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The Northwest Imperative:Documenting a Decade of Hate
Chapter 3: Christian Identity -- Kingdom of Hate (introduction)

July, 1992. A cool summer evening near Hayden Lake, Idaho. The quiet
serenity of this mountain resort grudgingly yields to a gathering of
some 200 men and women who fill a five-acre clearing in the woods.
They assemble in a large, menacing circle around a century-old symbol
of racist violence and terror: a burning cross. As a flaming torch
ignites the diesel-soaked wooden planks and the night sky erupts with
dancing light the Idaho air is choked with hate. 

In decades past most of the attendees at such gatherings would don the
traditional hoods and gowns of the Ku Klux Klan. Tonight, however, the
dress of choice is casual: blue jeans and flannel shirts, skirts and
blouses. The ranks of modern hate groups have been swelled with a new
breed of passionately religious men and women from modest backgrounds.
Israel's Children. Yahweh's blessed. 

The followers of Identity Christianity.

As the flames die and midnight approaches, an aging patriarch with the
deeply furrowed face of an old-growth Douglas fir manages a contented
smile. He is pleased with the weekend's events that culminated in the
ceremonial cross burning. The many young people who had traveled from
as far away as Las Vegas, Nevada to attend give him hope that a new
generation of Aryan warriors will carry on his vision of a Northwest

The participants begin to filter back through the woods to cars and
trailers with license plates that designate their homes: Montana,
Canada, Washington, California and Oregon. A small group of skinheads
make their way to an old weather-worn hall they dub the "barracks" to
swig their last beer of the weekend. Another group of men take up
guard posts for the remainder of the evening, two of them stationed
next to a sign painted with the message "WHITES ONLY." 

The scene is the closing ceremony of the 1992 Aryan World Congress
sponsored by the Hayden Lake, Idaho-based Church of Jesus Christ
Christian-Aryan Nations. The aging patriarch is Richard Girnt Butler,
who has convened these annual gatherings for more than a decade. In
the organization's fifteen-year history in the Pacific Northwest, it
has become the most notorious representative of Identity
Christianity-the religion of the white supremacist movement. 

Racists and anti-Semites fill the ranks of Identity churches. But many
followers do not display their bigotry in a manner as overt as
gathering about a burning cross. A common feature of many Identity
organizations is that they appear just that: common. Their Christian
devotion can be virtually indistinguishable from the worship practiced
by fundamentalist Christians. In order to draw an accurate portrait of
Christian Identity followers we could just as well peer into a small
suburban church on the outskirts of Spokane, Washington. There a
pleasant, elderly preacher addresses a hundred or so church-goers. The
men sport polyester and cotton slacks, button-down shirts and ties,
the women are in flower print dresses. The flock sing hymns, devour a
potluck lunch and hear an announcement for an upcoming car-wash to
benefit the church. At first glance we have happened upon nothing more
than Sunday morning worship. 

At some point in the pastor's sermon the flock is referred to as the
"elect." Members are urged to rejoice in the rediscovery of their
historically suppressed "Identity" as the "Children of Israel."
Fundamentalists like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are denounced for
speaking of a "Judeo-Christian" heritage. For the pastor at our
hypothetical suburban Identity Church, to speak of a relationship
between Christianity and Judaism is blasphemy. 

Then again, the majority of Identity believers can be found attending
small gatherings of five to ten people in the home of one of the
members. Participants at such gatherings, referred to as
"fellowships," read the Bible together, share their troubles and
hopes, and sing of a new day when the true "Israelites" will finally
cross the River Jordan, obey their Lord and drive out His enemies. 

A composite portrait of Christian Identity must also include the scene
of a wooded area-perhaps in Montana or Northern California-where a
half-dozen young men dressed in army fatigues train with automatic
weapons. They will take a blood oath and commit themselves to becoming
"Phineas Priests,"Christian Identity assassins dedicated to racist and
anti-Semitic murder as God's highest calling. 

