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Viewing Anglo-Saxon and Nordic people as the true chosen people, Christian Identity’s members believe Christ will not return until the world has been cleansed of Satan’s children.
Michael Barkun, one of the leading experts on the Christian Identity movement, has labeled as virulently racist and anti-semitic its theology that the Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, Scandinavian, and Germanic peoples are the true racial descendants of the tribes of Israel. By anointing essentially white, Nordic people as the chosen ones, Christian Identity denies the Jews their biblical roots and accuses them of being children of Satan. Small, extremely conservative fundamentalist Christian denominations in the United States have embraced this interpretation of history and scripture and extended their loathing of blacks and Jews to include gays and lesbians. As Barkun states it, Christian Identity is the “glue” that binds the racist right together.
Traditionally, the largest segment of the movement has been the Ku Klux Klan, which was reorganized in 1915 by Williams Simmons, a pastor who had been inspired by the racist film The Birth of a Nation, which depicted the Klan of the post–Civil War era as heroic defenders of white civilization. By the early 1940s and World War II, the Klan had begun to fade into obscurity, but the movement was born again in reaction to federally enforced racial integration in the South.
Larry Brown, a professor at the University of Missouri, has studied the Christian Identity movement in an effort to determine how its members could read the sacred Hebrew and Christian texts in a manner that supports racism and hate crimes. Brown found the movement prevalent in rural, isolated areas, such as the Appalachian and Ozark Mountains and parts of Iowa and Oregon. In Brown’s opinion, Christian Identity appeals to individuals who feel marginalized by modern society and who are trying to find a personal connection to the cosmos. As these individuals perceive the many different ethnic groups coming to the United States, bringing with them multicultur-alism and different ways of thinking, they see only threats to their own lifestyle and beliefs. These people need to explain a rapidly changing society by sustaining the hope that they are the ones who will survive a massive destruction of the old world. “It’s the story of power that’s given to people who otherwise are just people,” Brown has said.
The psychologist Mark Stern observes that those in the Christian Identity movement believe that they are the true representatives of how Christianity should have been from the beginning. Stern comments that the many groups that are part of the movement reject the label of “cult,” preferring to call themselves “holiness groups.”
Among current groups who follow the principles of Christian Identity are the American Nazi Party, Aryan Nations, Church of Jesus Christ Christian, National Association for the Advancement of White People, Scriptures for America, and White Separatist Banner. Essentially apocalyptic groups, most of their leaders see Armageddon, the final battle between good and evil, Jesus and Satan, right around the corner. Although Christian Identity groups insist that they do not promote violence of any kind, many of their leaders flatly state that Christ cannot return until the world has been cleansed of all satanic influences, including Jews, homosexuals, and those who mix races.