The Christian nationalists and “Patriots” who turned out in force Saturday to protest the annual Pride celebration in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, have been scrambling to disavow any connection to the neofascist elements attracted by their cause—particularly the 31 members of Patriot Front who were arrested in a U-Haul van by Coeur d’Alene police near the park as the event drew to a close. And no one is trying harder to distance himself from them than former Washington legislator Matt Shea, who led a march past the event protesting the LGBTQ community, and whose right-hand man and security chief for his Spokane Valley-based On Fire Ministries, Matt Buster, happens to be the father of two the arrested men.
At first, Shea tried to claim on Facebook that the detainees were actually all antifascists, calling it an “attempted ambush.” Then, two days later, he issued a statement throwing the Busters under the bus: Shea claimed that Buster was “not part of On Fire Ministries leadership in any capacity” and that the two sons, Josiah and Mishael Buster, “do not attend” the church. Yet as recently as last December, an On Fire livestream showed Shea introducing Mishael Buster to the audience and inducing him to join his father on stage to help lead that day’s service.
The day of the arrests, Shea took to Facebook to claim that the detainees as were antifascists. “This attempted ambush from antifa was thwarted,” Shea said. But those claims quickly evaporated as the reality of the identities of the arrested men were revealed to include his personal circle.dailykos Fallout from Coeur d’Alene Patriot Front bust settles on Shea as he throws Busters under bus