Included within the Christian Identity movements are: Anglo-Israelism, British-Israelism,
and some white supremacists, anti-semitic and other hate groups.
The term "Christian Identity" has two distinct meanings:
Anglo-Israelism (a.k.a. British-Israelism): A theological
belief that the Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, Scandinavian, Germanic and
associated cultures are the racial descendents of the tribes of
Israel. Thus, by extension, Americans and Canadians, are composed of
the descendents of the ancient Israelites of the Hebrew Scriptures
Racist, Christian-based faith groups: A number of small,
extremely conservative Fundamentalist Christian denominations which
have accepted Anglo-Israelism, and grafted it to racist, sexist,
anti-communist and homophobic beliefs. They view the Jewish people as
descendants of Satan. Followers tend to be involved in political
movements opposing gun control, equal rights to gays and lesbians, and
The second meaning has become dominant in the U.S. and Canada. We will
use it for the remainder of this essay.
The Christian Identity movement is a movement of many extremely conservative
Christian churches and religious organizations, extreme right wing political groups and
survival groups. Some are independent; others are loosely interconnected.
According to Professor Michael Barkun, one of the leading experts in the
Christian Identity movement, "This virulent racist and anti-Semitic
theology, which is practiced by over 50,000 people in the United States alone,
is prevalent among many right wing extremist groups and has been called the
'glue' of the racist right."
The largest Christian Identity movement has traditionally been the Ku Klux Klan
which was reorganized in 1915 by William Simmons, a Christian pastor. He had been inspired
by the film The Birth of a Nation which portrayed the KKK as a champion of white
civilization. The KKK slid into obscurity by the second World War, but was revitalized in
the mid 1950's as a reaction to enforced racial integration in the southern US.
"Wesley Swift is considered the single most significant figure in
the early years of the Christian Identity movement in the United States. He
popularized it in the right-wing by 'combining British-Israelism, a demonic
anti-Semitism, and political extremism.' 6 He founded his
own church in California in the mid 1940s where he could preach this ideology.
In addition, he had a daily radio broadcast in California during the 1950s and
60s, through which he was able to proclaim his ideology to a large audience.
With Swiftís efforts, the message of his church spread, leading to the
creation of similar churches throughout the country. In 1957, the name of his
church was changed to The Church of Jesus Christ Christian, which is used
today by Aryan Nations (AN) churches."
"One of Swiftís associates, William Potter Gale, was far more
militant than Swift and brought a new element to Christian Identity churches.
He became a leading figure in the anti-tax and paramilitary movements of the
1970s and 80s. There are numerous Christian Identity churches that preach
similar messages and some espouse more violent rhetoric than others, but all
hold fast to the belief that Aryans are Godís chosen race."
Other current organizations which follow Christian Identity beliefs are: American Nazi
Party; Aryan Nations; Church of Jesus Christ Christian, Aryan Nations; Confederate
Hammerskins; Jubilee, National Association for the Advancement of White People; The Order;
radical modern offshoots of the original Posse Comitatus; Scriptures for America, White Aryan Resistance (WAR) and
White Separatist Banner. Many small groups fade in and out of existence frequently.
"Christian Identity also believes in the inevitability of the end
of the world and the Second Coming of Christ. It is believed that these events
are part of a cleansing process that is needed before Christís kingdom can
be established on earth. During this time, Jews and their allies will attempt
to destroy the white race using any means available. The result will be a
violent and bloody struggle -- a war, in effect -- between Godís forces, the
white race, and the forces of evil, the Jews and nonwhites. Significantly,
many adherents believe that this will be tied into the coming of the new
"The view of what Armageddon will be varies among Christian
Identity believers. Some contend there will be a race war in which millions
will die; others believe that the United Nations, backed by Jewish
representatives of the anti-Christ, will take over the country and promote a
New World Order. One Christian Identity interpretation is that white
Christians have been chosen to watch for signs of the impending war in order
to warn others. They are to then physically struggle with the forces of evil
against sin and other violations of Godís law (i.e., race-mixing and
internationalism); many will perish, and some of Godís chosen will be forced
to wear the Mark of the Beast to participate in business and commerce. After
the final battle is ended and Godís kingdom is established on earth, only
then will the Aryan people be recognized as the one and true Israel."
