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Christian Fundamentalism and White Supremacy
 
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Published: 18 years ago
 

Christian Fundamentalism and White Supremacy


CHRISTIAN IDENTITY: Religion, Racism, and White Supremacy
David Lethbridge

Christian Identity - also known as Kingdom Identity, or the Christian Israel movement - is a racist variant of fundamentalist Christianity that unites a number of factions of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, neo-fascists, extreme right survivalists, armed paramilitary militias, Holocaust-deniers, fundamentalist home-schooling advocates, and grassroots tax revolt activists.

It is a particularly dangerous strain within contemporary extreme right ideology because of its proven ability both to unite diverse ultraright organizations, and to function as a religious justification for racist and fascist terror. As a form of fundamentalist Christianity, Identity appeals to potential recruits in the United States and Canada much more than in Europe where fundamentalism itself is far less widespread. Within North America however, Identity appears to be a rapidly growing movement.

Estimates of the number of Identity groups and churches vary, but an August 1994 listing of "Patriot/Israel" organizations, obtained from "Sacred Truth Ministries" in Mountain City, Tennessee, named over 800 such groups primarily located in the United States, but also including several in Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. There was also one listing in each of Northern Ireland, Finland, Iceland, Netherlands, and Hungary. Canada alone has twenty-eight listings, and we have reason to believe that this is only a partial account. Certainly the new Aryan Nations and Posse Comitatus Identity Church in Chilliwack constitutes an alarming addition to a rapidly expanding roster. It might also be noted that outside of the United States, almost all countries with Identity churches are within the former British Commonwealth.

THEOLOGY

As a variant of Christianity, the Identity movement maintains certain central theological beliefs. While the core of Identity is manifestly racist, many but not all, Identity organizations are also armed, or violent, or tend towards social violence. The relation between religious belief and social violence is neither accidental nor contingent in Identity: the potential for violence flows directly from its specific dogma. The central religious beliefs of Identity are that -

1) The Biblical, Old Testament god, or Yahweh, created a single people in his own image, the white race, sometimes referred to as the Aryans. In the language and the history of the Old Testament, they are the Israelites. Identity uses the term "Israelite people" to refer to what they think of as the white race. The word "Israel" can also refer to any country in which white people live and are dominant, or seek to be dominant. Canada or the United States may, therefore, be referred to as "Israel," and for the same reason the word "Israel" may appear in the name of an Identity group; for example, the "Church of Christ in Israel."

2) The white race, or the Aryan or Israel people, are God's Chosen People. They are the only people possessed of a spiritual dimension. The message of the Bible, of both the Old and New Testaments, is a message only for white people. Only white people have souls, or have a hope of salvation. Only white people will be resurrected and transported to heaven. The religious identity of the white people is to be found in the various covenants that the Israelites made with god, and within the various laws that Yahweh is said to have laid down for his people. On this basis, many Identity believers follow all of the dietary laws and prohibitions of the early chapters of the Bible, and the majority maintain a fundamentalist belief in the literal interpretation of Biblical texts.

3) In the view of Identity, Christ was a blond-haired, blue-eyed Israelite, with absolutely no Jewish ancestry, or any connection whatever to the Jews. To claim that Christ had a Jewish ancestry is a blasphemy of the first order; in some Identity organizations it is an unforgivable sin. A central dispute between Identity and other forms of Christian fundamentalism involves the nature of Christ's ancestry. Identity churches preach that other fundamentalist Christian churches are in the grip of a Jewish or Satanic Conspiracy when they preach that Christ was born from within the Jews, or when they maintain that the ancient Israelites were Jewish.

4) According to Identity, as the result of the Babylonian captivity and the later Roman invasion, the white people of Israel gradually became dispersed. In their migrations, they settled primarily in Northern Europe, Scandinavia, Britain, and eventually the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Because the white race are also the Aryans, the countries where they settled are known as the Aryan Nations.

