What do they believe?

Christian Identity is a religious ideology popular among extreme right-wing and white supremacist groups. It is based on the belief the ancestry of European whites can be traced back to the “Lost Tribes of Israel.” They believe Jews are the satanic offspring of Eve and the serpent. Adherents to Christian Identity also contend Adam and Eve were not the first people created by God, but were the first created in God’s image. Previous creations were not endowed with God’s divine likeness and were the forerunners of all the non-white peoples of the Earth, or “mud peoples.” They believe these races exist without a soul. Adam and Eve (and their Israelite descendants) were the first whites, according to Christian Identity.

Another significant aspect of Christian Identity theology is a belief the world is experiencing its final days. Many believe they are about to enter into the time of tribulation, the final prophesied battle between good and evil. Identity Christians believe the apocalypse will be a racial battle.

Christian Identity believers hold themselves to “God’s laws,” not “man’s laws.” Many do not feel bound to a government they consider run by Jews, the New World Order or some other sinister entity. This anti-secularism has led to reclusiveness, with many believers living by themselves or with like-minded people in isolated locations.

Acts of Violence

In 1983 North Dakota, Gordon Kahl killed two U.S. Marshals attempting to arrest him for a parole violation. A four-month manhunt ended in another shootout in Arkansas, where Kahl killed a local sheriff before he was killed, himself.

In the same year, a white supremacist terrorist group known as The Order began a series of armed robberies. Several members of the group were Christian Identity, including David Tate. Tate killed a Missouri State Highway Patrol officer in 1985 while attempting to reach an Identity survivalist compound called the Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord (CSA). In the 1980s, several Christian Identity groups attempted to emulate The Order. Two notable groups were The Order II and the Arizona Patriots. These groups committed bombings and an attempted armored car robbery.

In the 1990s, the criminal activity of Christian Identity groups continued. Oklahoma Identity minister, Willie Ray Lampley, committed a series of bombings in the summer of 1995 in the wake of Timothy McVeigh’s Oklahoma City bombing. The following year, the Identity-based Montana Freemen made headlines for “paper terrorism” tactics and an 81-day standoff with the federal government. In 1998, Eric Rudolph, who had been associated with Identity ministers such as Nord Davis and Dan Gayman, became a fugitive after allegedly bombing gay bars, the Atlanta Summer Olympics and an abortion clinic.

This decade also saw the creation of the Phineas Priesthood, set forth by Richard Kelly Hoskins in his 1990 book, Vigilantes of Christendom. The Priesthood is based on the concept of the obscure Biblical character Phinehas, an Israelite who used a spear to slay a “race-mixing” fellow Israelite and the Midianite woman with whom he had sex. Hoskins espoused the idea of an elite class of “Phineas Priests,” self-anointed warriors who would use extreme measures to attack race-mixers, gays, abortionists and other targets. Over the years, some have committed crimes using the Phineas Priest label, including a group of eight who committed bombings and bank robberies in the Spokane, Washington, area in 1996. In 2002, two Aryan Nations splinter groups openly adopted Phineas Priest names or symbols.

Hate groups

Westboro Baptist ChurchAmerica’s Promise Ministries