Christian Identity

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Christian Identity characterizes a group of racial and religious beliefs that motivate many Eurocentric White nationalist groups. It is an alternative interpretation of Genesis, in which the Twelve Lost Tribes of Israel are the true descendants of Adam and Abraham, not the Jews. "Identity", in the term, means that people of this group know their true identity, not a myth perpetrated on them by Jews or others.[1]

The movement originated in Britain in the 19th century, and was called British-Israelism or Anglo-Israelism. It was based on an assumption that the true Israelites were scattered by invasions of Hittites, Assyrians and Babylonians, and populated Europe. Jews, in the original belief system, were simply Abrahamic descendants that had not been scattered. It was never a large group in Britain, but grew when it came to the United States, led by Howard Rand (1889-1991) and his Anglo-Saxon Federation. [2]

The "Christian" connection is less clear.

American variant

In the U.S., an antisemitic theme began to become prominent. The alternative explanation was that Israel was not the Jewish home, but they came "an Asiatic people known as the Khazars, who settled near the Black Sea during the Middle Ages. European (Ashkenazic) Jews were thus "false" Israelites who further obscured the fact that it was really white Europeans who were the "true" Israelites."

In the "two-seedline doctrine" of Christian Identity, Adam was preceded by other, lesser races, identified as “the beasts of the field” (Genesis 1:25). Eve was seduced by the snake (Satan) and gave birth to two seed lines: Cain, the direct descendent of Satan and Eve, and Abel, who was of good Aryan stock through Adam. Cain then became the progenitor of the Jews in his subsequent matings with the non-Adamic races, and his descendants achieved near-complete world control. [3]

One popularizer of this variant was William J. Cameron, editor of the Dearborn Independent, published in the 1920s by Henry Ford, and Ford's press adviser until the 1940s. Under Cameron, the Independent propagated the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

The identifiable Christian Identity movement was founded by Wesley Swift (1913-1970), a former Methodist minister who, in the 1940s, Swift started the Church of Jesus Christ Christian. Swift was also involved in contemporary right-wing groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, and became a friend of a leading postwar anti-Semite, Gerald L. K. Smith.


As the year 2000 approached, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted a study of possible apocalyptic cults associated with that year, called Project Megiddo.

There are a number of issues concerning the Christian Identity belief system that create

problems when determining the threat level of groups. First, Christian Identity does not have a national organizational structure. Rather, it is a grouping of churches throughout the country which follows its basic ideology. Some of these churches can be as small as a dozen people, and some as large as the AN church, which claims membership in the thousands. In addition, some groups take the belief to a higher extreme and believe violence is the means to achieve their goal. This lack of structure creates a greater potential for violent actions by lone offenders and/or leaderless cells. It is important to note that only a small percentage of Christian Identity adherents believe that the new millennium will bring about a race war. However, those that do have a high

propensity for violence[4]

Recent activity

In 2009, a Tennessee prisoner, convicted killer Anthony Hayes, brought suit labeling of his Christian Identity faith as a “security threat group.” “I continue to receive requests from chaplains and wardens concerning Christian Identity,” According to Tennessee Department of Corrections staffer, “This morning Chaplain (Randall) Runions at (South Central Correctional Facility) faxed two grievances recently filed against him. One grievance is from CI inmates and the other is from Rastafarian inmates, both wishing to meet for group worship services.” U.S. District Court Judge Tom Varlan rejected the suit, “With respect to the prison officials’ findings that the Christian Identity faith materials involved security threat group activity, the court will defer to the professional judgment of the prison officials. Prisoners have a First Amendment right to practice their religious beliefs. This right is not unlimited, however.”[5]

Cybercast News Service (, a division of the Media Research Center, said, in January 2010, that Erroll Southers, the Obama Administration now-withdrawn nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration, "Characterized Groups That Were Domestic Security Threats" as generically "Having 'Christian Identity.'" The video with the CNSNews release actually showed Southers saying domestic terror groups include "white supremacist groups" that are often "Christian Identity groups" or "Christian Identity-oriented"; according to the Anti-Defamation League, the Christian Identity movement has "virulently racist and anti-Semitic beliefs" and is tied to several domestic terrorists.[6]


  1. Viola Larson (Fall 1992), "Identity: A 'Christian' Religion for White Racists", Christian Research Journal: 20
  2. Extremism in America: Christian Identity, Anti-Defamation League
  3. Jeffrey Kaplan, Radical Religion in America (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1997), p. 47-48, quoted in FBI Project Megiddo
  4. Project Megiddo, Federal Bureau of Investigation, pp. 14-17
  5. Jamie Satterfield (3 May 2009), "Tennessee: Chaplains facing challenges", Chattanooga (Tennessee) Times Free Press
  6. "Quick Fact: CNS falsely claims Southers described groups "having 'Christian Identity'" as domestic threat", MediaMatters, 14 January 2010