5) Before the creation of Adam and Eve, the god Yahweh created a second race. These pre-Adamic people are frequently called the "Mud People" or "Mud Races" in Identity literature, and are the ancestors of all people of color: Africans, Asians, native Australians, African-Americans, and so on, are all "Mud People." In the view of Identity, these "Mud People" were intended by god to be the servants and slaves of his chosen white people. They are said to have the same ontological status as beasts of the field. They are not truly human, have no souls, and are not spiritually valued by Yahweh.

6) The third race recognized by Identity are the Jews. Unlike the white people and the so-called "Mud People", they were not created by Yahweh, but by Satan. They are not the Old Testament Israelites, but have falsely assumed that ancestry in order to hide their evil origin, and as a cover for their Satanic purposes. Because they are not Israelites, they are also not Semites, since Shem, the father of the Shemites or Semites, was himself the son of Noah, an Israelite. Therefore, Identity believers often claim - especially to outsiders - that they are not, and cannot be, anti-Semitic!

7) According to Identity, the Jews have intermarried with the Mud People, and created a variety of mixed racial groups, in order to further insinuate themselves into the human community (1) Lacking souls, or even a conscience, they are able to devote themselves fully to their true task: the destruction of Yahweh's chosen people, the Aryans. The Jews do this through any number of schemes. They attempt to pit people of color against the Aryans, causing, for example, the Civil War in the United States in order both to free the slaves - which was against Yahweh's divine plan - and to cause the death of millions of white people. The Jews are said to be behind Communism - or "Bolshevism" as they usually put it - since, in their view, the purpose of Communism is to destroy the "Christian nations." On this ground, Identity organizers attempt alliances with other anti-socialist and anti-democratic forces in North America and in Europe, and press for the eradication of the separation between Church and State.

Other aspects of the Jewish-Satanic Conspiracy involve the promotion of abortion, since the termination of pregnancy destroys white fetuses, reduces the population of the white people, and weakens the strength of Yahweh's people. Identity believers are not concerned about the abortion of people of color which they liken to "animal husbandry." In their opposition to abortion, Identity claims that most doctors who perform abortions are Jews or are under the control of Jews. Identity attempts to form alliances with fundamentalist Christian and anti-choice organizations, and have been successful in infiltrating and working with these groups.

Identity also maintains that the Jews have taken control of the media: the newspapers, radio, television, and the motion picture industry. The Jews use the media in an attempt to control the thoughts of white people, to stigmatize nationalism and patriotism, to undermine Christianity and Christian family values, to promote socialism, to falsify history, but perhaps most importantly, to spread the "myth of the Holocaust." Holocaust denial is an important tactic of Identity organizations and is one of their central links to neo-Nazism, which several Identity organizations embrace outright.

So pervasive is the Jewish conspiracy, according to Identity, that the Jews are said to have taken control of the world's banking and financial institutions and, through them, the apparatus of state and government power. Ultimately, they seek a One World Government, which Identity believers must do everything in their power to overthrow. Frequently, Identity literature refers to the government of the United States, or of Canada, as ZOG - the Zionist Occupation Government, or JOG - the Jewish Occupation Government.

8) Identity theology maintains that any intermarriage between Aryans and non-Aryans (either Mud People or Jews) yields offspring who are spiritually, mentally, and biologically degenerate. They believe that intermarriage, and by extension, non-white immigration into the Aryan Nations, is slowly polluting Aryan gene pools and destroying the white race. An Aryan who has mixed-race children (so-called "mongrels"), who marries a non-Aryan, or who even has sexual relations with a non-Aryan, is a "race traitor." Race traitors, so defined, are frequently the objects of intimidation, assault, or even murder. In the white racist state advocated by some militant Identity groups, race traitors would be summarily executed by the State.