As the umbrella religion for the white supremacist movement, Identity
Christianity provides meaning for its followers. That meaning involves
a Biblical justification for racism and bigotry. Even murder. 

The Theology of Hate
Christian Identity believers use the Bible to rationalize their racist
and anti-Semitic bigotry. The core beliefs of Christian Identity can
be summarized as follows. White Northern Europeans are the Israelites
of the Bible and, through Christ, the rightful heirs to a white,
Christian "Kingdom of God" to be established on earth. Jews are
impostors, false "chosen people," and are often believed to be
"children of Satan" involved in a global conspiracy to destroy the
white race. People of color are inferior and destined to a subordinate
position in the "kingdom," if they are allowed in at all. 

To understand the implications of these racial beliefs it is useful to
compare Identity beliefs with those of evangelical Christianity
concerning the important area of the "End Times." 

The End Times, sometimes referred to as the "Latter Days," are
associated with the Second Coming of Christ and the time immediately
preceeding the Second Coming. Within Christianity beliefs about the
End Times, technically described as an eschatology, are divided into
three general categories: pre-millennial, post-millennial and
a-millennial. The millennium is a period of time, generally thought of
as one thousand years in length, during which peace and harmony reign
over the entire Earth. The prefixes "pre-," "post-" and "a-" refer to
the timing of the Second Coming. Three key concepts associated with
the millennium are: the Tribulations, Dispensationalism, and the

The Tribulations, or time of troubles, are a period of suffering,
upheaval, sorrow, war and natural disaster. 

Dispensationalism refers to the belief in a divine dispensation or
ordering of events by God in a predetermined manner unaffected by and
independent of human agency. 

The Rapture is an event in which all living believers are transformed
and ascend to dwell with Christ until his Second Coming. Depending on
the particular eschatological variation, the Rapture can occur before
the Tribulations (pre-Tribulation or pre-trib), during the
Tribulations (mid-Tribulation or mid-trib), or after the Tribulations
(post-Tribulation or post-trib). 

In post-millennial eschatologies, Christ does not return to Earth
until the end of the millennium, signalling the end of history and the
beginning of his kingdom. For post-millennialists human agency-the
actions of the church, governments and individual believers-are vital
in bringing about the millennium which is thought of as an expression
of God's Kingdom.1 In this view Tribulations are thought of not as a
specific time, but as the trials of existence common to all life in
the flesh. Since human agency is key to bringing about the millennium,
the establishment of God's Kingdom is not seen as a specific
dispensation. Similarly, since Christian believers are the ones
responsible for bringing about the millennium, it would not work if
they were whisked away in a Rapture, leaving no one to establish the
Kingdom on Earth. 

In a-millennial eschatology, there is no millennium, no reign of peace
and harmony, rather human existance, more-or-less as is, continues
right up to the time of the Second Coming when Christ returns to make
his final judgments. Though there are no specifically millennial
Tribulations, a-millennialists often see tribulation-like troubles as
the continuing judgments of God on the unrighteous. In the
a-millennial view the Second Coming itself is a dispensation, an event
ordered by God unaffected by human agency, but believers can effect
the interim judgments through their actions. Of course with neither
millennium nor Tribulations, there is no reason for a Rapture. 

Pre-millennial eschatology holds that the Tribulations are a very
specific period, often seven years in duration, during which the Earth
will be wracked with disaster and political upheaval. Most Protestant
fundamentalist and evangelical Christians in the United States are
pre-millennialist, and most believe in a pre-Tribulation Rapture. This
order of events is dispensational and not effected by human agency.
For these believers, Christ returns and sets things to right,
establishing the millennium of his Kingdom on Earth which is followed
by the Eternal Kingdom. 

