Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. James Petersen

Second Advisor

Dr. Gerald Markle

Third Advisor

Dr. Paula Brush

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The primary goal of this thesis is to explicate the system of beliefs underlying the militia movement in order to better understand how their particular ideology helps them make sense of the complexities and contradictions in the world in which we live. By delineating and analyzing their ideology, I demonstrate how it is rooted in the Constitution and the Bible, as well as how that rootedness can alternately support and work against their system of beliefs. I then examine the ideology of the mainstream American Dream to understand how militia ideology works in tandem with some of the principal tenets of that Dream.

The study of this radical group offers an important opportunity for examining the ways people in our society attempt to deal with the contradictions they experience. It is a study of the ways in which people act and counteract with contradictions as a process of sense-making. Through this examination of the everyday world of militia members, this thesis brings forth a window through which we might begin to understand the sentiments that have motivated militia members to hold on so tightly to their guns, their Christianity, and their democratic ideal.

Included in

Sociology Commons