A highly decorated Vietnam Veteran and the supposed inspiration for Sylvester Stallone's character in the original Rambo movie "First Blood," Bo Gritz has dedicated himself for decades to denouncing the "New World Order" and training an army of anointed "Eternal Warriors" to battle against the evil that resides in "high places." Gritz has warned repeatedly of coming hard times, intermittently bashed Jews and "faggots," and, most recently, adopted the virulently anti-Semitic Christian Identity theology.
In His Own Words
"I can assure you that if I was ever convinced that it was God's Will for me to commit an act of violence against the laws of our land, I would hesitate only long enough to, like Gideon, be certain. I would then do all within my power to accomplish what I felt he required of me. … If God does call me into the Phineas Priesthood … my defense will be the truth as inspired by the messiah."
— 2000 Fellowship of Eternal Warriors recruitment letter
"Jews, feminists, sodomites and other liberal activists may install Gore over an apathetic moral majority. … Runaway abortion, anti-Christ/God and globalism are certain."
— 2000 bulletin issued during the presidential race
"Do you see the sign, the scent, stain and mark of the beast on America today? ... Are you willing to submit and join this seedline of Satan? … Look to those who are openly antichrist… . [W]ho in the world is promoting abortion, pornography, pedophilia, Godless laws, adultery, New Age international banking, entertainment industry and world publishing? Wherever you find perversion of God's laws you will find the worshippers of Baal with their roots still in Babylonian mysticism."
— 1998 bulletin to supporters
James "Bo" Gritz's 1991 autobiography, Called to Serve, is dedicated to his then-wife Claudia and to his "mistress," the Special Forces. And indeed, even after leaving Vietnam, the highly decorated officer and former Green Beret couldn't seem to give up his passion for covert operations, conducting his own commando-style missions into Southeast Asia in the 1980s to search for POWs who had allegedly been left behind by the retreating American forces. No POWs ever materialized, but Gritz (rhymes with "fights") made a name for himself, obtaining the support of individuals such as millionaire H. Ross Perot and even managing to get called to testify before a congressional hearing.
Gritz' military demeanor and his far-fetched claims made him friends among the conspiracy-minded right, including Willis Carto, founder of the Holocaust-denial organization Institute for Historical Review and the now defunct Liberty Lobby, who encouraged him to run as the vice presidential candidate on the Populist Party ticket in 1988. While Gritz dropped out of the campaign shortly after learning that his running mate was to be former Klansman David Duke, he ran again on the same ticket in 1992, this time for the presidential slot, garnering 0.1% of the vote with his "God, Guns and Gritz" platform, which opposed everything from the federal income tax to the "New World Order."
The same year he ran for president, Gritz won national publicity for his role in the 1992 standoff in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, between white supremacist Randy Weaver, who was wanted on gun charges, and federal agents. A U.S. marshal and Weaver's wife and young son were killed during the hostilities, but Gritz, after convincing authorities to let him approach the Weaver cabin to negotiate, managed to talk Weaver and his companions into surrendering, ending the 11-day confrontation. Gritz briefly became a hero to those who had supported Weaver.
After gaining acclaim at Ruby Ridge, Gritz attempted several other similar "interventions," over the course of the 1990s, including a failed 1996 mission to negotiate with the antigovernment Montana Freemen, then engaged in their own 80-day standoff with federal agents, and a fruitless 1998 foray into the Smoky Mountains in search of elusive abortion-clinic bomber Eric Rudolph.
During the same period, Gritz also devoted himself to getting the word out about pernicious federal activities and God's call to citizen action. Through his Sandy Valley, Nev.-based Center For Action, Gritz pontificated on the dangers of "faggots," feminists and the omnipresent Jew. He also vigorously hawked his S.P.I.K.E ("Specially Prepared Individuals for Key Events") training, a program developed by Gritz that offered his Special Forces skills to paying participants, leaving them trained in the art of war and ready to spring into action in case of emergency. Along with the on-site training, Gritz offered a dozen "do-it-yourself" videos at $72 each. As the specter of "Y2K" loomed large for the skittish far right (many of whose denizens thought computers would crash worldwide on Jan, 1, 2000), Gritz also developed a line of preparedness products that he marketed to the fearful. Gritz' offerings included a pre-packaged one-year supply of food, wilderness tools and important reading for dark times: the U.S. Constitution and The New World Order, a book by anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist Eustace Mullins.
Beginning in 1994, Gritz launched a new project, one that underlined his trademark combination of antigovernment paranoia, apocalyptic survivalism, military obsession and militant Christianity. Near Kamiah, Idaho, the militiaman founded "Almost Heaven," billed as "the ark in the time of Noah" for those fortunate enough to purchase a lot of land at the secluded community — a place, Gritz said, specially selected to survive all manner of calamity. Along with former Arizona State Sen. Jerry Gillespie and Jack McLamb of Police Against the New World Order, Gritz attempted to bring together a group of Christians who would join to weather hard times. But Almost Heaven was plagued by controversy from the start, with Gritz' antagonizing Kamiah residents by calling public officials "faggots" and getting himself into trouble for creating an illegal common law trust to manage property sales. On top of this, Gritz became embroiled in a feud with a group of community members calling themselves the Freemen Patriots who accused the Almost Heaven founder of not going far enough in his antigovernment activity.
Things fell apart entirely in 1998. Already involved in a legal battle over his alleged attempt to kidnap the children of a woman who had appealed to him for help in a custody dispute, Gritz' was also shaken by the departure of Jerry Gillespie, who was accused of squandering over $1 million in land sales funds. Then, to top it all off, Gritz's wife of 24 years left him, sending him into a black despair, as he told the Intelligence Report in a remarkably candid interview just three days before attempting suicide. Discovered in September 1998 with a self-inflicted bullet wound to the chest, Gritz survived, but left Almost Heaven and moved to Nevada.
Just a year later, in 1999, Gritz met and married Judy Kirsch and, through her, accepted a relatively mild version of Christian Identity, a theology that describes Jews as cursed by God or, in its most extreme forms, biologically descended from Satan. Since then, his Center for Action has adopted a greater spiritual emphasis, with Gritz lengthening its name to read Center for Action—Fellowship of Eternal Warriors and naming a group of "warriors" anointed to lead the fight against a satanic world order. His embrace of Christian Identity has served to emphasize Gritz' long-time flirtation with the overt anti-Semitism often expressed by Identity adherents. While Gritz vehemently denies charges of racism, he has long rubbed shoulders with individuals such as Richard Flowers of the Christian Patriot Alliance, a group that claims that whites are God's real chosen people.
Bo Gritz stopped offering his S.P.I.K.E trainings in 2002, creating a DVD of the program for those interested. Since then, he's published a new book, My Brother's Keeper, which, in his own words, details "his personal involvements in saving oppressed Americans." The cover includes a quote from Ephesians 6:12: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood … but against spiritual wickedness in high places."