9) Identity also maintains a strong belief in the Second Coming of Christ. Like many fundamentalist Christians, they believe that Christ will return soon and usher in the Millennium - a thousand years of Yahweh's Kingdom on earth. However, they also believe that Christ will not return until the Aryan people have done their spiritual duty and restored god's original racial plan; namely, the forcing of people of color into servitude, and the genocide of the Satanic Jews (2).

Identity recognizes, however, that the Jews will not kill themselves, nor will people of color voluntarily give themselves over to slavery. Many Identity believers are prepared for a racial holy war - or RaHoWa - as a long period of what are called "Tribulations" before Christ's ultimate return. Many Identity groups are heavily armed and engaged in weapons training, armed militias, and survivalist tactics. The bombings, assaults, and assassinations that Identity organizations have already engaged in must be understood within this religious and political context.

HISTORY

The contemporary Identity religion has its origins in the mid-nineteenth century British-Israel movement. In England, in 1871, Edward Hine published a book called Identification of the British Nation with Lost Israel, which was itself influenced by earlier, similar ideas from the 1840s. The book sold a quarter of a million copies, at a time when literacy was limited, and British-Israel was launched. British-Israel maintained that the so-called ten lost tribes of Israel had migrated westward through Europe to Britain and from there to Canada and the United States. British-Israel relied then, as now, on an idiosyncratic reading of history and etymology. The word "Britain," for example, was said to derive from the Hebraic word "berit-ish", translated as "man of the covenant;" the word "Saxon" was said to derive from "Isaac's Sons."

Anti-Semitism was present in British-Israel from the beginning. John Wilson, one of British-Israelism's earliest theoreticians, claimed that modern Jews were the result of intermarriage between Biblically proscribed heathen races, in particular, the tribes of Edom and Canaan, and that they had "inherited the curse of both." Some later British-Israelites claimed that the Jews were the descendants, not of Israel, but of the Khazars - a Mongol people living in southern Russia near Turkey. The Khazars were traced back through the Kingdom of Judah, to Cain, whose father was Satan himself. God's biblical blessings were alleged to be directed toward Israel; God's curses to the Jews (3).

The pronounced racism of Identity was also present in embryo in British-Israelism. The identity of the lost tribes of Israel was characterized as a racial identity. Israel is a race and a "seed line." The blessings and promises of God fall upon Israel as a race, and not upon other races. The seed line must be protected from races not blessed by God; races who are, therefore, racially inferior. Such beliefs were particularly appealing in certain British circles as offering a religious justification for the brutal force used to establish the British Empire. If they were, as they believed, God's chosen race, then their every activity had God's blessing. The reference in the biblical book of Genesis to a blessed "company of nations" was taken as a prophecy of the establishment of the British Empire.

According to British-Israel, because the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic peoples are the direct racial descendants of Israel - are, in fact, Israel - the second coming of Christ would occur in England. England would be the New Jerusalem, and Christ would rule from the British throne. Indeed, the British monarchy was thought to be the direct descendant of the royal line of the biblical King David.

The British-Israel movement entered North America through a number of routes. It developed a substantial following in Ontario, New York, Michigan, and Vancouver. While British-Israelism appears to have been enthusiastically embraced by white supremacists and anti-Semites throughout North America, there is evidence that by the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan in Oregon had become heavily influenced by British-Israelism, and that Portland, Oregon became a major center of mutual influence between the two groups. From Portland, Klan leaders began to make contact with British-Israel in Washington and Vancouver. Already, British-Israelism was beginning to mutate into Identity.

In Canada, the British-Israel movement split into two factions; the dominant circle based in Toronto, and another, more isolated, section based in Vancouver. Perhaps spurred by the interest of the Portland Klan, the Vancouver group developed a network of connections all down the west coast in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California. The books and pamphlets produced in Vancouver began to elaborate a strongly anti-Semitic position, and made increasing reference to an international Jewish conspiracy. The Jews were now alleged to be at the root of countless evils, including both Communism and atheism. In the early 1940s, Clem Davies, a British-Israel preacher from Victoria, arrived in Los Angeles. Davies had a history of involvement in the Ku Klux Klan, and was openly sympathetic to British fascism, and to the American pro-Hitler Silver Shirts. It was in California in the 1940s that Identity finally emerged from British-Israelism as a separate entity.

