What is the Christian Identity Church movement?


St. Louis Post-Dispatch/March 5, 2000

Earliest roots: Began in England in the 1840s by Rev. John Wilson who preached that Anglo-Saxons were God's "chosen people" as the descendants of the "12 Lost Tribes of Israel." They migrated across the Caucasus (and were so called Caucasians). Thus, the Lost Tribes were the people who inhabited northern Europe and the British Isles. Wilson's teaching moved quickly to the United States because Caucasian followers surmised that if the English, and not the Jewish people, were the blood descendants of the ancient Israelites, then so were the white Americans. In the 1940s, the message was refined by Wesley Swift, founder of a California Identity Church, and William Potter Gale, a World War II aide to Gen. Douglas MacAurthur.

Size: Experts estimate that the Christian Identity movement has at least 102 active affiliates, with 50,000 followers or active pamphleteers working in 35 states. Missouri has 17 Identity affiliates, more than any other state, with California second with nine. The organization of the religion has no central authority, instead it is a "leaderless resistance" -- hard-to-infiltrate congregations around the country that adhere to the same doctrine but answer to no one. The message is disseminated through mass mailings of pamphlets and magazines, recruiting of the (disenfranchised) on college campuses and, in the 1990s, on the Internet.

Some white supremacist hate groups who follow the Christian Identity doctrine: Aryan Nations, Posse Comitatus, the Ku Klux Klan, the New Order and the Covenant, Sword and Arm of the Lord


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