Christian Identity

From Academic Kids

Christian Identity is a label applied to a wide variety of loosely-affiliated groups and churches with a racialized theology. Most of them promote a militant white supremacist and neo-Nazi version of Christianity. Their key commonality is British Israelism theology, which teaches that white Europeans are the literal descendants of the Israelites, and that the Israelites are still God's "Chosen People". There are estimated to be about 50,000 adherents of these groups in the United States of America.



Christian Identity asserts that the white Aryan race is God's chosen race and that whites comprise the ten lost tribes of Israel. There is no single document that expresses this belief system. Adherents interpret the Bible to justify their ideas.


Christian Identity groups include the Aryan Nations; Church of Jesus Christ Christian; Confederate Hammerskins; Jubilee; LaPorte Church of Christ; Kingdom Identity Ministries; and White Separatist Banner. Although they have never identified themselves as such, Westboro Baptist Church adheres to most, if not all, of the tenements of the movement. Many members of these groups work in coalitions with other white supremacist but more politically-oriented groups such as the National Alliance. Christian Identity is a major unifying theology for a number of diverse groups on the extreme right. It is a belief system that provides its members with a religious basis for racism and an ideology that condones violence against non-Aryans. This doctrine allows believers to fuse religion with hate, conspiracy theories and an apocalyptic vision of the future.

Iconoclastic Biblical fundamentalism

Interpreting the Book of Genesis, many Christian Identity followers assert that Adam and Eve were preceded by other, lesser races, identified as "the beasts of the field" (Gen. 1:25). Eve was seduced by the snake (Satan) and gave birth to two seed lines: Cain, the direct descendant of Satan and Eve, and Abel, who was of good Aryan stock through Adam. Cain then became the progenitor of the Jews in his subsequent matings with the non-Adamic races. This is referred to as the dual-seedline doctrine (the other races are considered by dual-seedliners to be descended from animals). There are other interpretations within Christian Identity, such as single-seedline doctrine, the main belief of which is that all the races are desecended from Adam and Eve, but that only whites are the chosen of God. Some believe that the Jews used to be the chosen of God and then "lost" God's choice when they failed to accept Christ, some believe they never were the chosen.

Christian Identity adherents believe the Jews are predisposed to carry on a conspiracy against the Adamic seed line and today have achieved almost complete control of the earth. (Kaplan, Radical Religion in America)


  • Hardcore Neo-Nazis reject the Christian Identity claims as absurd.
  • Christianity is a religion based on the Hebrew bible. Hardcore Neo-Nazis totally reject all things based on Hebrew values, principles and teachings. Hardcore Neo-Nazis believe that is is utterly impossible to be a Christian of any variety and a Nazi, they believe that it is impossible to be loyal to the God of the Hebrews and be loyal to the Aryan race at the same time.
  • Many Hardcore Neo-Nazis consider Christians of any sort to be Race traitors to be shunned, ridiculed and not to be trusted.

Justifying violence

A relatively new tenet gaining popularity among Christian Identity believers justifies the use of violence if it is perpetrated in order to punish violators of God's law, as found in the Bible and interpreted by Christian Identity ministers and adherents. This includes killing interracial couples, abortionists, prostitutes and homosexuals, burning pornography stores, and robbing banks and perpetrating frauds to undermine the "usury system."; Christian Identity adherents engaging in such behavior are referred to as Phineas Priests or members of the Phineas Priesthood. This is an appealing concept to some Christian Identity's members who believe they are being persecuted by the Jewish-controlled U.S. government and society and/or are eagerly preparing for Armageddon.

The end of the world and armageddon

Christian Identity believes in the inevitability of the end of the world and the Second Coming of Christ. These End Times events are seen as part of a cleansing process that is needed before Christ's 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 millennial struggle - a race war, in effect - between God's forces, the white race, and the forces of evil, the Jews and nonwhites.

The view of what Armageddon will be varies among Christian Identity believers. All contend there will be a race war in which millions will die; many 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 God's law (e.g., race-mixing and internationalism); many will perish, and some will be forced to wear the Mark of the Beast to participate in business and commerce. After the final battle is ended and God's 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.


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." (Michael Barkun, Religion and the Racist Right, Chapel Hill, N.C.: The University of North Carolina Press, 1994, pp. 60-61)

Swift 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 Swift's 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 Swift's 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 God's chosen race.


Christian Identity does not have a national organizational structure. Rather, it is a grouping of churches throughout the country which follows its basic ideology. Some of these churches can be as small as a dozen people, and some as large as the Aryan Nations church, which claims membership in the thousands, although its Idaho compound is gone.

In some states, Christian Identity followers established or took over armed citizens' militias.

Aryan Nations

The Aryan Nations (AN) is a group that adheres to the Christian Identity belief system. The group espouses hatred toward Jews, the United States federal government, blacks and other minorities. The original ultimate goal of the AN is to forcibly take five northwestern states - Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington and Montana - from the United States government in order to establish an Aryan homeland. This particular ideology is known throughout the White power movement as the Northern Migration. The AN was headquartered at Hayden Lake from the late 1970s until February 2001. Its annual World Congress attracted a number of different factions from the far right wing. The World Congress was a sort of round table to discuss Racialist issues.

The Order

Robert Jay Mathews formed a clandestine cell in part from members of Aryan Nations called The Order which committed a number of violent crimes, including murder. Their mission was to bring about a race war. Dennis McGiffen, who also had ties to the AN, formed a cell called The New Order, based on Mathews' group. The members were arrested before they could follow through on their plans to try to start a race war. Chevie Kehoe, who was convicted of three homicides, conspiracy and interstate transportation of stolen property had also spent some time at the AN compound. Buford O. Furrow, Jr., the man accused of the August 10, 1999, shooting at the Jewish Community Center in Los Angeles, California, also spent some time at the AN compound working as a security guard.

See also

External links


  • Michael Barkun Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill NC (1994), ISBN 0807844519
  • 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
  • Jeffrey Kaplan, Radical Religion in America, Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1997, p. 47-48)



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