Among the circle of pro-Nazi, pro-fascist, anti-Semitic, and Ku Klux Klan elements that gathered together in Los Angeles, it was Gerald L. K. Smith who finally cemented the theology of British-Israel to the politics of fascism. A one-time confidant of Huey Long, the populist governor of Louisiana, Smith has been described as "the most prominent anti-Semite in America." His importance in the history of Identity is seminal. Certainly extreme-right politics were as important to him as religion. Certainly he was a brilliant organizer. And certainly it was his coalition with the Klan organizer and racist preacher Wesley Swift that set the course for Identity in North America. Although Smith and Swift worked together within the Identity movement for some twenty years, it was shortly after meeting Smith, in 1948, that Swift founded the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, later to become notorious as the most significant and dangerous Identity organization of the contemporary period: the Aryan Nations.

The years 1950 to 1975 can be characterized as one of slow but steady growth. It was during this time that Identity organizations began to be established across the United States and to make strong linkages with the emergent neo-Nazi movement. There is some evidence that Wesley Swift himself attempted a political merger with George Lincoln Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi Party. By 1980, the major contemporary Identity organizations were all established and flourishing, and the racial, religious, and social violence, always implicit in Identity, had become a reality.

ORGANIZATIONS

The Aryan Nations, headed by Richard Butler, holds a unique place in the history of organized racism. Butler was introduced to Wesley Swift in 1963, and took over the Church of Jesus Christ Christian on Swift's death, moving it from California to Hayden Lake, Idaho. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Aryan Nations led the drive within Identity toward increased militancy and armed resistance. Butler was the first to press for an all-white nation within North America, a "territorial imperative" that includes, at a minimum, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Montana, interior British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and western Manitoba. The fact that there are Aryan Nations outposts in the southern and east-central areas of the United States, indicates, however, that the territorial imperative claimed by Aryan Nations may, in fact, be more extensive (4).

Butler's vision of an all-white nation appeals to large sectors of the extreme right. Aryan Nations was able to form a volatile merger of neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi skinheads, survivalists, and Identity churches, and became the unifying force of white supremacy as a political movement. Besides holding annual conferences and congresses of major far-right leaders, it publishes and distributes a wide variety of racist and fascist literature, organizes both convicts and prison guards, and has contacts with neo-Nazis in Germany and throughout Europe.

At least two ultra-violent groups have been spawned from within Aryan Nations: The Order, and The Order II. The first Order was led by Bob Mathews, and engaged in an 18-month terrorist wave of armed robberies and assassinations. Of the four million dollars stolen by The Order, most was never recovered. It is believed to have been distributed to help purchase weapons and otherwise finance white racist groups across North America. Bob Mathews himself was shot to death in 1984 by FBI agents on Whidbey Island, Washington, and he has become a hero and martyr among white racists throughout the continent. Partly as a result of the activities of The Order, Butler and 9 other leading white supremacists and neo-fascists were tried by the US government, in Fort Smith, Arkansas, for treason and sedition. Oddly enough, the prosecution failed to make its case, despite a wealth of evidence.

In 1993, the Tacoma, Washington, and Sacramento, California offices of the NAACP were bombed, and an extensive list of military bases, synagogues, black churches, and African-American leaders were targeted for bombing or assassination. The terrorists charged or implicated in this new wave of violence included neo-Nazis with the American Front, a neo-Nazi skinhead group intimately associated with Aryan Nations.

