The Theology of Christian Identity
Identity is a quasi-theological movement of small churches, tape and book distribution houses, and radio ministries which seeks to broaden the influence of the white supremacist movement under the guise of Christianity. Because many of its core beliefs are now held by members of different Klan and neo-Nazi organizations, Identity binds the movement across the country. Instead of Mein Kampf, Identity uses the Bible as the source of its ideology. It teaches that people of color are pre-Adamic, that is, not fully human and are without souls. Identity followers believe that Jews are the children of Satan and that the white people of northern Europe are the Lost Tribes of the House of Israel.
The racial identity of the Israelites in the Old Testament is the central turning point for this quasi-religious movement--hence the name, Identity. According to Identity believers, their true lineage has been hidden for the past 2,000 years, supposedly since white people migrated out of Biblical Israel. They believe that their racial identity is important because of the fate of various racial groups during the period they refer to as the End Times. Identity groups also refer to themselves as Kingdom Identity because of their belief that the Second Coming of Christ will occur prior to the establishment of His Kingdom here on earth.
Some Christian denominations believe that true Christians will leave the earth and meet Christ at the time of the Second Coming, escaping a period of war, plagues and disasters known as the Tribulations. This process is known as the Rapture. Unlike these Christians who believe the Second Coming will occur prior to the establishment of the kingdom, the Identity movement considers the Rapture a hoax and a Jewish fable of "marshmallow Christianity." According to this reasoning, if there is no Rapture, Christians can expect to suffer through the Tribulations in order to reach the Kingdom. Identity teaches that the "elect" people of the Anglo-Saxon nations have a special role to play throughout the period of the Tribulations and until the establishment of the Kingdom.
In Identity Christianity, election is determined by race, not by the redemptive grace of God. Since many Identity believers think that humankind is now in the period of the Tribulations, current events are interpreted as the fulfillment of dire prophecies. Some believe that social security numbers and drivers licenses are the Mark of the Beast, and should not be used. The Tribulations, they believe, are divine retribution for their sins; they have sinned by allowing the stranger--Jews and others--to live amongst them. They have sinned because society allows interracial marriages. They have sinned by allowing the sodomites (homosexuals) to continue their "evil practices."
Since Identity followers believe that the Bible commands racial segregation, they interpret racial equality as a violation of God's Law. If Christian ministers advocate racial equality, they are advocating breaking God's Law. Identity and the Christian Republic The creation of a white Christian republic in the United States is a shared goal within the white supremacist movement, from the hard-core neo-Nazis of the Aryan Nations to the many Christian Patriot groups. The Identity movement provides a theological justification for this racism and breach of the constitutionally- mandated separation of church and state. For example, William Potter Gale, an influential Identity leader who died shortly after being indicted for conspiracy to kill IRS agents, wrote:
Identity, like other sections of the white supremacist movement, teaches that an international Jewish banking conspiracy if behind many of the world's events. Sheldon Emry, who led the Lord's Covenant Church in Phoenix, AZ, before his death, spelled it out for his followers:
Emry's themes are now a staple of Identity theology and form part of the basis of its appeal: America is the new Promised Land; Jews and other non-whites are aliens in this land; the Federal Reserve and interest (usury) are violations of God's law; the price that the true House of Israel pays for violating that law is dominations by the Jews. The same themes are echoed by Pete Peters, a minister of the LaPorte, CO Church of Christ. Peters believes that "Once God's laws are obeyed by His people, the body of people shall be healed. Healthy bodies throw off parasites. When there is repentance and obedience to His laws, the porno shop will no longer be on Main Street, the Jewish Hollywood filth will no longer be tolerated...the homosexual and the murderer will be removed, the Jewish banker will no longer be allowed to charge interest..."
Identity and Mass Influence
During the 1970's and early 1980's, Identity was used as a rationale to establish paramilitary survivalist camps far removed from the mainstream of society. During the 1990's, some Identity leaders have attempted to rid their movement of its paramilitary image and establish a larger following with broader influence. Chief among these Identity leaders has been Pete Peters. Peters is developing new methods for the Identity movement to expand. From his home in LaPorte, he has built a radio ministry with many followers, who regularly purchase his literature and taped sermons. Each summer Peters runs a family-style Bible camp in the Colorado Rockies. When he convened the 1990 camp almost 500 adults and small children participated. Similar events were held in 1991 and 1992. Peters also holds a regular camp session in Virginia. He has purchased 1,000 acres of land in Wyoming. In 1989, 1990 and 1991, Peters led a delegation of his followers to Washington, DC, to lobby against gun control and other issues. In November 1989, Peters led the opposition to an amendment to a Ft. Collins, CO, ordinance that would have outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation. The anti-discrimination measured failed. Although a Clergy Coalition organized to support the anti- discrimination measure, no one challenged Peter's claim to be a legitimate Christian leader of his adherence to the racist theology of Identity. As a result, Peters successfully cast himself as a community leader and gained new adherents. Peters' success has served as a model for other Identity leaders.
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