Apologetics Index
Christian Identity

HategroupProfess to be Christian but are outside orthodox Christianity Christian Identity

aka: Identity Movement, Anglo-Israelism, British-Israelism, white supremacy


First posted: Sep. 1, 1996
Last Updated: Feb. 7, 2001
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Adherents believe present day Anglo-Saxon people are direct descendants of the ancient Israelites, and have thus inherited all God's promises to Abraham and his descendants. The movement consists of a number of groups, most of which promote hate by considering whites to be the superior race (''white supremacy'').

Examples: Aryan Nations, National Alliance, and some patriot / militia groups.

Identity followers believe that white Anglo-Saxons - not Jews - are the real Biblical ''Chosen People;'' that Jews are descendants of a sexual union between Eve and Satan; that the white race is superior to others, and that Blacks and other nonwhite races are ''mud people'' on the same level as animals, and therefore have no souls.

The Identity Church movement promotes the view that Christianity, when properly understood, supports anti-Semitic and racist beliefs and extremist violence. In actuality, of course, the Identity version of Christianity completely distorts traditional Christian teachings.

This system of beliefs is called Christian Identity, and adherence to it is probably the single greatest common denominator among all the various fragmented factions of the radical right wing in America. It is practices by the neo-Nazis of the Aryan Nations, by the leaders of the Militia of Montana, and by remnants of the Ku Klux Klan in the South.

Its foremost preachers is the Reverend Pete Peters, a Colorado-based minister whose 1992 gathering in Estes Park - drawing such liminaries as John Trochmann, Ku Klux Klan leader Louis Beam, and onetime Pat Buchanan adviser Larry Pratt - is often credited with bring the chief formative event behind the militia movement.

The core beliefs of Christian Identity are so far astray from those of mainsteam Christianity - and so repellent to average Americans - that they induce in the religion's followers a cult-like closed mindset: a sense of persecution coupled with self-righteousness that is supported by the group's social peers. True believerfs - often drawn from the ranks of the disenfranchised - will not be dissuaded by any amount of logic and reason.

They live in a kind of alternative universe, complex and wholly unlike anything in mainstream life. It is populated by soulless non-humans, satanic conspirators and a handful of true Christians who abide by ''God's law.'' By closing off the other world, they reinforce each other's beliefs in the confines of their tight social circle.
In God's Country : The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest, by David A. Neiwert, Washington State University Press, 1999, pages 11-12

Religion has been used for thousands of years to mask hate and prejudice. ''Spirituality'' still serves as a convenient excuse for violence and other forms of antisocial behavior. All that is needed is a little false piety; coupled with liberal doses of self-induced ignorance and blind devotion to ''the truth.'' Even the most loathsome attitudes and barbarous acts can then be attributed to ''serving God.''

This holds especially true for believers in Christian Identity (also simply referred to as Identity), a twentieth-century amalgation of racism and pseudo-Christian ideas. It is a complex doctrinal system that emerged in the 1940s and reached theological maturity by the 1970s throughout the rural areas ''of the West and South - such as the Ozarks, and mountain areas of the Pacific Northwest.'' According to J. Gordon Melton, a nationally recognized chronicler of religions in America, ''Identity is a religion by sociopaths, for sociopaths. It turns their sickness into virtue.''

Identity now claims approximately 20,000 to 3,000 adherents nationwided. It is not a religious sect. Neither is it an authoritarian cult, nor a mainstream denomination. It has no single leaders and is not governed by a core of spiritually elite individuals. It does not even have a definitive set of beliefs that a peson must embrace in order to be accepted as a follower. Identity is a social, political, and spiritual movement composed of religiously inclined racists from the ranks of the neo-Nazi community, the KKK and other white supremacist organizations.

Although their views may differ on a few peripheral issues - e.g., whether or not Hitler should be idolized, what should be done with non-whites (exportation vs. extermination), the merits of violent action as opposed to the benefits of nonviolent political activism, etc. - most Identity believers agree on five basic premises:

  • White people (Aryans) are the Israelites of the Old Testament.
  • The Jews are literal descendants of Satan.
  • Adam and Eve were not, as mainstream Christianity teaches, the first people. They were the first white people.
  • All non-Whites (blacks, Asians, Middle Easteners, etc.) are descendants of pre-Adamic races and make up an entirely different species than Caucasians.
  • Armageddon, which be will a race war between whites and non-whites, is fast approaching.

