'Christianity - Religion for White Racists'

by Viola Larson

"Christian Identity" is the name of a religious movement

uniting many of the white supremacist groups in the United States.

Identity's teachers promote racism and sometimes violence. Their

roots are deeply embedded in movements such as the Ku Klux Klan

and the Nazis. They consider themselves true Israel and view the

Jews as half-devils and arch enemies. They believe all but the

white race are inferior creations. Identity's religious views are

bizarre and occultic, and their view of history is often informed

by conspiracy theories. Identity's use of the name "Christian" to

promote racism and violence is blasphemous. Jesus Christ as

redeemer of all races is God's supreme answer to Identity's

outrageous claims.


The headline read "Separatist Surrenders in Idaho." The

story was about Randy Weaver, a man indicted for selling two

sawed-off shotguns to undercover federal agents. During the

FBI's attempt to force Weaver to leave his Idaho home and

return to court, three people were killed: a federal agent and

Weaver's wife and son. When the standoff was over, 15 handguns,

shotguns, and rifles were collected from his cabin.[1] Randy

Weaver is a member of a religious movement called "Christian

Identity." This "Christian" wing of the larger white

supremacist movement is composed of adherents who variously

give allegiance to the burning cross of the Ku Klux Klan and

the sun sign -- the twisted swastika -- of the Neo-Nazis.

The movement, also called "Israel Identity," has become the

uniting force among many white supremacist groups. Included in

most religious teaching produced by its leaders are racist

statements that echo the statements of other white

supremacists. The most moderate groups publish hate

literature; the more radical groups turn to violence, including

murder. Among those attracted to Identity in recent years are

racist and violent young "skinheads" -- some of whom were a

part of the crowd of three hundred people who chanted racial

slurs at federal marshals attempting to capture Weaver.

Although Identity groups are small in number and diverse,

their penchant for social agitation attracts widespread media

attention. The recent discovery that racist groups in the

United States are supplying both literature and organizational

help to racist groups in Germany is of concern to the whole

Western world. One article by the Associated Press states that

"violent acts perpetrated by far-right German extremists rose

from 270 in 1990 to 1,483 last year, mostly attacks on

foreigners."[2] The article goes on to say that "police

investigating KKK activities in Germany raided some 30

buildings in May."[3]

Not understanding the violent and racist nature of

Identity, Christians sometimes connect with this movement

because of Identity's espousal of issues such as right-to-life

and anti-Communism. Because of this vulnerability it is

important for Christians to know and understand Identity's

false and racist teachings. For the sake of non-Christians, it

is also important for Christians to differentiate between

biblical Christianity and Identity. Finally, it is the moral

duty of Christians to stand against the evil intent of this

form of white supremacist teaching. It is to further each of

these three purposes that this article has been written.


Identity adherents believe they are the only descendants of

Adam and the only chosen descendants of Abraham. This is the

reason for the name Identity -- they are convinced they know

their true identity. They believe they are members of the

supposed ten lost tribes of Israel. Identity adherents of today

would include the British, Germanic, and Scandinavian peoples

as those comprising the tribes of lost Israel. On the other

hand, the Jew has for them become the great enemy. This

insistence on singling out Jewish people as the enemy of the

white race is the Identity movement's most clear link to Adolf

Hitler and his Nazi ideas. The more extreme groups believe in

what is referred to as the "serpent seed" teaching that Eve and

Satan had sexual intercourse and produced Cain, starting a line

of half-devil people. For many Identity groups this imagined

half-devil line of Cain is the Jewish race.

Pastor Arnold Murray, an Identity preacher from Gravette,

Arkansas, calls them "Kenites" (an Old Testament people he

identifies as "Cainites") and believes they were associated

with Judah until they took over leadership of that tribe. These

"Jews" were the people who killed Christ. Pastor Murray teaches

that calling the Jews the chosen people of God is the gravest

of sins. He says, "Bless your heart if you have ever been

deceived by the Kenite, and I am speaking now on the spiritual

level, if you have ever really believed that group was the

chosen of God you were deceived by Satan. Repent of that even

more so than your personal sins in the personal sense."[4]

Some other Identity teachers believe the Jews are children

of Satan only in a figurative sense. But this really does not

change their attitude toward Jewish people -- their statements

about the Jews still reflect a deep hatred. One writes about

the Jew: "We know that as a race, they have the sly

characteristics of the serpent...We know they have intimidated

and imposed their will on our own government and every

government in the nations of Christendom, through their

dominance of finance, government, church, education, and the


In this scenario, a political position begins to emerge: the

Jews are placed in a position of conspirators with Satan to take

dominion over the world. In an awful reversal of their biblical

role, the true Jewish people are now cast as the archenemy of God

and humanity. Claiming the sacred history and the sacred Book for

themselves, Identity teachers remove all that is a part of the

Jew's humanity.


