Archive/File: orgs/american/christian.identity chr-iden.02 Last-Modified: 1993/11/02 THE BOSTON GLOBE, SATURDAY NOVEMBER 7, 1992 WHITE CHRISTIANITY ESPOUSED BY GROUP JDL disrupts Mansfield meeting; members embrace anti-Jewish code By James L. Franklin, Globe Staff --------------------------------- MANSFIELD - In a rented assembly hall at a campground here recently, a handful of believers with a plain-brown-wrapper of a name began what was organized as a day of prayer, education and companionship. Before two hours elapsed, the meeting of New England Concerned Christians collapsed in shouting and confusion, with the handful of participants and a smaller group of protesters from the Jewish Defense League, who entered the meeting late, calling each other haters and Nazis. The confusion afforded a look at a secretive group that promotes exclusive white Christianity. Critics say that small groups like Concerned Christians are active on the East Coast, propagating the loose-knit Christian Identity Movement. Groups like this "represent only a small fraction of the people of our country, but their voices are strident and divisive and their activities often hurtful beyond the expectation of their small numbers," says a handbook on such groups published by the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith. Increased public awareness, watchfulness by law enforcement, and dissemination of information about groups like Christian Identity are essential to "foster a national consensus that extremism will be rejected," the ADL contends. In the Western states, Identity includes groups like the Aryan Nation and The Order, whose members have been charged with bombings, assaults and murder. Both outside critics and participants at the NECC meeting describe Randall Weaver, an Idaho man charged with the fatal shooting Aug. 21 of Deputy US Marshal William Degan of Quincy, as a proponent of Identity ideas. Only a small, hand-lettered sign outside identified the 15 persons attending the seesion as New England Concerned Citizens, and the leader, Richard Messenger of Upton, reluctantly allowed a reporter to attend what he said was a private meeting. In a statement of belief he read at the meeting, Messenger said he wanted "to establish a loosely knit tie to Christians with similar beliefs `for the Glory of God, and the advancement of the Christian Faith,'" qutoing the Mayflower Compact signed by the Pilgrims on their voyage to Massachusetts. Part of his statement outlines conservative Protestant beliefs about the truth of the Bible and Christian doctrine, with an overlay of patriotic conviction about the importance of the United States. But other parts of the NECC creed clearly show the link between NECC and the ideas of Christian Identity. "I believe that an honest examination of the Bible and history shows that only the Anglo-Saxon, Scandinavian, Germanic and kindred nations are the only people who show forth the fruits of Christ in the earth," asserts a section of the creed he did not read that morning. "I believe that the people commonly called Jews are, for the most part, not God's covenant Israel, for by their fruits ye shall know them." With an audience of 15, including three young children, Messenger began by showing a videotape of the late Rev. Sheldon Emery of Phoenix, a preacher who until his death in 1986 propagated Christian Identity through his "America's Promise" radio program, conferences, videotapes and the Lord's Covenant Church in Phoenix, a congregation he founded. "The white European race" is the author of "every invention and discovery that has improved man's existence on earth," Emery says in the tape. "Only white Caucasians have claimed Jesus Christ as their God and taken to this book [the Bible]. These are God's chosen people." The meeting that morning never got to the even cruder racial and anti-Semitic slurs often heard from Identity speakers, such as the claim that the importation of African slaves to the American colonies resulted from pressure on the British king by his Jewish bankers in Holland. Instead there was impromptu prayer from Messenger and signing of hymns such as "Onward Christian Soldiers." As Messenger was about to play another videotape, five more persons arrived and a shouting match erupted. The latecomers said they were members of the Jewish Defense League, and their leader accused those present of backing violent hate groups such as The Order and the Aryan Nation. The result was a demand by the campground manager that everyone leave and hurt feelings among the participants. "I didn't see that we did anything to provoke them," complained a woman who came with her three young children. "These people are trying to keep people away from learning the truth," said a man in the group. Michael Slomich of the JDL said later that his group disrupted the meeting, because they had learned from a tipster that a reporter would attend and because they recognized one of the men attending as a Ku Klux Klan leader from New Hampshire "and we figured it was all over anyways." Slomich insisted the disruption was justified because "they were showing tapes of Jack Mohr and Pete Peters," two other Identity leaders. Although neither Mohn nor Peters were ever charged in the case, Slomich asserted they were morally responsible for the death of Alan Berg, a Denver talk show host who was murdered in 1984 by assailants linked to the order. One man who attended the NECC meeting agrred to talk, without giving his name or any identifying personal information. He describers a way of life that takes literally the idea that "Christian America " is the Israelite people, including following the dietary laws of the Old Testament, and avoiding the sin of usury by shunning banks and modern business methods, like paying employees by check rather than with cash. But he strongly objected to efforts by critics to treat everyone espousing Identity ideas as if they were part of violent groups. "To try to control us from the outside, they lump us together with people we don't associate with," he said. Hollis Mosher of Braintree, an amateur observer of extremist groups who also attended the camp meeting, said NECC is typical of the work of Christian Identity groups on the East Coast. Like a short-lived New Hampshire grouop he also learned about through the Spotlight - newspaper of the anti-Semitic, far-right Liberty Lobby - Messenger and NECC have had a few meetings and made available tapes from Identity leaders, Mosher said. Messenger responded later that the NECC is not associated with the Aryan Nation or The Order and "does not belive that the Bible justifies rascism and does not advocate violence against other peoples in any fashion but defense." In the two years Mosher says he's monitored Messenger's activities, "I have never heard them advocate violence." "It's true they're not the same as The Order ... but there is no difference in their mindset," said Mosher, who said he was going public finally "because I'm getting too old to be running around after these people." -30- Ed. note: See also Boston's Jewish Advocate, Nov 13-19, 1992, for report on same meeting. knm.
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