Just when you thought the Tea party leadership couldn’t get weirder, someone discovered a fascinating item.
It turns out that Henry Kriegel–right-wing nutjob, radio show host, pretender to the Tea Party throne, and leader of the Bozeman Tea Party–has been a high-ranking member of the Church Universal and Triumphant, also known as CUT.
In fact, Kriegel was actually featured a while back in an LA Times article about people who wander off and get caught up in cult-like religious movements. An “out of stater” (to use a Republican phrase), Kriegel is from New York and left the east coast on a soul search, came to Montana, and joined up with CUT. Wikipedia says that CUT members worship, among other things,
“esoteric mysticism, the paranormal and alchemy, with a belief in angels, elves, fairies, and other beings it calls elementals” and “Ascended Masters through the Holy Spirit such as Sanat Kumara, Maitreya, Djwal Khul, El Morya, Kuthumi, Paul the Venetian, Serapis Bey, the Master Hilarion, Lanto, Lady Master Nada, Godfre, Lady Master Lotus, and Lanello, Enoch and Elohim.”
Hey, it’s a free country. Worship what pleases you (although, given his association with this weirdness, you gotta love the Bozeman Tea Party, and presumably Kriegel, complaining about a Mosque in New York.)
But even better, CUT was the bunch who believed that the world was going to end of a nuclear holocaust at a particular hour and minute on April 23, 1990. They built a massive underground bomb shelter up near Gardiner, MT and stocked it with several years worth of canned food and dried fruit and other supplies, in preparation for The End. When the dreaded hour approached, they headed down into the bunker to take cover from the Apocalypse. Alas, when the earth and humanity were still around the next day, the church and its leaders lost a lot of credibility, and many congregants became disillusioned and left, and went looking for another fringe sect to be a part of. And in Kriegel’s case, he found it–the Tea Party.
It is unclear whether Kriegel was in the bunker, or whether he is still involved with the church. Or even whether he believes in elves, fairies or the Master Hilarion or Lady Master Nada. (Who the heck is Lady Master Nada, anyway?) There is no mention of his CUT affiliation in any of his biographical material that I can find on the web. Likely it’s not something he is comfortable discussing in public.
But nothing about the Kriegel background really surprises me. The Tea Party is a crackpot enterprise of the first order. All you needed to do was witness the rally in Helena a while back, racists, militia-types, black-helicopter fearing conspiracy theorists, birthers and other idiots. As I recall, Kriegel addressed the crowd and ranted and raved and frothed unintelligibly (as Tea Partiers do) about excessive government, pointing to the Capitol building and complaining about spending and taxes.
Unfortunately the spending part was a little strange because while he was delivering his sermon, the Wall Street Journal, the most conservative paper in America, was churning out an editorial (written, no less, by the ultra-conservative Fox News economist Stephen Moore) praising the State of Montana as being the best fiscally managed state in America.
And the taxes part is even better: A few years ago, Kriegel was busted by the IRS for failing to pay a fortune in income taxes. Somehow, he got a bankruptcy court to let him off the hook on a large portion of it, that weasel.
For more Tea Party analysis and commentary, head over to Intelligent Discontent and read The Perfect Post-Modern Party and Don’t Think the Tea Party Runs the Montana GOP? Think Again.