In 1994, despite rumors in some quarters that Aryan Nations was in decline, the largest gathering in their history met to celebrate Hitler's birthday. Skinhead bands played for the first time, and a dozen new state headquarters were established. Only six months later, a new Aryan Nations outpost was established in BC. Speakers from virtually all of the most important Klan and Nazi groups attended, as did Tony McAleer of Vancouver's Canadian Liberty Net. Most importantly, Louis Beam - perhaps the most significant organizer on the extreme right, with membership in both the Klan and Aryan Nations - called for a new strategy of "Leaderless Resistance." In essence, this tactic calls for the establishment of innumerable small cells of terrorists to go underground and commit acts of violence designed to provoke a white-racist seizure of state power. Identifiable groups and leaders would be abandoned in favor of these miniature groups operating without direct command, but united by a common ideology and purpose. Details of the new strategy remain unclear, but the broad outline suggests a policy of increasing violence culminating in a new fascist dictatorship.

Another early associate of Wesley Swift, was Identity preacher William Potter Gale. It was Gale who introduced Butler to Swift, and while Butler was developing the Aryan Nations, Gale was helping to create the Posse Comitatus, along with Henry Beach, formerly of the pro-Nazi Silver Shirts.

"Posse Comitatus" means "power of the county" in Latin, and Posse members claim to be subject to no power above that of the county. They maintain that state and federal governments are forms of the Zionist Occupation Government (ZOG), and that it is treasonous to follow their laws. For some years the Posse operated mostly in the West and mid-Western US, but has recently expanded throughout the East. They are primarily a de-centralized organization of member groups, whose activities have ranged from anti-tax movements, through to armed robberies, assaults, death threats, and murders. Members of the Posse are believed to be associated with the new far-right United States Taxpayers Party, based in Ohio.

In the 1980s, James Wickstrom became the major Identity preacher in the Posse, and has been one of the most virulently anti-Semitic and white racist organizers operating today. Wickstrom's sermons and literature have advocated guerrilla warfare, paramilitary training, and the lynching of Jews, Communists, and all opponents of the Posse. Wickstrom published a regular periodical called the Posse Noose Report which featured a hangman's rope as a logo. One of Wickstrom's close associates in Kansas, Mike Ryan, had 50 automatic and semi-automatic weapons, 150,000 rounds of ammunition, and a library of Wickstrom tapes on his farm when he was arrested for the torture - killings of a five-year-old boy and a young man in his twenties. After serving a short jail term for impersonating a public official, Wickstrom moved to western Pennsylvania, where he set up the "Church of Christ in Israel;" a church which includes the Canadian Identity pastor and militia advocate, Charles Scott.

It would, of course, be impossible to detail the scores of Identity groups currently operating but, besides Aryan Nations and Posse Comitatus, among the most significant are the Christian Defense League; the LaPorte Church of Christ; and the Phineas Priesthood.

Wesley Swift and William Potter Gale were also connected to the founding of the Christian Defense League, which has been led since the 1970s by James K. Warner. Warner is a former Klansman and an ex-officer in the American Nazi Party. After moving the CDL to Louisiana, he expanded the Identity organization to include the New Christian Crusade Church, and the Sons of Liberty, the book publishing division of the CDL. Warner's organization has worked closely with David Duke, the neo-fascist politician. The CDL publishes both the CDL Report, and Christian Vanguard, widely read anti-Semitic and Holocaust-denial periodicals.

Pete Peters runs the LaPorte Church of Christ, in Colorado. Peters has taken the Identity message to AM and FM radio, and to short-wave. His expensive and powerful broadcast system allows him to beam his message to every state in the US, and into Canada. A recent catalog which we obtained from Peters' "Scriptures for America" advertises 623 audiotapes, 130 videotapes, 22 pamphlets, and 75 books, which is a substantial publication list. Peters' material is the usual racist Identity message, and includes such books as Death Penalty for Homosexuals is Prescribed in the Bible. It is difficult to exaggerate Peters importance in the Identity movement today. Not only did he perform religious services for the Order, on the eve of their murderous terrorist campaign, but Peters organized the October 1992 meeting of over 160 major Identity, white supremacist, and neo-Nazi leaders, in Estes Park. While the minutes of this extraordinary meeting are unavailable, it is widely believed that much of the contemporary extreme-right strategy was elaborated at that time.

