Eric Rudolph

With the capture of Eric Rudolph, the question of his motivation moves to center stage. Why attack the Olympics and abortion clinics and a gay bar? Was he following the concept of Leaderless Resistance, the Lone Wolf, or Guerrilla Warfare?  This page helps explain some of these ideas.

Christian Identity
Leaderless Resistance
Right-Wing Terrorism
Rudolph and the Army of God
The Army of God and abortion violence
Phineas Priesthood

Christian Identity

It is likely the attack on the Olympics was motivated by opposition to internationalism, global cooperation, and race-mixing.  This, along with opposition to abortion and gay rights, are core tenents of a theology called Christian Identity. Rudolph was exposed to Christian Identity in his youth, and appears to have kept in touch with others who share this worldview.

Christian Identity is a derivative and heretical form of Protestant fundamentalism that believes the US is the Biblical “Promised Land” and considers white Christians to be God’s “Chosen People.”  Michael Barkun in Religion and the Racist Right has tracked the influence of apocalyptic millennialism on major racist and antisemitic ideologues within Christian Identity, including Wesley Swift, William Potter Gale, Richard Butler, Sheldon Emry, and Pete Peters.  The most racialized version of Identity claims Jews are Satanic agents who manipulate subhuman people of color.  Karen Armstrong refers to militant Christian Identity as fascist.  Others see its most zealous wing as neonazi.

Christian Identity was a common belief in the Posse Comitatus in the 1980s and was the central belief for the Aryan Nations group based in Idaho. Aryan Nations—plural—wants to establish many racially-pure “Aryan” nations around the world. It is nationalist in desire and yet inter-nationalist in scope. Some of its followers have engaged in violence and terrorism.

Identity is a millennialist ideology that plans for an imminent apocalyptic race war, and history has proved that they act on their beliefs--making the threat of violence especially real.  Many proponents of Christian Identity seek to overthrow the “Zionist Occupational Government” or “ZOG” in Washington, DC and establish an exclusively white, Christian nation. In this ideology Jews are pictured as agents of the Antichrist who must be eliminated to prepare the way for the return of Christ.

Christian Identity uses the producerist narrative. Jews are seen as the ultimate puppet-masters among the liberal secret elites believed to be building a global new world order. People of color are the lazy parasites gnawing away at society at below, while gay men and lesbians, feminists, and abortion providers are the sinful parasites, poisoning the moral order. The left is a sinister army of subversives.

One Extreme Right hate group that follows the tenets of Christian Identity is Aryan Nations. This is the announcement they posted on their website after Rudolph was captured:


This is the headline story of today, Saturday May 31, 2003. The FBI is gloating over the fact that they finally "got their man."  Now every unsolved bombing over the past 6 years will be solved by blaming this HERO of our race.  That's right SHEEPLE I said HERO!  Let His enemies gloat for their days are numbered.  There will always be another to fill the shoes of a fallen hero.  The enemy has not won and will NEVER win for our VICTORY is preordained by our Father YHVH! So kinsman let us pray for Eric that he holds his head high in the face of adversity knowing that he will be cursed by our enemy but he will be blessed by his Father YHVH. 

Eric, our prayers are with you...

[ 6/2/2003]

Christian Identity is based on the theology of British Israelism--the principle source of materials promoting this theology for many decades was Destiny Publishers in Merrimac, Massachusetts. [ ]

For a collection of publications by Wesley A. Swift:

Sermons by Wesley Swift:

Online version of Emry's Billions for the Bankers: Debts for the People:

Phineas Priesthood

Some followers of Christian Identity see themselves as acting as agents of God through the Phineas Priesthood. The idea of exacting vengence on behalf of God is traced to a Biblical story. In recent times it is popularized by Christian Identity ideologue Richard Kelly Hoskins, who authored a book praising violence against enemies of the White race, which he saw as in the tradition of the Phineas Priesthood, for which the book was named. The book War Cycles, Peace Cycles by Hoskins was found among the belongings of  Buford O’Neal Furrow, Jr., the accused gunman in racist shootings in California.

Aryan Nations and the Phineas Priesthood - ADL

Eric Rudolph and the Army of God

The Army of God does not exist as a single entity, but is primarily a common name used by a loose network of Christian Right anti-abortion militants. This represents a very tiny wing of the Christian Right. There is some overlap between the Army of God (and other militant Christian Right activists) and the militia movement, and some in the militia movement are anti-abortion activists. There are suspected links to the Extreme Right. In one case police have charged that Eric Rudolph, probably influenced by the Extreme Right Christian Identity, seems to have claimed credit for alleged bombings using the name "Army of God."

The Army of God and abortion violence

View the letters released by the FBI

AOG itself:

See also:
There is a similar situation with a variety of groups and individuals who promote the idea of the Phineas Priesthood.

Leaderless Resistance

The 1980s and 1990s saw innovation in the Extreme Right. Some leaders sought a new sanitized image.  Some groups spun off underground cells while others had followers who acted as "Lone Wolves." This decentralization was suggested by Klan leader Louis Beam in a 1983 essay titled, "Leaderless Resistance," based on common theories of guerrilla warfare.

