Identity Christianity

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Identity Christianity

Identity Christianity (IC) is a theological stew composed in equal parts of hackneyed linguistics, conspiratology, pyramidology, and UFO lore. Seasoned with apocalyptic urgency and right-wing politics, it is topped with a rich layer of British Israelism. Emerging from the crucible of American religious experimentation, Los Angeles, in the 1940s, the mother church moved to Idaho, where its paramilitary arm, the Aryan Nations, was organized in the 1970s. Independent groups broke away because of personal jealousies, tactical disagreements, and theological disputes. Most of these are located today in the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Coast states. During the 1980s and 1990s these became seedbeds of terrorism. The violence was partly attributable to successful recruitment efforts by IC missionaries of disaffected white youths and prison inmates.

IC is manicheistic. It sees the world as divided into good and evil, represented by Aryans and Jews, respectively. Black people ("muds") are viewed as quasi-human pawns in the Jewish One World conspiracy, together with "liberal dupes," "Reds," environmentalists, and feminists. What constitutes a Jew is a matter of heated debate. Nonracist ICs argue that the title applies to any members of the "satanic cult," Judaism, regardless of their race. IC racists disagree, insisting that regardless of their nominal faith, Jews are Khazars, an Asian folk supposedly descended from the mating of Shelah (the mongrel son of Judah) and the "red-skinned" Edomites. The Edomites themselves are considered to be the product of Esau (the losing competitor to Jacob-Israel for God's favor) and the "hooked-nosed" Hittites. Other IC racists maintain, simply, that the Jew is the "spawn of Satan," born from Eve's cohabitation with the Serpent. In this theory, the father of the Jews is Cain, history's first murderer.

Identity Christianity is so called because the "true" identity of the Aryan people is considered Israel. Hence the Bible is theirs; God's promise that Israel will rule the earth is theirs. Jesus Christ is not a Jew, but theirs, an Aryan. After being released from capture by the Assyrians, the story goes, the ten lost tribes of Israel migrated over the Caucasus Mountains—hence their racial type, Caucasian. Eventually they settled in various European countries, many of which today allegedly bear their names: Danmark (Denmark), the tribe of Dan; Jutland, Judah; Spain (Cadiz), Gad; and so on. Some ICs claim that America is the home of Manasseh, Ephraim's (Britain's) twin; others argue that it will be the final gathering place for all of Israel at the end of time. Elaborate archaeological data, etymologies, numerologies, and biblical promises are cited to buttress these claims.

IC doctrine is disseminated through underground media consisting of books, taped sermons, videos, and shortwave radio broadcasts. Some IC churches also sponsor conventions such as the Aryan World Conference, where cross-burnings are conducted, along with weapons and tactics training and evangelism. While the number of active IC congregants is minuscule, those who access its media range in the tens of thousands.

See alsoBritish Israelism; Dogmatism; Fundamentalist Christianity; Ku Klux Klan; Religious Right; Survivalism.


Aho, James A. The Politicsof Righteousness. 1990.

Barkun, Michael. Religionand the Racist Right. 1994.

James A. Aho