The Phineas Priesthood is not so much important in itself, but for what it may represent. Unlike other Identity groups, they appear to publish no literature, to attend no Identity conferences, to offer no church services, and to operate entirely underground. So secret and shadowy are they, that they did not come to light until 1991, when its leader was arrested following a series of interstate bank robberies. The stolen money was used to buy weapons, and group members are stockpiling arms to finance a white power overthrow of the US government. The Phineas Priesthood considers its particular role to be god's executioners for race traitors. At this point it is unknown how many members it has, or how many, if any, executions it has engaged in, or if indeed it continues to exist in its original form. Besides the purchase of weapons on the black market, and from foreign countries, Identity groups are known to steal weapons from the US armed forces. Identity members are encouraged to join the armed forces in order to be trained in the use of more sophisticated weapons. It is believed that weapons are hidden on farms and out-buildings across the US and Canada.

But perhaps the most alarming trend in Identity has been the development of the armed militia movement over the last year or so. This is a very recent phenomenon which we have yet to fully penetrate. These civilian militias are fertile recruiting grounds for new members into the armed wing of Identity. States with known militias tied to Identity include Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Idaho, Montana, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Some of these states have more than one such militia, and these militias are interconnected at a high level. Among the leaders of this branch of the Identity movement are John Trochmann, of the Militia of Montana; Tom Stetson, of the Christian Patriots of Idaho (both connected to Aryan Nations); James Wickstrom; August Kreis III, of Pennsylvania; and Red Beckman of Montana, a veteran tax protester, who has written that the Holocaust was god's punishment of the Jews for worshipping Satan. These militias are also connected to non-Identity white supremacists and neo-Nazis. At this moment there are a minimum of 33 such militia operating today, and it is impossible to exaggerate the danger that they pose.

IN CANADA

The contemporary Identity movement in Canada can be traced back to at least the early 1980s. At that time, Terry Long became not only leader of Aryan Nations in Alberta, but was ordained as national leader of the organization by Richard Butler in Idaho. Recently, Long resigned his position and returned to Alberta after living in hiding in an Aryan Nations off-shoot compound in Missoula, Montana. Carney Nerland, a professed neo-Nazi and member of the Ku Klux Klan, was leader of Saskatchewan's Aryan Nations prior to his involvement in the murder of Cree trapper, Leo Lachance. Lester Morris, of Langley, BC, was head of the Aryan Nations in BC, and attended rallies and conferences at Aryan Nations headquarters in Idaho. There appears to be no recent intelligence on Morris, and he may have become inactive in recent years. Yvonne Platt, of Arburg, Manitoba, appeared to have been groomed to become Manitoba leader, but the evidence for her leadership is unclear. Certainly Edgar Foth, of the Aryan Nation's splinter group, The Order, is living in Canada.

In 1994, Charles Scott established a combined Aryan Nations and Posse Comitatus formation in Chilliwack, BC, called the Church of Christ in Israel. Scott actively recruited both in the community at large, and especially among youth, for which he was awarded that status of "Aryan of the Year" in 1995, in Hayden Lake. Certainly the nature of the leaflets he has been distributing indicates the range of Identity concerns and connections. His pamphlets have featured Holocaust-denial, anti-Semitic, white supremacist, anti-abortion, anti-homosexual, and pro-fascist themes. His material has been printed by Aryan Nations, Posse Comitatus, and the SS Action Group, from Dearborn, Michigan.

Scott has received strong support from August Kreis III, a former Klansman, and intimate of James Wickstrom, who operates the Church of Christ in Israel, and is himself involved in the militia movement. Kreis has threatened to send armed militia members from Washington, Idaho, and Montana across the border to assist Scott if he is any way harassed. In a letter supporting Scott, Kreis threatens that non-whites will become "cannon fodder" if they do not leave Canada, decries the evils of race-mixing, maintains that Jews are Satanic, and suggests that Jewish children will be destroyed by having their heads "dashed against stones."

