BONNERS FERRY — New to Bonners Ferry, the Lordship Church is part of the American Redoubt, which boasts free church, supports homeschooling, patriotism, and the literal translation of biblical doctrine.
Pastor Warren Campbell, who leads the Lordship Church, grew up in a ‘prepper’ family lifestyle, where self reliance was important to them. Campbell and his wife moved to Idaho from California.
About what brought the family to Idaho, Campbell said, “I had traveled here previously and saw the beauty of it. The main reason we chose Idaho is because it is a more freedom loving and liberty oriented state. There are more constitutionally minded people in the state. Homeschooling is very easy here.”
Campbell felt compelled by God to become a pastor, saying, “He impresses the heart so you know He is calling you to do something.”
The family recently relocated to Bonners Ferry from Coeur d’Alene. In their wake, the church has left a trail of controversy.
“Kootenai County is trying to become more like California,” said Campbell about why he relocated north.
Several articles throughout the region call the congregation racist; others call it a hate group. Campbell has vehemently rebuked those allegations.
“He feels homosexuals should be arrested, he doesn’t believe slavery was nearly as ugly as our history claims it was, and he doesn’t believe the Holocaust was nearly as devastating human rights wise, as far as the amount of people that passed,” said Bonners Ferry resident Craig Kelson. “That is strange to me that everything that we have been taught, he is able to believe that it wasn’t what it was. In my opinion, I don’t think he has the same level of respect for those groups of people.”
Kelson has not attended services at the Lordship Church; he attends another local church. He plans to meet with Campbell in the future to ask questions and learn the other’s point of view.
One of Campbell’s views is that the Bible teaches homosexuality is a sin, as it is written in Romans 1:18-32. Campbell has released videos online of his teachings, and some people simply do not agree with how he approaches certain matters, including homosexuality and other topics.
Campbell said he’s far from alone in his Bible-based views.
“The vast majority of Christian denominations hold the same position that I hold,” he said, “that homosexuality, sodomy, is a sin, but it is not an unpardonable sin. It can be forgiven.”
The Bible references prostitution and how the people of God should respect the temple he built for them in the same way they respect the temple they built for him. Churches are cleaned and in good order for people to attend services and praise the Lord. The Bible describes how God created the people and the people’s bodies as viewed as temples. It goes on with how He expects His creations to respect them, keep them clean and in good order. That includes everything from eating habits to lifestyles, Campbell said.
“I am a street preacher. I am a pastor, so as a street preacher, they go into public places and proclaim the gospel,” Campbell said of the time he attended a Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) parade. “There were people that didn’t like the fact that we, myself and other street preachers, attended the homosexual parade. There we preach and call those folks to repentance.”
Campbell bristles at the fact that the Southern Poverty Law Center has listed his church as a hate group. He noted that its CEO, Richard Cohen, resigned in disgrace this spring.
“If you ask why am I on a hate list, it is because Southern Poverty Law Center hates true, historic Christianity,” said Campbell. “You make enough waves, and they put you on their list.”
Kelson said one wave that’s hard to ignore is the marriage of religion and weapons in the Lordship Church.
“I have gone to about 30 different churches in my lifetime in about four different states, and since I have been home, there has been an accidental shooting in a church during a Sunday service,” said Kelson. “I went to a church to watch my legislators do a town hall, and the minister that prayed before the event took place was carrying a pistol. Looking at this gentleman’s church and some of his videos, he feels it is necessary to carry. It is really confusing to me.”
Raised in the area, Kelson stands by the fact that there is little crime in Boundary County that would warrant carrying a gun into a grocery store, let alone a church. He is not against gun ownership, he said, but he thinks there should be a reason behind it, such as hunting to feed one’s family.
“The fear that they have is just not something I can appreciate in this community, because there has never been anything to fear,” said Kelson. “My family has been in this county since 1898 and there was never any fear. The guns that we carry are to feed our family. It’s not a statement.”
He added, “I think they are making a statement, and they have the right to do so. I don’t question that. Like I have the right to play in the street, but I don’t because it doesn’t really make sense.”
Kelson said responsible gun ownership includes being trained to use weapons in every scenario. Not everybody commits to that level of training, he said, so dangerous situations can escalate into tragedies.
Campbell counters, saying, “My life and the lives of my family have been threatened by Muslims. That is why I carry a gun everywhere.”
Critics also accuse the Lordship Church of harboring racist beliefs — by definition, the prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.
That’s a tough argument to make, Campbell said, considering he and his wife adopted a child of a different race.
Campbell said he is strict about teaching the word of God as it is written and in the literal translation. The Bible has passages about anger, hatred, revenge, criticism, complaining, fear, and lies. It also has passages that speak about achievements, success, compassion, giving to others, confidence, encouragement, hope, and God’s forgiveness of sin.
“I understand the freedoms we have, and I love this great country,” Kelson said. “They have the right to move here, they have the right to have their church here, and they have the right to have their views. But what people don’t understand is that with all the freedoms we have, we do not have a freedom without consequences.”
Kelson said that in his view, the Lordship Church is missing one of the Bible’s most important messages: Don’t judge others.
“I don’t understand how you can dislike a portion of society because they’re a little bit different,” he said. “What I remember from my Bible is that God is the only one to judge. It’s not our place to do that, and I don’t think it’s necessary to do that from a pulpit.”