A Race Baiter, A Sexual Predator, And The Church Where They Worship God

by Travis Mateer

The catalyst for this article comes from the Kaimin, Missoula’s University newspaper, and its Open Air piece fretting about the traveling preachers and why they keep visiting UM’s campus.

The race baiter referenced in the title of this post is Tobin Shearer, a professor on campus who I am VERY familiar with after writing this post back in 2017 about the killing of Missoula’s Festival of the Dead. Shearer is quoted in the article about the traveling preacher. From the first link (emphasis mine):

Tobin Shearer works for the university of Montana in the history department. He’s the director of African American Studies and graduate studies, but before he started working for the University, he got his degree in religious studies and history. 

He knows a lot about religion, but he also knows a lot about campus dynamics. According to him, the preachers aren’t a new phenomenon. 

“I’ve been here 15 years, I would say, on average, at least every other year, there’s someone at some point in the course of the year doing that same thing… the evangelical sort of belligerence has been recurrent over time,” Shearer said. 

The preachers are usually evangelists. They come in a million different flavors of religion, but the goal is basically to convert people to their beliefs. If you’re super secular like me, you may be thinking, if they wanted people to join their church, maybe they should be nicer about how they recruit people. How does screaming insults into a crowd of twenty-somethings make them hungry for Jesus? 

Why am I pointing out the claim Shearer is making about himself being SUPER SECULAR? Because it confuses me, that’s why. And it confuses me because Tobin Shearer goes to a Presbyterian church here in Missoula, the same one a doctor recently sentenced for sexually predating on some of his female patients attends.

If you doubt my claim regarding Shearer’s associations with this local church, here is some evidence from a service held on May 22, 2022, referencing Shearer’s influence on the content of said church:

While I don’t think claiming to be SUPER SECULAR necessarily precludes one from attending a church, I do find it curious that someone who is posturing for the University newspaper as just interested in religion on a secular level is, in actuality, quite involved in a local church.

Maybe Tobin Shearer is squeamish about that sexual predator I mentioned above who goes to the same church he does, but I’m not sure why this should be a problem, since Jaime Armstrong is probably SUPER repentant, and FPC is a SUPER progressive church. So he sexually assaulted some patients? Isn’t that what God’s forgiveness is for?

Yes, there’s Armstrong, and there are some of his supporters. Can I get an amen?

Jaime Armstrong, for those who don’t know, has an interesting familial pedigree. While this obituary has some good info on Armstrong Senior, I’m going to just skip along to the Wikipedia entry about the Supreme Court case Papa Armstrong was a central figure in:

Mazurek v. Armstrong, 520 U.S. 968 (1997), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court upheld a Montana law permitting only licensed physicians to perform abortions.[1] The Court summarily reversed a ruling of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that had held that the law was likely intended to inhibit abortion access. In a per curiam opinion, a majority of the Court found that there was no evidence that the Montana legislature acted with an invalid intent. The Court also reiterated its earlier holding in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that the states have broad flexibility to regulate abortion so long as their regulations do not create an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose. Three dissenting justices, in an opinion by Justice John Paul Stevens, wrote that they would have declined to hear the case because proceedings were still pending in the lower courts. The law itself was later struck down by the Montana Supreme Court on state-constitutional grounds, but the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision has nonetheless had a significant impact on modern American abortion jurisprudence.

I don’t see anything to be ashamed about here, do you?

Going back to the original Kaimin article, the spin on dissing the EVANGELICALS who bother students includes another person who bugs the shit out of me, and that’s Travis McAdams with the Montana Human Rights Network.

McAdams’ role is to come in and make sure Christians are associated with WHITE SUPREMACY. Here’s McAdams doing his thing for the gullible students:

Although it may seem like indiscriminate chaos, there’s a method to the sign-waving madness. Travis McAdams works for the Montana Human Rights network. He usually researches how to combat white supremacy. The preachers aren’tin the exact same camp as white supremacists, but the two groups share some recruitment tactics. 

“They wanna create a somewhat hostile environment and try to get people passing by to engage with them and generally engage with them in negative ways. And they want that for a couple of reasons. One, it allows them to portray themselves as these victims, even though it’s based on a situation that they’ve created…. But it allows them to pretend that they’re the victims, they’re the ones under attack. And in doing. If they record it, which most of these groups will do, they record it, they post it on social media, they use it to recruit members. They use it to raise money, and so it’s not about discussion. It’s not about an open exchange of ideas…. It’s about trying to create a hostile environment to generate reactions that they can then capture on video and use for their purposes on social media,” McAdam said.  

While Tobin Shearer joins secular forces with Travis McAdams to imply street preachers should be lumped in with white supremacists because they share similar tactics, the tactics of individual predators can transform ANY church into a target-rich environment for their prowling.

Has that happened with the church Shearer attends? Does his church simply lack discernment or, worse, is the leadership too focused on the external threats of a culture war that they are willfully ignoring the very real threat of supporting a sexual predator who had a judge say THIS about him:

Armstrong’s defense and the Lewis and Clark County Attorney’s Office proposed a lighter, deferred sentence of three years of supervision and then the charges would be wiped from his record, but District Judge Christopher Abbott told Armstrong from the bench, “it’s important this conviction follow you.

Instead, Abbott handed down a sentence of 10 years to the Department of Corrections with all incarceration suspended. Officials determined Armstrong has a low risk to re-offend, and he will not be eligible for conditional discharge from supervision for at least five years.

As part of the plea agreement, Armstrong voluntarily terminated his Montana medical license and may not seek or renew a medical license in any state during the time of supervision.

Abbott also barred Armstrong from seeking any job in health care with direct access to patients while on supervision. He is to have no contact with his two victims.

“I’m not going to send you to prison. I think that would likely cause you to withdraw your plea,” Abbot said. “I also need to be respectful of the victims, if it’s not their desire to go forward with a trial.”

Abbott said he was concerned that bringing the case to a trial would cause “great distress” to the victims “for possibly a lesser outcome than agreed to today.”

The problem with this kind of internal, in-your-own-backyard kind of threat is talking about it doesn’t get your “non-profit” more donations or your academic career another book deal.

Maybe that sounds unnecessarily cynical, but if this public posturing continues, while more immediate threats are ignored, then the supposed cultural good being sought by the Shearers’ and McAdams’ of the world will fall on deaf ears.

You know, kind of like what happens with these angry preachers you two white dudes are complaining about.

If you appreciate my content, please consider making a one-time, or reoccurring donation at my about page.

Thanks for reading!

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply