Christian Identity: The scary religion you don’t know about

Sadly, Michigan is home to an awful lot of racist bastards with guns.  The Hutaree group arrested in May 2010 for stockpiling guns and explosives is a pretty good example.  Once again,  Americans were shooting and plotting terrorism–and they were doing it in the name of Christianity.

To those of us who have been targeted by Christian Identity folks, this isn’t all that surprising.  Christian Identity is a particularly virulent (and violent) form of creationism and apocalyptic thinking.  It disguises racism, antisemitism, and brutality under happy, Christian sounding churches and groups. Can you spot the hate group in this line up?

  • America’s Promise Ministries
  • By Yahweh’s Design
  • Church of Jesus Christ Christian
  • Church of True Israel
  • Ecclesiastical Council for the Restoration of Covenant Israel (ECRCI)
  • Fellowship of God’s Covenant People
  • Gospel Ministries
  • House of Yahweh
  • Kingdom Identity Ministries
  • Present Truth Ministries
  • Scriptures for America Ministries
  • Tabernacle of the Phineas Priesthood
  • United Identity Church of Christ
  • United Church of YHWH
  • Yahweh’s Truth

I probably didn’t fool anyone–they are ALL recognized Christian Identity hate groups.  “Church of Jesus Christ Christian” is the new happy name of Aryan Nations.

These racists are actually a special flavor of creationist.  Here’s a brief outline of one of their core beliefs:

  • Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples (whites) are God’s real “chosen people,” and descend in an unbroken line from Adam and Eve. They are by nature a superior race.
  • Jews derive from Cain, himself the product of a sexual liaison between Eve and the Serpent (the original sin) in Eden, and so are biologically evil, the “synagogue of Satan.”
  • Non-whites are “pre-Adamic” beings, soulless and akin to the Biblical “beasts of the field.” Cain mated with these peoples to produce today’s Jews.
  • Jews are part of a Satanic plot to unite the world under a single government, to be taken over ultimately by the Devil himself. The plot is thousands of years old.
  • Whites in America (the true “House of Israel”) must battle bloodily to usher in a period of Godly rule prior to the Second Coming. That means a race war.

There are many different flavors of the Identity creation story that lays out exactly how the origins of “mud people” are separate from (white) Adam and Eve–but the gist is the same.  Jews, Folks of Color, Homosexuals, and whoever else you happen to hate today are Demonic in origin. Or soulless animals. In other-words, non-white people are literally spawn of the devil. And, so, it’s your CHRISTIAN DUTY to kill them.

Christian Identity theology neatly sews together the idea of a religious base for racism and antisemitism, and an ideological rationale for violence against non-whites and their allies.  It’s a two-fer!

You almost always see the words “paramilitary” or “militia” associated with Christian Identity believers. Why are they so often violent? Their world is an absolute dichotomy: God or Devil. Angel or Satan.
There is no nuance, no compromise, no coalition building when you see your opponent as Lucifer Incarnate.  People that oppose you are dupes. The federal government is controlled by the Devil. It’s a conspiracy you must resist–and resist violently.
Because, as mentioned above, a race war is needed to bring Christ back.  It’s even got it’s own name: RAHOWA — Racial Holy War.

Why would someone buy into this? Generally, these sorts of racist, anti-governmental groups swell when economic times are bad.  It’s a handy explanation for why there is so much Evil (and unemployment) in the world, despite the promises of a loving and caring God: the Devil is responsible.  These Christians have lost control of their lives–but they can take control back with sufficient ammunition and mayhem.

How many people believe this crap? The numbers vary hugely.  The official number floats around 45,000 or so in the US; however, those are only people that openly espouse this particular theology.  The real question is how much influence these groups wield, and how much violence they cause.  Nearly all major US terrorist incidents in the 90s–including the Oklahoma bombing and the Atlanta Olympics bombings–involved Christian Identity believers.  I started to make a list of more recent shootings, but I just got too depressed.  I just couldn’t read any more ugly, hatefilled screeds. Let’s just say, they’re still out there, and they’re still heavily armed.

I can’t say for sure that the violent rhetoric of the Christian right–and its racist expression in the Tea Party–are derived from these white-power creationists. But I sure do see a lot of echos.  And what makes me most uncomfortable is that US political conflicts are being framed as absolutes, between the godly and the godless.

I am worried.

I am also concerned about how all this hateful bloviating bleeds over into the teaching of evolution, and understanding of science.

I ran into an intriguing version of this alternate creation myth once; a student told me she wasn’t threatened by learning evolution, because that only explained how black people evolved from Apes. White folks like her, you see, were created specially.  I linked last week to a document produced by the Institute for Creation Research (you know, the guys who invented “creation science“) in which Henry Morris lamented that no one was drowning evolutionists.

As the rhetoric of the religious right gets more and more Us-vs-Them on topics like evolution or other issues, I worry that more people will adopt the absolute dichotomy of good and evil that’s made the Identity movement so disastrously violent.  Hate is the ultimate social disease, and it’s spreading.