Racial bigotry extends far beyond the Jews in Identity

teaching. Since the white race alone has descended from Adam,

the other races are viewed as a _prior_ creation. They insist

that Genesis 1:24, which describes the creation of animals and

is prior to the creation of Adam, includes a description of all

nonwhite races. In that list of created beings -- "cattle and

creeping things and beasts of the earth" -- they single out the

word _beast_ as a description of other races. This of course

means they believe the other races are inferior. All Identity

teachers refer to the word _beast_ to explain how other races

escaped the flood; they were included among the creatures that

Noah and his sons rounded up for the ark.

Because Identity teachers hold that the other races are of a

different creation, they consider interracial marriage a sin.

Identity teachers insist that interracial marriage was the

cause of God's judgment on the people of Noah's time.

Consistent with this twisted view of Scripture, they believe

that to marry someone of another race is treason to one's own

race. Pastor Pete Peters of La Porte, Colorado informs us that

he teaches his children to never marry a person of another

race. He adds: "I teach them also that if they ever did such a

thing -- never to come around my house with their mate or their

half-breed children because they've been traitors to their own


Some teachers -- such as Richard Butler and his Aryan

Nations, and Dan Gayman and his Church of Israel -- see the

black race as aliens and cohorts with Satan, and all other

races as creatures who, like animals, have no spirits. In the

fantasy world of extreme Identity, when Lucifer rebels he uses

spacecraft and fights battles against God with the help of

beings from other planets. The alien beings are forced to earth

according to one tape: "For the fleet...came to earth like

crumpled birds and...some survived and...some were wiped

out....the dark and curly-headed ones never before seen upon

the earth, the coming of the Negroid race."[7]

Although Arnold Murray affirms that all the other races are

good, he offers the public, without apology, the book _Tracing

Our Ancestors_ by Frederick Haberman. Haberman writes: "It must

be noticed that there is a great difference between the three

principal races of mankind...and there exists little

relationship between the three. The white race were

unquestionably the last comers, being in every way superior to

the other two and constituting their leaders and teachers."[8]

Pastor Murray also teaches that even among Christians the

different races should have no fellowship.[9] All Identity

groups certainly see the white race ruling over the other



*Racism as Science and History.* Many of Identity's racist

ideas can be traced to the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Esoteric sounding theories, propagated by intellectuals and

college professors of the day, were used to prove the

inferiority of some races. These theories have been disproved

by modern scholarship but are kept alive by the racist of

today. One of the terms common to such theories was

_physiognomy,_ an ancient method for determining human

character by the study of facial features. This included

comparing those features to animal ones.[10] Also, many

historians of the time were highly nationalistic and,

therefore, prone to write with a high regard for the white


*Religious Racism.* Another form of racism developed along

religious and nationalistic lines. The growing concern of the

peoples in the West (including the United States) with their

own national interest led to some strange ideas about national

identity. In the United States a theory called "Manifest

Destiny" evolved. That view included the understanding that it

was the nation's God-given destiny to expand from the east

coast to the west coast, and perhaps even to the southern end

of Mexico. In England another movement began that would later

blend well with the Manifest Destiny ideas held by some in the

United States. This religious movement was nationalistic,

assigning religious worth more to race than to righteousness.

The movement, Anglo-Israelism, began in 1870. It was founded

by the Rev. John Wilson, a nonconformist minister who expounded

the idea that the Anglo-Saxons were the supposed ten lost

tribes of Israel. Believing the nations of western Europe and

the United States to be God's chosen people, they expected them

to receive all the promises God gave to Israel in the Old


Mr. Edward Hine brought the Anglo-Israelism movement to the

United States in 1870, the same year the movement began in

England. His efforts were mostly unfruitful, but his book,

_Identification of the British Nation with Lost Israel,_ is

still used by adherents of Identity in the United States.

