Micronations. Sometimes they sound like the personal fiefdom of interstellar slug gangsters. Sometimes they do exactly what it says on the tin. And other times they sound like a villainous Star Trek faction. Which brings us to the amazingly named ‘Dominion of Melchizedek’, a micronation famous for two things; not actually having any occupied land anywhere, and being an utter and complete sham.
From conman to prime minister
The Dominion of Melchizedek was founded in 1990 by a stand-up guy named Mark Pedley. Pedley’s life was most notable at this stage for a string of fraud-related convictions, but in 1990 he decided to turn that all around and rededicate his life to an unorthodox take on Christianity. Pedley named the Dominion for a king who briefly appears in the Bible. Along with his father, Pedley set to work writing his own version of the Good Book. Gone were references to the Holy Ghost, for instance, replaced with the phrase ‘Scientific Being’.
The next step in Pedley’s nation-crafting was to find a suitable tract of land. The thing is, unclaimed tracts of land are kinda hard to come by. Pedley initially claimed a small Colombian island for the Dominion, and later switched to an uninhabited island in the South Pacific. There was good reason for it being uninhabited; it was completely submerged at high tide.
War, diplomatic success, and the conquest of Antarctica
It wasn’t long, however, before the pesky French started nuclear testing in the South Pacific. The Dominion’s prime minister had no choice; it was war.
Pedley advised the upstart French that, if they did not cease their testing, the Dominion would have no choice but to retaliate with a nuclear strike of their own. You’re probably wondering when, exactly, the Dominion developed their own nuclear weapons, but Mark Pedley’s got you covered. Melchizedekean allies in the Carpathian Mountains had totally got a hold of Soviet nuclear weapons, and were poised to strike at the Dominion’s command.
The French decided to completely ignore this warning, despite the threat of total annihilation. Pedley, demonstrating more restraint than you or I, ultimately stayed his hand. The ignorant French never knew how close they had come to tasting the wrath of the Dominion.
After this, the prime minister decided it was time to expand. Further South Pacific islands were claimed, and the Dominion conquered a large swathe of Antarctica without ever setting foot there. The Dominion even scored a major diplomatic coup by establishing formal ties with the Central African Republic. This was only slightly soured by the killjoys over at the Washington Post, who said that “you get the feeling the Central African Republic would recognise the State of Denial if it had a letterhead.”
A “mothership for con artists”
The Post were not the only ones looking to ruin the Dominion’s good time. US authorities alleged that the Dominion was a mere front for confidence tricksters of all stripes to peddle their nefarious schemes. The Dominion issued banking charters and passports in order to lend a veneer of legitimacy to fraudulent schemes, or so claims the fraud office for the US Comptroller of the Currency.
In what was surely a string of unfortunate coincidences, several citizens of the Dominion were convicted on fraud charges. In 1995, a prince of the Dominion was convicted in Hong Kong of attempting to pass a $319,000 cheque from a Melchizedek-chartered bank. In 1996, the Dominion’s Secretary of Commerce was jailed in Texas for perpetrating insurance fraud. The former prime minister of the Dominion and Pedley’s wife, a Filipina woman who goes by multiple identities and claims to be a princess, was investigated several times for fraud.
The same woman – variously Elvira Gamboa, Pearlina Gamboa, and Bae C. Catiguman, was also linked to the alleged theft of $300,000 from a San Francisco businessman. Said businessman alleges Gamboa had him kidnapped and held hostage by Filipino thugs whilst she burnt through his money. Princess Gamboa/Catiguman later allegedly threatened to cut the man’s hands off. She also declared a “spiritual war” on a Californian Deputy Attorney General. Gamboa informed the presumably terrified man that she would attack him in his dreams.
Despite the scurrilous accusations levelled at the Dominion, it marches on. There was a change in leadership in February of 2012 and the new leadership denounced the nation’s ‘Melchizedekean Bible’.
If you are interested in reaching out to the Dominion, you can visit their official website at www.melchizedek.com.