The Year of Obedience
or The Shelter Cycle of Church Universal and Triumphant and The Last Days of Montessori International
The Weapons of the CUT
During the Shelter Cycle, members of the CUT stockpiled a considerable amount of weaponry. The weapons were intended to combat the threats that they imagined they would have to face after a nuclear war.
Edward Francis & Vernon Hamilton were arrested on federal weapons charges in early 1989. Vernon Hamilton had been given around $150,000 which had been obtained from other Church members. Vernon used the money to purchase Barret 50 caliber sniper rifles & Steyr sniper rifles. The rifles were legal to purchase and own. What made it a federal crime was that Edward & Vernon conspired to steal the identity of a dead man (Malcom Pace) in order to purchase the weapons under a false name.
Vernon had a large number of documents in his possession when he was arrested. The documents were made public as a result of a FOIA request subsequent to the 1993 lawsuit between the CUT & the IRS regarding the Church's tax exempt status. The PDFs below are all copies of documents that Vernon had in his possession at the time of his arrest.
The documents show images of the types of weapons that church members had acquired. These are not pictures of the actual weapons; they are different items, same model. Vernon purchased 7 of the Barret 50 caliber rifles. Vernon researched and made inquiries regarding the purchase of Armored Personnell Carriers (APC's). Vernon didn't actually buy any APC's but another church member, Paul Haugen, did. Paul bought 2 Saracen FV-603 APC's.
Following are documents showing images of Barret 50 Caliber sniper rifles, the same make as those bought by Vernon Hamilton.
- Barret Full View
- Barret Detail View
- Barret Instruction Manual Cover Page
- Barret Instruction Manual Table of Contents
- Barret Instruction Manual: Prone Firing Position Illustration
- Barret Instruction Manual: Rifle Decomposition Illustration
Following are copies of letters from various weapons dealers to Vernon Hamilton in response to his inquiries regarding the purchase of APC's. Note that they are addressed to Malcom Pace which is the false name Vernon was using for his weapons purchases.
- Response letter from Jersey Ordnance to Vernon Hamilton
- Response letter from Tanks-a-Lot to Vernon Hamilton
Following are images of Saracen FV-603 Armored Personell Carriers. The images are from various sources: dealer photos, weapons catalogs & reference books. Note that while these are a good representation of the type of vehicle, they are not photos of exactly the same vehicles that Paul Haugen purchased. Neither of the APC's that Paul purchased included working firearms installed in the turret. One APC had an empty turret. The other APC had a dummy gun intended to make the vehicle look the part for collectors.
- Saracen APC from Budge
- Saracen APC: Specifications, Performance & Armament
- Photo of a Saracen APC: side view (note: the Saracen is the one on top)
- Enlarged Photo of a Saracen APC (note: detail image from the pdf above)
- Photo of a Saracen APC: rear angle view
The involvement of the CUT with weapons was nothing new. Church members were involved in secretive projects to stockpile weapons as early as 1973. The gun purchases were made through a front company called the Rocky Mountain Sportsman and Survival Club. The club members purchased a small arsenal of assault rifles and ammunition. It was this arsenal that was later loaded into the main CUT bomb shelters for defense of the church after the prophesied doomsday.
Edward Francis provided Vernon Hamilton with background documentation on the first projects. Some of this documentation fell into the hands of the police after Vernon's arrest. Included in these documents was a memo from Martin Lassiter to the Cabinet of the Church. (The Cabinet was an early organization structure that was later replaced by the Board of Directors). The memo contains an itemized inventory of guns (primarily assault rifles), ammunition, reloading supplies and accessories. It also contains an accounting of the cost of the arsenal with line-item detail. These guns were eventually disposed of after two decades as part of the settlement of the lawsuit between the CUT and the IRS.
Below are reproductions of this memo in PDF format. The quality is not good. The PDFs were produced by a scan of a xerox copy of a xerox copy of a 16 year old tissue paper carbon copy of an original document. Some degradation was unavoidable. We have also transcribed this memo for easier reading. We have made an effort to provide an exact transcription including spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and typos.