Hine's book was first among a spate of Anglo-Israel literature

published in the U. S. -- including a periodical published by

Yale Professor Charles A. L. Totten called, _Our Race, Its

Origins and Its Destiny._[11] Today, with few exceptions (the

Worldwide Church of God being one), most adherents of

Anglo-Israelism are in the Identity movement.

*The Turn toward Violence.* Extreme racism entered

Anglo-Israelism because some of its most prominent adherents

were also connected to the Ku Klux Klan, and the Klan in turn

had become interested in the Nazis. The KKK was born, without

overt racist intentions, in 1867. Thomas F. Gossett, author of

_Race: The History of an Idea in America,_ notes that "the Klan

originated as a lark among young men in southern Tennessee who

-- so the story goes -- chose this method of visiting their

sweethearts attired in their version of the costume of Knights

of old and discovered accidentally that they were terrifying

the Negroes."12 The Klan grew in its attempt to control black

people during the Reconstruction period. The methods included

"assassination, whipping, tarring and feathering."[13] The Klan

during the 1920s added the Jew and Catholic to their list of

enemies in an attempt to attract more members. By 1923

membership had reached between three and six million people.

Decline came with the depression of the 1930s and also with the

Ku Klux Klan's overtures to the American arm of the Nazi party

before the Second World War.[14]

The merging of Klan and Nazi extremism into the

Anglo-Israelism movement -- which then produced the Identity

movement -- can largely be traced to one man: Wesley Swift.

However, it was not Swift but Howard B. Rand (whose writings

are published by Destiny Publishers) who first coined the term

_Identity._ According to James Coates, Rand's intention was "to

describe Hine's concept of Anglo-Israelism, in which Jesus was

not a Jew of the tribe of Judah but an Aryan of the ten lost

tribes of Israel and an ancestor of the present British,

Germanic and Scandinavian people."[15]

Wesley Swift was a prolific speaker and his tapes and

written messages are frequently used by Identity speakers. His

connections to the Nazism of Hitler's Germany are

unquestionable. Swift was at one time both a friend and

advance man for Gerald L. K. Smith, a racist whose radical

career began when he joined the "Silver Shirts," an American

Nazi group formed by Willam Pelley. James Ridgeway, author of

_Blood in the Face_ (a "who's-who of hate"), notes that "with

Pelley as their 'Chief,' the Silver Shirts openly supported

Hitler, cooperated with the pro-Nazi German-American Bund, and

embarked on a program of vicious anti-Semitism."[16]

Swift was also a member of the Ku Klux Klan when he founded

the Identity Church of Jesus Christ Christian in 1946. Richard

Butler, who was led into the Identity movement by Wesley Swift,

inherited Swift's church and founded an Identity compound

called the Aryan Nations, located near Hayden Lake, Idaho.

Butler is an advocate of Nazism, and his yearly Aryan Nations

meetings attract Klan members, Nazi groups, and skinheads.

Some Identity teachers, although racist, reject Nazism in

name, attributing its cause to the Jews. This trend has started

a new controversy within the ranks of Identity. The Identity

groups who reject Nazism also do so because they are perceptive

enough to recognize Nazism's ingrained hatred of true



The list of spiritual influences touching Identity resembles

a religious vanity fair. The Neo-Nazi movement embraces the

zodiac of astrology as easily as it does the teaching of the

quietest mystic Madame Guyon. Its teachers write against the

New Age movement while embracing occultist Edgar Cayce. They

also welcome the deliverance ministries (those ministries that

specialize in the controversial practice of casting demons out

of Christians) while embracing the world of the occult.

*Occult Influence.* Some of the groups that reject Nazism

seem to feature less occult teaching within their published

material. However, except for racist literature, occult

teachings have probably had the greatest influence on most

Identity groups and individuals. This may have partly developed

from prewar occultic German groups that were also anti-Semitic.

German cults such as the Alder and Falken and the Geusen

worshiped the sun. And one influence on Hitler was a group

whose emphasis on German nationality was connected to their

interest in the Druids -- an ancient pagan people many Identity

groups also embrace.[17]

Wesley Swift used occult legends as "truths" in his sermons.

His bizarre teachings included stories about Atlantis and

Lemuria, fictional civilizations included in most occult

philosophy. Identity teachers of today such as Pastor Arnold

Murray maintain that the great Pyramid was built by the

Israelites and is a second revelation of God. The idea that the

measurements of the pyramid are encoded with a revealed message

is occultic, since the message is both supernaturally given and

esoteric, known only by those initiated into that knowledge.

Identity also embraces astrology and occultic tales of Jesus

visiting Britain.

*Other Streams of Religious Influence.* Because many

Identity adherents are people with a history of looking for

"new truths," they often come to Identity from other religious

movements, bringing some of their unique doctrines with them.

Thus the teachings of several smaller religious groups have

been added to the racist teachings of Identity. These include

the Sacred Name movement (using only _Yahweh_ for God and

_Yehoshua_ or some equivalent for Jesus); Jesus Only teaching

(the belief that there are not three persons in the Godhead,

only three offices); and the fringe teachings of the "manifest

sons of God" (the expectation that an elite group of the church

will deliver creation, overcome death, and help God bring in

the kingdom). A few people came out of the restoration and

charismatic movements and added their unique doctrines to

Identity. The restoration movement teaches that God is

restoring lost doctrines to the church. Utilizing this

framework, the Identity teachers include Identity as one of the

lost doctrines. (It is important to point out that although

Identity teachers variously link Identity to the above

movements and teachings, properly speaking these movements have

nothing to do with Identity.)


The Identity stand against the Jews as a people without

value who are enemies of the white race aligns the movement

with other groups that feed constantly on conspiracy theories,

including ones that are Nazi without teaching Anglo-Israelism.

This taste for anti-Semitism is most responsible for the

intermingling of Identity, Neo-Nazi, and other racist groups.

Different groups will often use the same speakers at their

various churches and survivalist camps. And individual members

of different groups will order the same books from racist


For instance, many Identity groups offer books by E. Raymond

Capt and also use him as a speaker, since his specialty is

supposedly archaeology and history. Capt's writing includes

such books as _Stonehenge and Druidism_ and _The Traditions of

Glastonbury: The Silent Years of Jesus between 12 and 30._

Another speaker used by most groups is Lt. Col. Jack Mohr,

whose specialty is anti-Communism. Mohr offers such tapes as

"Background to Betrayal: How America Has Been Betrayed by

Zionists Both Jewish and Christian." Many racist groups,

including Identity groups, sell or refer to the book,

_Protocols of the Elders of Zion._ This fraudulent book is

supposedly a document of conspiracy by Jewish leaders to take

over the world.

Most conspiracy theories have developed from a particular

fear -- and the need to master that fear, by identifying a

cause and then supposedly gaining control of the situation. For

instance, the cause of the Black Plague in the Middle Ages was

attributed to the Jew. The solution espoused was to kill or

remove the Jews. Then the plague would supposedly end. The

disastrous condition of Germany after the First World War was

attributed to the Jew by some fearful Germans. Eventually their

evil solution brought about the Holocaust. And while the John

Birch Society changed most of the leading players in their

conspiracy theory to what they call the "insiders" rather than

Jews, many others still see the Jew as the monster controlling

world events. For these anti-Semites the Jew is often referred

to as the "International Banker."

All of these groups together, both Identity and non-Identity

white supremacist, hold a dangerous sociopolitical view. Their

mutual solution to this supposed "Jewish control" is a race

war. This war is considered by many Identity teachers to be

the last great battle, Armageddon.

According to these teachers, at the head of this conspiracy

that leads to the final battle is ZOG: Zionist Occupation

Government. Zionist Occupation Government simply means to

Identity adherents that the Jewish conspiracy has taken over

the government of the United States. Since they also believe

that Jewish leaders are using other races to destroy the white

race, the final battle pits the white race against virtually

all others. And, because they constantly feed on conspiracy

theories that involve those whose beliefs or politics oppose

their own, Identity's political and religious opposites are

also considered their enemies. Furthermore, they do not have

to love their enemies because they consider most of them



The farm crisis is an important source for Identity

propaganda. Using such tapes as "A Biblical Look at the Farm

Problem," they prey on farmers who are losing their farms.[18]

Some Identity teachers are suggesting that ZOG or the Jews are

behind the loss of the farms. They have managed to pull a few

farmers into the movement through these tactics. This kind of

parasitic existence is typical of Identity extremism. They

appeal to other conservatives concerning such issues as AIDS,

abortion, and prison reform. _This is where some Christians

have been pulled into the circle of Identity._

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