RACIST, VIOLENT RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT UNDERGOING A
04/03/98 07:05:49 PM
By JUDY L. THOMAS c. 1997 Kansas City Star
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Christian Identity, a race-based
religious movement that teaches that Jews are satanic and
that nonwhites are inferior, is undergoing a revival in the
buckle of the Bible Belt.
The resurgence of the belief system -- Identity churches
or groups now number 16 in Missouri and three in Kansas --
is a concern because authorities say the movement has a
track record of spawning violence.
In the past 15 years, adherents have been convicted of
robberies, bombings and murders, have engaged in shootouts
with police and have plotted assassinations and the
overthrow of the government to attain their stated goal: a
white Christian nation.
"I think the (Christian) Identity movement is the up-and-
coming fad among extremists in Missouri," said Capt. Jim
Keathley, who tracks right-wing groups for the Missouri
Highway Patrol. "It's really dangerous when you start mixing
guns with religious beliefs that are far to the right...."
The violence had subsided in the late 1980s with the
arrest and conviction of numerous followers, some with
Kansas and Missouri ties. But now the pace and severity of
crimes allegedly committed by people who share a belief
system similar to the Christian Identity doctrine appear to
- In December, three right-wing extremists were charged
in Little Rock, Arkansas, with plotting to overthrow the
government by killing public officials and police to
create a whites-only nation. Two of the men have also
been charged with the 1996 murders of an Arkansas man,
his wife and her 8-year-old daughter.
- Last month, a federal grand jury in East St. Louis,
Illinois, indicted four men on charges of conspiracy
after raids at their southern Illinois homes turned up
guns and hand grenades. According to court records, the
men were members of a white supremacist group called The
New Order, patterned after The Order, a group whose
members committed violence in the 1980s as part of their
plan for a white revolution.
The FBI said the men had planned to bomb federal
buildings, assassinate a civil rights lawyer and a federal
judge and poison municipal water supplies. - Authorities say
that Eric Robert Rudolph, for whom an arrest warrant has
been issued in the Jan. 29 fatal bombing at a Birmingham,
Alabama, abortion clinic, was a longtime follower of a
Christian Identity leader in Andrews, N. C., who died last
Authorities and those who monitor the movement say that
although not all Christian Identity followers are violent,
the message that the white race is superior and others are
evil or inferior can be used by some extremists to justify
violent acts to further their cause.
"Christian Identity uses biblical references to justify
white supremacy and violence against other races," said
Leonard Zeskind, a Kansas City author who researches
right-wing groups. "They're trying to say their motives are
noble. But the bottom line is that their theology, their
belief in who is good, who is evil and who can be redeemed,
is all racially determined."
The more people who accept the Christian Identity
doctrine, said Michael Reynolds of the Southern Poverty Law
Center, the greater the likelihood of violence.
"Crimes like murder and bank robbery are not crimes to
them, because they believe the laws they're breaking are
merely man's laws," said Reynolds, whose Alabama
organization tracks right-wing groups. "To them, if you're
acting in furtherance of God's law, then you are doing the
Devin Burghart of the Center for New Community, a Chicago
group that educates churches about right-wing extremists,
said the Christian Identity message was starting to creep
into mainline denominations.
"We're getting quite a few calls from pastors who are
confused about what it is and what it means," Burghart said.
Fifty years ago, the Christian Identity movement had
fewer than 100 followers, according to Southern Poverty.
Today, the center says, Identity has more than 50,000
followers in North America.
A 1997 Identity directory lists 16 groups or churches in
Missouri. In Kansas, it lists three groups. One reason for
the increase, experts said, is that leaders are toning down
the racial aspect of the Identity doctrine.
"They've got to bring the mainstream in if they ever hope
to succeed," said Kerry Noble, the former second-in-command
at the Covenant, Sword and Arm of the Lord, a heavily armed
Christian Identity compound along the Arkansas-Missouri
border that was broken up by federal authorities in 1985.
"To get the mainstream, you can't be bad-mouthing the Jews
all the time."
The Identity directory contains an example of the "toning
down" in an explanation of why the title was changed in 1996
from The Directory of Christian Identity to The Directory of
the Covenant People.
"The term 'Identity' has come under increasing pressure
and condemnation today by some of the minions of
churchianity as well as the godless heathen," it said.
Some pastors in Missouri denied that their groups had any
association with Christian Identity, despite being listed in
the directory and distributing newsletters and literature
indicating similar beliefs.
"Some of these groups wearing the name Christian
Identity, we might share some points in common with them,"
said Dan Gayman, pastor of the Church of Israel in Schell
City, Mo. "But one of those areas we have strong
disagreement with is the use of any kind of violence."
Gayman said that a small group of radicals had taken over
what used to be called Christian Identity, bringing "shame
and reproach" to the name. He refers to himself and his
followers as "Christian Israelites."
Authorities, however, say that it doesn't matter what
name the groups go by -- their belief systems are identical.
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998 10:53:50 +0800
From: Haryadi Wardono <HaryadiW@kpc.co.id>