"Christian Identity adherents believe that God will use his chosen
race as his weapons to battle the forces of evil. Christian Identity followers
believe they are among those chosen by God to wage this battle during
Armageddon and they will be the last line of defense for the white race and
Christian America. To prepare for these events, they engage in survivalist and
paramilitary training, storing foodstuffs and supplies, and caching weapons
and ammunition. They often reside on compounds located in remote areas."
of the more radical
"CI" groups advocate, but do not themselves engage in violence against Jews, Blacks, and Homosexuals now, rather
than waiting for Armageddon to begin.
The Watchman web site contained a quote from a Christian Identity
leader which gives a flavor of their style of rhetoric, and their predictions for the
future of North America:
"We are going to build the Kingdom of our God on this continent if we have to turn
it into a Bosnia first! Death may find you in front of your one-eyed church of Satan or in
the filthy bingo parlors where you worship your devil god, but be sure that you will not
escape the consuming fire that is the real baptism of the Holy Ghost, The God of Racial
Such groups have hijacked the benign religious concept of Anglo-Israelism,
(also known as British-Israelism). The latter teach that the British (and by
extension Americans, Canadians, and others) are the spiritual and literal descendants of
the 10 lost tribes of ancient Israel. After the invasion of the Northern kingdom
of Israel, the Assyrians scattered the indigenous population. They resettled in
the Caucasus Mountains, and later drifted into Europe. The Christian Identity movement extended that theory
and generated their own profoundly racist doctrine. They believe that the white race (or
the "Aryan peoples" or "White Anglo Saxon Protestants", or the
"British Peoples", or "White Americans") represent God's chosen
people, as mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). They have taken these
beliefs in an extreme direction to justify their hatred of Blacks, Jews, homosexuals and
Some beliefs held in common by many Christian Identity (CI) groups are:
A view of the white race, the "Adamic race" or "True Israelites"
as superior. Other races are the "Satanic spawn" of Cain. This leads
naturally to a hatred of Blacks, Native Americans, and immigrants from
That Adam and Eve were white. Many other "pre-Adamic" and non-white people
were already in existence when Adam was created. This leads to the belief that Anglo-Saxon
Protestants are the "true identity" of God's chosen people of the Hebrew
Scriptures. Non-whites are considered sub-human. These Biblical beliefs confirm their
concept of white racial superiority. As a minimum, they call for racial
separation; some call for extermination of what the call the "mud
races" (non-white races).
That the Commandment which forbids adultery does not refer to extra-marital sexual
relationships. Rather, it forbids "racial adultery"; i.e. inter-racial
marriages. Their reasoning is that the 10th Commandment which forbids coveting one's
neighbor's possessions already bans adultery; one of those "possessions" is the
neighbor's wife. And, God would not have repeated Himself.
They consider themselves to be the direct descendants Adam's son Abel and
thus are God's chosen people. They
regard the Jewish people as having descended from Cain. Thus the Jewish
belief that they are the chosen people is invalid. This has led to an extreme anti-Semitism within the
Christian Identity movement.
They frequently promote complex conspiracy theories. For example, 1
"Mainstream Christianity is acting in concert with the Jews through a group
called "Cult Awareness Network" which is a front for the ADL [Jewish
Anti-Defamation League] to destroy 'The Family'". (The latter is an international
group of small intentional Fundamentalist Christian communities which has been called a cult by the Counter-cult Movement).
The "New Age movement can best be described as a 'Counterfeit Identity'. It is
being raised up by Jews to provide a substitute for the real truth."
"..all that is commonly known as modern Christianity is the creation of the
1999-FEB-4: FBI director Louis Freeh warned that: "With the coming of the
next millennium, some religious/apocalyptic groups or individuals may turn to violence as
they seek to achieve dramatic effects to fulfill their prophecies." He also
talked about another disturbing religious trend: "Many white supremacist
groups adhere to the Christian Identity belief system, which holds that the world is on
the verge of a final apocalyptic struggle...and teaches that the white race is the chosen
race of God." He warned that in late 1999, some Christian Identity members might
prepare for their anticipated Armageddon by committing robberies to finance their
activities. Director Freeh said that the government, Jews and non-whites are likely
1999-AUG-13: Women Leaders Online reported that a
number of the most serious urban U.S. terrorism acts were perpetrated by
members of Christian Identity groups, including:
Eric Rudolph, a suspect in bombings at a Birmingham AL abortion clinic
and at the Atlanta Olympics
Arsonists who torched three synagogues in Sacramento CA in 1999-JUL
Murder of a gay couple near Redding, CA
Buford O'Neal Furrow Jr, suspect in the murder of a postal service
employee and the attempted murder of 5 individuals at a Jewish community
center in Los Angeles CA in 1999-AUG.