Read more about Christian Identity:

Michigan Racist Bastards of Note (Not all Identity Christians, but still bastards)

17 thoughts on “Christian Identity: The scary religion you don’t know about

  1. I used to live up around Tigerton Dells, WI when the Militia groups were active in the early 90’s. They were/are nucking futz and scary as Hell. We pulled out of the local churches (we were still believers at the time, but I was fast becoming an atheist over what I saw up there) and basically hid from them. If you can stand it, I think the biggest website for some of these folks is Stormfront.com (.org? Not sure). You’ll want brain and eye bleach after reading that stuff. I honestly believe we’re heading for another civil war if these folks aren’t stopped soon.

    There is a fair amount of evidence that these folks, as well as neo-Nazi’s and Christian Dominionists, have infiltrated the Tea Party and the Republican Party, especially since the election of President Obama. One can also see much of the same crap in Glen Beck’s daily screeds. Glen also has all but claimed a connection to really scary Mormon “prophecies” about how the Mormon Church is going to “save the Constitution,” which are known as the “White Horse” prophecies, I think.

    My personal opinion is that these groups shold be classified as domestic terror groups and dealt with accordingly. I’m getting really worried for our democratic republic.

  2. Oh, believe me, I know all about Stormfront.

    Honestly, I do not want any more information on these assholes. I already am profoundly depressed by what I read working on this post. It was a project I started some time ago, and I wanted to finish it, because I think this is important info to share.

    But, man, I do NOT want to read any more of their hateful shit.

  3. They scare the Hell out of me, BG. They’re deadly serious fanatics. They want to make the “Handmaiden’s Tale” the reality here in the US.
    The clowns we had to deal with were the “Posse Comitatus.” Remember them? They were in major fights with the Native Americans in Northern WI when I lived up there. It was getting very ugly when we left for southern WI.

  4. OK, I haven’t commented on your site in a while, but thanks, BG, for reminding us about this still very real threat, not only against science and progress, but against us as a human race. It is frightening to know that so many people are out ther actually promoting domestic terrorism along with their very skewd beliefs and hate systems. Consider this shared.

  5. I am not religious nor do I believe in “end times” but rather just accept that each day is different so why worry. That being said howeve this growing malaise I see happening in America, more racism, misogyny and no, they are not hiding it – it is right there out in the open for all to see – I find it disturbing, disgusting and something that now I have to be even more vigilant about on the many open forums I participate on.

    I have had more than my fair share of idiots going after me on political sites but in a way I do not mind because the end result is being able to educate others that there is a growing problem in our society that I refuse to ignore.

    Thank you.

  6. I wish there were more people like you, Bug Girl: literate, thoughtful, positively outspoken, skeptical….I could go on. Thank you so much for keeping on “keeping on.” :-)

  7. BugGirl,

    I am studying a lot of this stuff right now, and I share your hesitancy to further research. I’m up to my eyes in the Turner Diaries, which is racist violence porn. Horrid. I’ll be doing a review/discussion in the next few weeks, at my new site. A lot of the strange beliefs are becoming more mainstream, which is disturbing.

    B

  8. Pingback: Bug Girl reports on a different type of infestation… « Skeptical Humanities

  9. While I have nothing against religion it was brought to my attention recently that many of the crimes against humanity in history have been done in the name of one religion or another.

  10. Christian religion is a religion of peace. There is no place for terrorist or extremists here. They should be hardly treated.

  11. {bug-girl: edited to remove links–don’t want to give these people free traffic}
    Yes Christian Identity is a very fast growing religious movement. Most of the ministries generally produce video and radio shows weekly.

    James P Wickstrom has a weekly show called Yahwehs truth.

    Pastor Eli James is another one.
    He does 5 radio shows a week
    Yahwehs Covenant People
    Voice of Christian Israel
    Christogenos (which means the genetics of Jesus Christ)
    The Restoration Hour x 2

    There are many more people producing christian identity content on the internet, but I believe Pastor Eli James is the biggest yet it was not mentioned in the round up list. His ministry is called ‘AngloSaxon Israel’.

    If anyone is wanting to research these groups, AngloSaxon Israel is the biggest on the internet.

    Another thing to mention, other ministries such as By Yahweh’s Design and many others on that list do not have churches, they simply produce material such as writings and radio broadcasts and upload them onto the internet and say that the people who listen or read the material are their congregation or flock but the important thing to note is that these people really do believe this stuff.

  12. Christianity a religion of peace.. what a joke. Christianity in the beginning was as violent as radical islam and missionary work can just as well be called jihad. Ever hear of Manifest Destiny or the White Man’s Burden?

    Xtianity is responsible for the death of 1/3 or Europeans from 3rd century ad to the 1700’s, Robspierre and communism continued its assault in genocide of “white” people/Aryans. This does not include the Dark Ages that did not use banned science, thank you xtianity, to find a cure or cause for the black plague that killed millions.

    Racism is a form of environmentalism. Why would I want to the genetics of another race to dilute or pollute the genetics of my ancestry? The same can be said of any race who has identity.

  13. Ken–you have completely missed the point.
    I am not aware of any Jews that say that non-jews are (a) not fully human; and (b) should be exterminated for the good of the world.

    How about you and your anti-semitism move along down the road?

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