White Supremacy and Christian Nationalism

What is Christian Identity?

The Christian Identity movement, which preaches that America is the True Israel and that its followers are on a mission from God, is perhaps one of the most dangerous theological doctrines in America today. It is made all the more dangerous by the fact that so few people even realize that it exists, much less what exactly it represents. Christian Identity is the dominant theology of many active right-wing Christian groups, including many if not most Ku Klux Klan organizations.

Christian Identity & British Israelism

The origins of the American and Canadian Christian Identity movements can be traced back to a relatively benign, late 19th-century ideology. British Israelism taught that Western Europeans, especially the British, were the spiritual and literal descendants of the ten lost tribes of Israel — they, not the Jews, were God's true chosen people. This fit the American conception of itself as the "New Israel" and the "City on the Hill" which provides the world with the light of God and democracy.

Christian Identity & Christian Nationalism

Although Christian Identity is extremely nationalistic, its nationalism isn't exactly the same as what you find with most Christian Nationalists. The primary difference is the explicit focus on race. The prevalence of white supremacy among most Christian Nationalists is unknown but probably small; with Christian Identity, however, it is typically a fundamental belief. It's not simply that Christians should rule as God's chosen people, but that White Christians should rule.

Christian Identity vs. Christian Fundamentalism

Despite many similarities, Christian Identity and Christian Fundamentalism comprise two very different theologies. Christian Identity is particularly hostile to the futurist concept of rapture which is popular with fundamentalism. They regard it is a cowardly idea and in fact revel in the hope of having to experience the Tribulation personally. For Christian Identity followers, it will be one of the greatest honors to serve the Lord and battle against the forces of Satan.

Christian Identity & Anti-Semitism

Christian Identity is characterized by extreme anti-Semitism. Identity believers hate Jews with a passion and have incorporated the Jews as intricate elements within Identity theology. Identity believers have constructed an elaborate bloodline for contemporary Jews which begins with a union between Eve and the serpent (who was really Satan) in the Garden of Eden. Conspiracy theories about the Jews and the forces of Satan working to take over the world are thus fused.

Christian Identity, Dualism, and Satan

For Christian Identity, Satan is powerful enough to unseat God from the throne of creation. Christian Identity doesn't adopt Dualism completely, but it comes close. On the one hand, they know they are God's chosen few, destined to the final victory foretold in the Bible. On the other hand, their theology would not survive if Satan couldn't win. Group cohesion is strengthened through the fear that if they do not do their job in the coming battle, the Lord's cause may not be fulfilled.

Christian Identity & American Law

Christian Identity believers actively work to bring the American legal system into accord with the basic legalisms in the Bible. The hope of biblicizing American law is not unique to Christian Identity — they share it with the Christian Reconstructionists, an ideology which is related but not identical. The general idea is that all human law should be subordinate to divine law, and Christian Identity followers look forward to the day when human law ceases to exist.

Christian Identity & Survivalism

The concept of survivalism encompasses a wide range of beliefs and ideologies — the Christian Identity brand includes anticipation of imminent catastrophe, and as the new Israel, they need to withdraw from the rest of the world until the danger finally passes. Their radical withdrawal from the outside world into an insular community can easily engender a siege mentality, regarding everything outside their narrow system as the realm of Satan, not worthy of either respect or legitimacy.

Christian Identity & Radical Localism

The radical localism of Christian Identity is a common theme among a wide variety of far-right groups. In fact, this is a common entry point for many people into Christian Identity politics. With an independent group of citizens in each county acting as a law unto itself, interpreting what it saw as "God's Law" on its own at any particular time and place, we all enter a dangerous area. Heavily armed vigilantes answerable to no one but themselves are what a legal system is designed to prevent.

Christian Identity & Christian Revolution

A particular concern is that some adherents of Christian Identity have been involved with planning, organizing, and actual efforts to overthrow the government as well as attempts to effect territorial secession, typically of states in the northwest. The purpose, of course, would be to establish a real "Aryan Nation" which would be racially, religiously, and ideologically pure, just waiting for Christ's Second Coming and their key role in the Tribulation.

Both of these ideas, oddly enough, have roots in a work of fiction which isn't even Identity oriented: The Turner Diaries. It is circulated widely in Identity circles and cited with great approval — and it may have been an inspiration for the bombing of the Oklahoma Federal Building, which closely mirrored events in the book.

Other similarly violent activities include those of The Order, which appears to have been consciously modeled after an organization in The Turner Diaries. In 1984, members of The Order stole $3.8 million from an armored car, most of which has never been recovered. Large contributions were made to extremist and Identity organizations. That same year they were responsible for the assassination of Alan Berg, a Jewish radio talk show host in Denver who harshly criticized neo-nazis and Identity ideology. Most members were eventually killed or imprisoned.

As to separatism, there are conflicting ideas as to how a separate nation should be created. Some believe in the use of violence, but it is unlikely that that would really work. The numbers of those who advocate violence are few, probably a sensible reaction to the failure of violence to be effective for other groups. Others think that only minimal force should be used and that political persuasion should be the principal tool. Unfortunately, no feasible political arguments are forthcoming. The only similar project in American history was an abysmal failure and resulted in a tremendous amount of death, destruction, and misery.

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Your Citation
Cline, Austin. "White Supremacy and Christian Nationalism." Learn Religions, Sep. 13, 2021, learnreligions.com/christian-identity-white-supremacy-249514. Cline, Austin. (2021, September 13). White Supremacy and Christian Nationalism. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/christian-identity-white-supremacy-249514 Cline, Austin. "White Supremacy and Christian Nationalism." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/christian-identity-white-supremacy-249514 (accessed June 7, 2023).