Many Identity believers share the pre-millennial, dispensationist view
which developed in 19th Century American evangelical circles, but most
reject the idea of the Rapture, often referring to it as a "Jewish
Hoax." In Identity circles prophesies of an impending apocalypse are
often tied to financial instabilities, changes in weather patterns and
natural disasters as well as news that relates to the geo-political
position of the state of Israel. 

In most Identity theology, the period of tribulations builds to a
racial Armageddon, or genocidal war, and the "Second Coming of Christ"
is invariably equated with an outpouring of violence against Jews,
people of color and other racial enemies. Identity religious leaders
often include explicit descriptions of the total destruction of people
of color, Jews, liberals and other people deemed "God's enemies." 

Rather than holding that a Rapture of believers will remove them from
the tribulations, most attack this belief as a conspiracy aimed at
keeping white people docile and unaware of their rightful place as
heirs to a white Kingdom of God. 

In the words of Spokane, Washington Identity figure Karl Schott: 

There are few ministers who understand the gospel of the Kingdom, and
one reason for this is that, during their time in Bible College, they
were taught that the Jews are Israel and also the erroneous rapture
theory, which nullify much of the Kingdom promises made to the
Israelites (the peoples of Anglo-Saxondom today)x. The rapture theory,
as well as the theory that Jews are Israel, cancel out all the Kingdom
Parables which tell us that the wicked shall be tied in bundles and
cast out of the Kingdom, and that the righteous shall then shine

While Identity believers share common ground on many social issues
with the Religious Right (e.g. opposition to abortion, gay and lesbian
rights, "secular humanism" and liberalism and support for "traditional
family values"), they reserve special condemnation for non-Identity
Christian conservatives, whom they consider pawns of the Jewish
conspiracy. Identity leaders routinely launch malicious attacks on
mainstream Protestant, Catholic and fundamentalist believers, citing
efforts to build ecumenical relations between Jews and Christians,
support for racial equality and a lack of criticism of the state of
Israel as evidence that Jews secretly control mainstream Christian
churches. The vicious anti-Semitism that permeates the Identity
movement is often at the core of these attacks on mainstream Jews and
Christians, as one Northwest Identity leader makes clear: 

Judeo-Christianity is a lie from the pit of Babylonian Hellx.
Judeo-Christianity is an oxymoron. You can't link two absolute
opposites together with a hyphen and create a new entityx. Judaism is
the pinnacle of filth, occultism and everything that's evil. You are
either a Christian following Christ or a Jew following the Satanic
religion of Judaism.3 

Northwest History

The roots of Identity Christianity in the Pacific Northwest are found
in British Israelism, a little-known religious movement that grew
significantly towards the end of the 19th Century. British Israelism
promoted the idea that the "Lost Tribes of Israel" mentioned in the
Bible were actually the people of Northern Europe-particularly white
Anglo-Saxons. For British Israelites the "Tribes" migrated throughout
the centuries, eventually forming nation-states of Europe. 

Though originating in Europe, British Israelism has had North American
adherents. A notable early leader was C.A.L. Totten, who published a
periodical titled Our Race and influenced movement leaders such as
J.H. Allen and Frank Sanford, founder of the Shiloh Bible school.4 

One early British Israelite in the Pacific Northwest was Reuben H.
Sawyer, a Portland, Oregon clergyman who in the early 1920s
established the Anglo-Israel Research Society, supported a bookstore
and helped operate a speakers bureau to promote British Israelism.
Sawyer played a role in the formation of the British Israel World
Federation, an international umbrella group formed in 1919 with its
base in London, England. From 1921 to 1924 Sawyer was active in the Ku
Klux Klan in Oregon, working closely with Oregon leader Fred Gifford
to broaden public appeal for the group. He also headed up the Klan
women's auxiliary, the Ladies of the Invisible Empire (known as
"LOTIES"). Sawyer lectured extensively throughout the Pacific
Northwest, leaving his pastorate in 1921 to devote his full attention
to promoting British-Israelism.5 

