A Controversial Creed

Beating suspect linked to 'Christian Identity' ideology

Newsday/August 4, 2001
By Pat Burson and Joseph Mallia

Christian Identity, a religious ideology embraced by several organized hate groups across the country, has been linked to Christopher Slavin, who is on trial in the beating of two Mexican immigrants in Shirley last year.

Its followers embrace an interpretation of Genesis that Anglo-Saxons are the ancient Israelites - the 10 lost tribes - the Bible referred to and the true descendants of Adam, according to experts and several Internet sites. The movement teaches that Anglo-Saxons are God's chosen people, Jews are the seed of Satan and racial and ethnic minorities are less than human. The ideology espouses that people of all other races are the "beasts of the earth," who were created before Adam.

Also called "Anglo Israelism" and "British Israelism," the Christian Identity movement began around the mid- to late-1800s in Great Britain and took root in the United States in the 1940s, experts said.

"It was not originally a racist theology but another exposition of Christian theology," said Gail Gans, director of the Civil Rights Information Center of the Anti-Defamation League in Manhattan. "It's a theology that is a happy one for the haters because it gives justification for people they hate."

While churches that preach Christian Identity believe its followers are the true chosen people, not all are racist, anti-Semitic or violent, Gans said.

But some believers have aligned themselves with major hate groups, such as the Aryan Nations, whose leaders have blended their extremist views against Jews, racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants and the government with the Christian Identity theology.

On Friday, Slavin was linked to the Christian Identity movement by a witness who testified at his attempted murder trial.

August B. Kreis, an Aryan Nation leader for seven Northeastern states, said in a telephone interview Friday from his home in Ulysses, Pa., that he has known Slavin for "10-plus years" and will be following developments in his trial closely.

Kreis said his anti-government group, Posse Comitatus, is one of several organizations that make up the Christian Identity movement. He said the label "hate group" does not fit his group but added that Jews, blacks and other nonwhites are not human. Only whites are human according to the Bible, he said.

Gans said those beliefs have led some followers to commit violence. "The kind of theology it is makes it easier to kill people because they become dehumanized by the adherents," she said.

Kreis said he does not believe that Slavin tried to kill the day laborers. "Chris is a good friend of mine. I know the trouble he got in, and it happened because of all the filthy Mexicans all over the country and the government doing nothing about it.

"What would be the point of killing two Mexicans when thousands of them cross the borders illegally every day?"

Kreis said he would not advocate killing anyone. He added that when all whites "bend their knees to Yahweh" - or God - then God will eliminate all nonwhites, so it doesn't make sense for someone who believes in Christian Identity to take matters into his own hands.

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