Other organizations connected to the Aryan Nations include Vancouver's Canadian Liberty Net, and the Aryan Resistance Movement, based in Surrey. The Liberty Net's founder, Tony McAleer, has frequently attended Aryan Nations Congresses in Idaho. The pro-Hitler, neo-Nazi, Aryan Resistance Movement, once headquartered in Mission, BC, has in the last few years spread across Canada, even into the Maritimes. Aryan Resistance Movement members have attended Aryan Nations Congresses, and have a history of assault and violence. A rock group from within ARM, known as Odin's Law, is actively spreading anti-Semitism and white supremacy among the youth. The Ku Klux Klan in Manitoba has connections to Aryan Nations and is itself an Identity organization. The leader of the Manitoba Klan, Bill Harcus, learned Identity teachings at churches in such small communities as Stonewall, and in the St. James region of Winnipeg.

Outside of the Aryan Nations movement in Canada, there are numerous other Identity groups, as well as British-Israel organizations in Vancouver, Nelson, Calgary, Windsor, Toronto, and other locations. While some of these groups sell Identity literature, even material declared to be hate literature by Customs and Excise, others sell only the less militant British-Israel literature. Even non-Identity British-Israel material, however, supports apartheid, and has maintained that non-whites must not be permitted to govern, rule over, or cohabit with Israelites.

Furthermore, there are organizations whose primary focus may not be Identity, but who are supportive of Identity positions. Two examples are the Canadian League of Rights, and the Council On Public Affairs. The Canadian League of Rights (CLR), formerly based in Flesherton, Ontario, and now of High River, Alberta, have an estimated national membership of over 10,000. CLR speakers criss-cross the country repeatedly and sell a variety of Identity, Posse Comitatus, Holocaust-denial, and anti-Semitic literature. They have world-wide anti-Semitic and pro-fascist connections. In 1984, for example, the CLR sponsored a tour of BC and Alberta by Jack Mohr, who is a major Identity paramilitary leader from Mississippi, with strong connections to a variety of extreme white racist figures. Among other locations, Mohr was the invited speaker at the fundamentalist Christian Cornerstone Academy, in Abbotsford, where the school principal had his grade twelve social studies class attend the meeting. Mohr's pamphlets continue to appear across BC.

In Salmon Arm, BC, an anti-Semitic group called the Council On Public Affairs, well-connected to the Canadian League of Rights, supports Identity views. Indeed the CPA itself is listed as an Identity organization by the Sacred Truth Ministries of Tennessee, which is in turn advertised by the CPA. Further, Leonard Saunders, second in command of the CPA, ran a group called the Canadian Resistance Movement, which was listed as Identity by the pro-Nazi Truth At Last newspaper from Louisiana. The CPA publishes a monthly periodical, called the Council On Public Affairs Digest, with a circulation of 12,000. The Digest regularly reprints Holocaust-denial, white supremacist, anti-Semitic, and pro-fascist literature. On its editorial board is long-term racist Eustace Mullins of Virginia, who professes a number of Identity positions, and meets with Richard Butler, Pete Peters, Jack Mohr, and other Identity notables at Identity conferences. Mullins is a prolific writer of hate literature, including his New History of the Jews which asserts the claim that Jewish leaders kidnap Christian children and drink their blood. Other literature distributed by the CPA includes Last Battle Cry, an Identity text by the foremost American Identity theologian, Jarah Crawford, who advocates the extermination of both Jews and homosexuals.

British-Israel and Identity organizations, and many other groups supportive of Identity, promote their views across the country in the form of leaflets, books, audiotapes and videotapes. These organizations work together with various degrees of intimacy and objectively lay the groundwork for the emergence of the most militant expressions of Identity in such violent groups as the Aryan Nations. The organizational infrastructure clearly involves a web of interrelated formations across the United States and Canada. But how can we understand this movement and the purposes it serves?