"and many other violent crimes across the country."
In addition, three men who were charged with two bank robberies, and
three bombings in Spokane, Washington in 1996-APR were linked to the CI
movement. The crimes were apparently motivated by a need to raise money for
These terrorist acts appear to be planned and executed by individual
Christian Identity followers, and not by Identity churches or the movement
itself. Because of the freedom of speech and religion guaranteed in the 1st
Amendment of the Constitution, the FBI is prohibited from general monitoring
and infiltrating of Christian Identity and similar groups.
1999-OCT-20: The FBI announced completion of their Project
Megiddo report. This followed an intensive study of the possibility of
domestic terrorism during the millennium. It included a section on the
Christian Identity movement. 5
2003-JUN-25: South Africa: White supremacist, conservative
Christianity spreading rapidly: A decade after the collapse of white
minority rule and apartheid, scores of right-wing white supremacist Christian
faith groups are being founded. They believe that black majority rule is a
punishment sent by God because of the disobedience by the Afrikaner people.
They view themselves as descendents of the ten lost tribes of Israel -- white
people whose destiny is to rule over all races who are forbidden to mix with
Reverend Willie Smith, who was formerly a Baptist minister for
26 years, founded Lewende Hoop (Living Hope) in Kroonstad in the
Free State in the late 1990s. He said: "I looked around and saw the
need of my people, the Afrikaners. They do not know who they are. The
other churches are not preaching the truth. But I tell them, you are the
people of the Bible. The Bible was written for you....We strayed from the
teachings of the Bible. Our leaders sold us out. They want us to mix with
the other races. But it is not working. The other churches are preaching
that you must love all. But we donít want that. We don't want to overthrow
the Government. We have to wait for deliverance from the Lord....We are
suffering under this ANC-communist regime. We want blacks, coloreds and
the other races to return to their traditions. If we rule, it will be a
blessing for all of Africa." Smith's group allegedly consists of
thirty congregations with a total of 6,000 believers. 8
Mark Thomas, Editor, The Watchman 1993-OCT. They have no connection with the
"Watchman Fellowship", an counter-cult group.
"The Watchman", the voice of the Pennsylvania Christian Posse
Comitatus. It was available at: http://www2.stormfront.org/watchman/index.html
However, it has recently been discontinued, and replaced with a message: "According
to published news reports, Watchman editor Mark Thomas has pled guilty to involvement in a
series of bank robberies and has agreed to become a government witness. I have therefore
shut down his page, which Stormfront had designed and hosted free of charge...."
Patricia Wilson, "FBI Director Freeh Warns of Millennium Violence,"
Excite News/Reuters, 1999-FEB-4.
America's Promise Ministries" is a worldwide Christian
Ministry of Identity believers." at: http://amprom.org/
God's Order Affirmed in Love (GOAL) is a reference library for
reconstructing a national identify for Christian whites at: http://www.melvig.org/
The Gospel Broadcasting Association is "a
ministry of God-fearing, Bible-believing Christians who understand that the peoples of the
world who historically have embraced Christianity óthe Caucasians, the Anglo-Saxons,
the Celts, the Scandanavians, [sic] &c.ó are the racial descendants of Biblical
Israel, the covenant people of God." at: http://www.broadcaster.org/
Kingdom Identity Ministries is a "Politically Incorrect
Christian Identity outreach ministry to God's chosen race (true Israel, the White,
European peoples)." at: http://www.kingidentity.com/
Posse Comitatus "is dedicated to the education of the Children
of Yahweh, the Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, Teutonic, Scandinavian, Lombardic, Celtic peoples of
the earth, the so-called 'Lost Tribes of the House Of Isra'el' and to the total
destruction of the yehudi-shatan!" at: http://www.posse-comitatus.org/
Articles and books on Christian Identity:
Michael Barkun, "Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian
Identity Movement", University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill NC (1994),
W.L. Ingram, "God and Race: British-Israelism and Christian Identity"
P. 119 - 126 in T. Miller, Ed., "America's Alternative Religions" , SUNY
Press, Albany NY, 1995