offense — at least stop being always on the defense.”

Many skeptics have expressed their concern over the true nature of the event’s motives. For decades, the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights has kept tabs on extremist religious groups. Devin Burghart, executive director of the Institute, shared his apprehension about the Christian organization.

“The group is trying to hide far-right paramilitary training behind a friendly facade,” Burghart spoke of the group. “Whatever the label, the group traffics in racist scaremongering to draw people into paramilitary activity. Whether or not they call it a militia, everyone should be concerned about a far-right paramilitary group like this coming to Missouri.”

VanStory countered the concerns by stating that the event is casually assembled, not a strict militia format, and nothing to be alarmed about. “We’ll be out in the country, and actually, most of the training is going to involve airsoft guns,” the Salt and Light Brigade leader explained. “I have no intention of ever using my gun on another human being unless I’m in absolute fear for my life.”

VanStory has had a very controversial past. In 2020, the group’s leader ran unsuccessfully for the US House in Missouri’s 7th Congressional District. His recent Facebook feed is primarily anti-vaccine posts. For instance, he referred to Dr. Anthony Fauci as a “Godless demon” in a post on his page. VanStory has also facilitated events in Joplin and Carthage this year to protest “forced tyrannical vaccinations.”

“One of the very first sentences in our Constitution is the right to pursue liberty,” Vanstory expressed. “But our liberties are getting taken away now at a pace that’s unfathomable. I am not crazy. I’m a God-fearing, USA-loving person. I never, ever in my life expected to be doing the things I’m doing now. We’ve had basically four decades of sissified or feminized pastors that have taken the man out of his rightful position as the leader of his family. I’m not saying I’m a man’s man, you know, I just want to protect my family.” The Salt and Light Brigade is a faction of a larger nonprofit headquartered in Hebron, Ohio.

The organizer of the Missouri Embattled Warriors has announced the event has been canceled, but the question that remains is, “Is physical combat right or wrong given God’s teachings?”

Although self-defense is a helpful practice to know for worst-case scenarios, the organization’s motives are questionable. Their strong stances on many controversial issues have a tone of anger, prejudice, and fear that contradict God’s Word.

The Bible tells us, “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9). God instructs us to respond to conflict with love and not physical violence.

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