"Leaderless Resistance" was written by Beam and published in a small newsletter, the Inter-Klan Newsletter & Survival Alert, undated, circa May 1983. The Alert was published from the Aryan Nations compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho. The essay (see below)  concluded with a note:

IN coming issues of the Inter-Klan Newsletter we will begin our detailed study of LEADERLESS RESISTANCE and how it may be used against the enemy who seeks to enslave the descendants of the Founding Fathers.

In "Leaderless Resistance," Beam is reacting to the increased U.S. government crackdown on members of extreme right hate groups (see chronology below), especially the killing of Posse Comitatus leader Gordon Kahl.  Beam speaks about a broad range of ways to "defeat the enemy by whatever means possible." There has been a tendency to lump together the idea of Leaderless Resistance with the concept of the Lone Wolf. Guerrilla cells and Lone Wolves are not necessarily forms of what has come to be called in the broad sense "Leaderless Resistance"--the idea of autonomous cells carrying out acts of sabotage or terrorism without direct orders from a leader of a larger political organization or movement. Furthermore, what Beam actually meant by his essay "Leaderless Resistance" was a whole range of guerrilla warfare activities. A Lone Wolf might have been acting alone and have picked a target without advice, or might have been sent on a mission by a hierarchical leader. Even a Lone Wolf acting alone in the generic sense of  Leaderless Resistance might still have been greatly influenced by an ideology, or the verbal or written statements of a respected movement leader.

These complexity of these issues are discussed in detail in the following essays:

Tom Burghardt

Simpson L. Garfinkel

Paul de Armond

The Advent of Netwar (Revisited)
Rand Study: John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt

(Thanks to Paul de Armond for his discussions concerning  many of these issues)

*Beam, Louis. 1983 "Leaderless Resistance" Inter-Klan Newsletter & Survival Alert, undated, circa May, pages not numbered, on file at PRA.


The concept of leaderless resistance was proposed by Col. Ulius Louis Amoss, who was the founder of International Service of Information Incorporated, located in Baltimore, Maryland. Col. Amoss died more than 15 years ago, but during his life he was a tireless opponent of Communism, as well as a skilled intelligence officer.

Col. Amoss first wrote of leaderless resistance on April 17, 1962. His theories of organization were primarily directed against the threat of eventual Communist takeover in the United States. The present writer, with the benefit of having lived many years beyond Col. Amoss, has taken his theories and expounded on them.

Col. Amoss feared the Communists. This author fears the federal government. Communism now represents a threat to no one in the United States, while federal tyranny represents a threat to EVERYONE. The writer has joyfully lived long enough to see the dying breaths of Communism, but may unhappily remain long enough to see the last dying gasps of freedom in America.

Read Full Essay

Leaderless Resistance and Christian Identity: A Chronology

With the exception of the Pagan neonazis in The Order, what unites this list below is Christian Identity, especially as spread through the Posse Comitatus movement.

Gale meeting "declaration"
(see Daniel Levitas, p. 288 in bibliography)                                              1984 July

Aryan Nations Congress                                                 1984 July

Order cell stages California armored car robbery             1984 July

Gale proposes idea of Posse Comitatus1971
Mike Beach spreads ideas of Posse Comitatus1973
Gale forms Committee of the States1982-1983
Arizona Patriots start forming Kingman cell1983-1984
Gordon Kahl / Posse Comitatus first shootout1983 February
Beam first publishes "Leaderless Resistance." *1983 May
Gordon Kahl / killed1983 June
Covenant, Sword, and Arm of the Lord – plots
(includes Richard Wayne Snell)
1983 (after Kahl death sez Noble, 130)
Aryan Nations Congress
(alleged plot cited in 1987 Fort Smith indictments)
1983 July
CSA affiliates try to arson gay positive church1983 August
Order cell formed by members of various groups1983 August/September
Order cell stages Spokane, porn store robbery1983 October
CSA affiliates w/ Snell stage attacks1983 November
Order cell stages Seattle area bank robberies1983 December
Gale activates "militia" - Committee of the States1983-1984
Order cell stages Seattle area robbery1984 January
Order cell stages Seattle area armored car robbery1984 March
Snell shoots officer1984 June
Order cell assassinates Berg1984 June
Robert Mathews dies in shootout1984 December
Covenant, Sword, and Arm of the Lord raid1985 April
Fort Smith Indictments1987
Bush New World Order speech1991
Beam republishes "Leaderless Resistance."1992
Eric Rudolph (suspected in)
   Olympic Park bombing
   Women's reproductive health clinic
   Lesbian nightclub
   Women's reproductive health clinic

Buford Furrow, Jr. (Christian Identity)
    Shootings in California


More Links for Context:

Online Articles:

Spotlight On

Browse Topics | Site Guide | Multimedia Bookstore | Magazine | Publications | Activists Resources

Political Research Associates

Copyright Information, Terms, and Conditions

Please read our Terms and Conditions for copyright information regarding downloading, copying, printing, and linking material on this site; our disclaimer about links present on this website; and our privacy policy.

Updates and Corrections