In the late 1920s and 1930s British Israelism in America was dominated
by the Anglo-Saxon Federation based in Detroit, Michigan. The group
was founded by William Cameron, author of the anti-Semitic diatribeThe
International Jew: The World's Foremost Problem, millions of copies of
which were published and distributed by auto manufacturing magnate
Henry Ford.6 Along with Howard Rand, Cameron built the organization
and its publication Destiny into the premiere vehicle of British
Israelism in the United States, influencing such noted racists and
anti-Semites as Silver Shirt leader William Pelley, Gerald L.K. Smith
and Gerald Winrod.7 

Wesley Swift and Bertrand Comparet became the most influential early
proponents of what can rightly be termed Christian Identity in the
United States. In the late 1940s Swift formed the Church of Jesus
Christ Christian which provided a vehicle for the expansion of
Christian Identity nationwide from California to Florida. He also
helped build other racist organizations, including the California
Rangers and the Christian Defense League and provided training for
future leaders in the racist movement.8 

Among Swift's early supporters were several who went on to play
leading roles in the racist movement. William Potter Gale, a former
U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel under Douglas McArthur became the
co-founder of the violent Posse Comitatus.9 James K. Warner, the
one-time editor of the National Socialist White People's Party tabloid
The National Socialist Bulletin became National Information Director
and Louisiana Grand Dragon in David Duke's Knights of the Ku Klux

Another early leader was a man by the name of Richard Girnt Butler who
would take the reigns of Swift's organization and move it to Hayden
Lake, Idaho in 1979 and become the most notorious of the Christian
Identity leaders.11 

Another factor in Northwest Identity history is a series of
theological conferences sponsored by the Vancouver, British
Columbia-based British Israel Association between 1937 and 1947. Held
in Seattle in 1937, Vancouver in 1939-40, Portland in 1941-43 and Los
Angeles in 1945-47, these conferences helped forge an alliance between
the Vancouver Association and the western segment of the Anglo-Saxon
Federation. A legacy of this alliance was the loose network of British
Israel believers who remained scattered along the western Coast of
Canada and the United States and whom are the ancestors of today's
region wide development of Identity Christian organizations.12 

Profiles in Identity:

American Christian Ministries

America's Promise Ministries

Christian Israel Covenant Church

Christ's Gospel Fellowship

The Jubilee

Judah's Praise Ministries

Kingdom Covenant College

Marble Community Fellowship

Olympia Christian Fellowship

Scriptures For America



1 In North America post-millenial eschatology is most common in
Christian Reconstructionism, an extreme segment of the Christian
Right. Reconstructionists such as R.J. Rushdooney and Gary North have
played a strong role in moving the Fundamentalist community, most of
which is not Reconstructionist, to engage in political activity. There
are many parallels between Reconstructionism and Christian Identity
and a number of individuals and organizations who draw from both

2 Karl Schott,The Pathfinder (June 1985), p.1.

3 Ray C. Barker, "The Viper Connection" audio tape (Christian Israel
Covenant Church, undated [circa 1991]). Tapes available from Christian
Israel Covenant Church, 14405 Peacock Hill Ave. Northwest, Gig Harbor,
Washington 98335.

4 Michael Barkun, Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the
Christian Identity Movement (Chapel Hill & London: University of North
Carolina Press, 1994). p.19, (hereafter Religion and the Racist

5 Ibid, p.22.

6 Albert Lee, Henry Ford and the Jews (New York: Stein & Day, 1980),

7 Leonard Zeskind, The "Christian Identity" Movement: Analyzing Its
Theological Rationalization for Racist and Anti-Semitic Violence
(Atlanta: Center for Democratic Renewal, 1987), p.14, (hereafter
Christian Identity Movement).

8 Christian Identity Movement, p.14.

9 Ibid.

10 Patsy Sims, The Klan (New York: Stein & Day, 1978), p.62.

11 Christian Identity Movement, p.14.

12 Religion and the Racist Right, p.21. 

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