TOWARD A MARXIST ANALYSIS


The hateful religion of Christian Identity is, at root, only a religious reflection of British and American economic, political, and cultural imperialism. Such a religious perversion could only develop among nations that believe global domination is their right.

Marx and Engels laid the groundwork for understanding that all religion is a form of social consciousness that reflects the prevailing economic basis of a society. The form in which religion manifests itself is a reflection of a specific economic foundation and at the same time a reflection of the political relations which are themselves a mirror of the same economic basis. The rigid hierarchy - both terrestrial and spiritual - of the Catholic Church under feudalism reflected with precision the rigid and dominative hierarchy of feudal economics and politics. The emergence of the Protestant Churches were at least a partial reflection of the bourgeois individualism of early capitalism: both religion and politics reflecting an individualist, unmediated relation to both god and state.

At the time of the emergence of British-Israel, the late nineteenth century, the earlier phases of capitalism were giving way to its highest stage - imperialism; and Great Britain was the prototype imperialist nation. The British Empire was at its height. The ideology of the wealthy exploiting classes of Britain included their belief that they had a right to rule other nations, to exploit their resources, to oppress and enslave their populations. Not only did the imperialists believe their Christianity was superior to other religions, but they believed they were an innately superior culture, with an innately superior people. Under such conditions, it is little wonder that certain circles in Britain began to believe that their god, Christ, had come to visit England in those early years of his life about which the New Testament is silent. It is little wonder too, that such circles came to believe that Christ had a special relationship with England. The British had made themselves their own "Chosen People" through their cultural and economic imperialism; surely it must have been possible that their ancestors were the blessed "ten lost tribes of Israel." Within such a context, British-Israelism provided them with a religious justification for their imperialist activities.

Similarly, the development of British-Israel into the more militant Identity movement began with the emergence of American Imperialism in the late 1930s and 1940s. As US capitalist corporations began to dominate the global market, American culture came to see itself as the dominant global culture. Based on a history of slavery, widespread racist attitudes gave rise to the emergence of a thoroughly racist religion. It would seem almost inevitable that the white racism of American culture, expressed most militantly through the Ku Klux Klan, would find common cause with a religion that spoke of the special status of the "white race" and of their spiritual "manifest destiny." The reactionary nature of Identity looks backward with nostalgia to the period of slavery in the United States - a time when God's Country obeyed what Identity believes to be God's law of racial dominance.

As the economic crisis of the 1980s began to expand, so too did the Identity movement. Unable to believe that any project of the innately superior white race could falter - such as imperialist capitalism - Identity began to look for external causes for failure. The old enemy and scapegoat of Christianity, the Jews, were claimed to be undermining the traditionally racist dominative relations between whites and African-Americans. Based on both traditional American anti-Semitism, and the ideology and history of Nazism, Identity emerged into its present form as a reflection of the most extreme possiblity of capitalist relations - the fascist state.

To go beyond this brief sketch to a fuller understanding of Christian Identity, we need to understand the broader significance of religious fundamentalism, how it emerges from the socio-economic substructure, and to which needs it appears to appeal. It is by no means an exaggeration to say that a terrifying political danger arises from a potential alliance between Identity and the larger fundamentalist movement - an alliance which has already begun in earnest. We need also to understand Identity's historical and contemporary internal connections to Nazi ideology, particularly given the continuing growth of neo-fascism both in North America and in Europe. What's more, we need to understand what forces in the political state it serves - and equally, which it does not - and how and by whom it is financed.

More to the point, at the same time as we are seeking a deeper understanding of Christian Identity, we must neither forget nor fail to combat its every manifestation. Identity is not a religious curiosity, it is a racist and fascist political movement. Our task is to defeat it.

 

 
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