Attempting to paint an easily recognizable picture of Identity's disjointed network of independent churches and self-styled leaders is extremely difficult. ''Rivalries among leaders, organizational splits, and the extinction of old and the creation of new groups all make the 'mapping' of Identity a frustrating undertaking.''

Nevertheless, its dangerous tenets and increasing popularity suggest that the public should be given at least a general overview of Identity doctrines and structure.

Moreover, many Christian Identity leaders and followers are closely affiliated with patriot movement groups and various militia spokespersons.
American Militias: Rebellion, Racism & Religion, Richard Abanes, InterVarsity Press, Downer's Gover, Illinois, 1996. Pages 154-155.

The beginnings of the patriot / militia movement are inseparably interwoven with the violent Christian Identity movement (CIM). This network of churches and independent leaders began forming in the 1940s as racists defected from mainstream Christian denominations to organize their own churches. Although they retained a few Christian doctrines, especially those concerning the end times, they adopted additional beliefs built around prejudice and hate. Identity believers, for example, hold that today's Caucasians are the true descendants of Abralum, Isaac, and Jacob. Thus they are God's chosen people.

What of the Jew? Identity teaches that Jews resulted from a sexual union between Eve and ''the serpent'' (Gen. 3), which is usually identified as either Satan in physical form or a demonic representative in human flesh.[29] This teaching known as the ''Serpent Seed'' doctrine asserts that Cain was conceived by Eve and Satan, while Abel was conceived by Eve and Adarn, who were supposedly the first white people. Cain allegedly then fathered the Jews by intermarrying with preexisting nonwhite races known as ''mud people'' or ''beasts of the field.'' Identity leader Bertrand Comparet comments, ''The Bible makes it unmistakably clear that we are not all descended from Adam and Eve, for there were other races on earth, already old, already numerous, when Adam was created.''[30] (Cf. Gen. 3:20, which says Eve became the mother of all the living.)

Long before today's militias, these white supremacists / CIM followers were calling themselves ''patriots.'' One Aryan Nations newsletter (c. 1982), for instance, lists Aryan Nations founder Richard Buller and racist leader Dan Gaymen as ''Christian patriots.''[31] Several racist fundraising letters from the 1980s, such as those produced by KKK Grand Wizard Don Black, were addressed to fellow ''White Patriots.''[32] By the 1980s, white ''patriots'' were also forming paramilitary groups similar to militias. For example, in the mid 1980s a militia-like group of racists called the Arizona Patriots were arrested and convicted of plotting to bomb several targets, including federal buildings in Phoenix and Los Angeles.[33]
America's Patriot Movement: Infiltrating the Church with the Gospel of Hate, by Richard Abanes, Christian Research Journal, Winter, 1997.

Some militias go beyond a distrust of the UN and anxiety over gun control issues, the FBI said.

FBI director Freeh explained in a statement to Congress in 1999: ''Most of the militia movement has no racial overtones and does not espouse bigotry; there are some black and Jewish militia members. However, the pseudo-religion of Christian Identity, as well as other hate philosophies, have begun to creep into the militia movement... Christian Identity is a belief system that provides both a religious base for racism and anti-Semitism, and an ideological rationale for violence against minorities. This pattern of racist elements seeping into the militia movement is a disturbing trend, as it will only strengthen the radical elements of the militias.''
The militia lurking in your backyard, The Thomaston Express, Dec. 21, 2000



Christian American Militias: Rebellion, Racism & Religion, [Out of print] By Richard Abanes, InterVarsity Press, Downer's Gover, Illinois, 1996.
Secular In God's Country : The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest, by David A. Neiwert
Secular Religion and the Racist Right, Origins of the Christian Identity Movement by professor Michael Barkun. Barkun is professor of political science in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, and is considered an expert in Christian Identity theology.

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First posted: Sep. 1, 1996
Last Updated: Mar. 31, 2010
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