The Identity Church movement promotes
the view that Christianity, when properly
understood, supports anti-Semitic and racist beliefs and extremist violence. In
actuality, of course, the Identity version of Christianity completely distorts traditional
Christian teachings. In 1987, the National Council of Churches, the leading organization
representing mainline Christians, forcefully rejected all of the Identity movement's
Identity has its roots in a belief called
Anglo-Israelism, which arose in England in the late 1800s. Anglo-Israelites believed
that white Anglo-Saxons were descended from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, who were exiled
by invaders in biblical times. According to Anglo-Israel doctrine, England and the United
States were the true Israel of the Bible - the lands in which biblical promises to the
"Chosen People," Anglo-Saxons, were to be fulfilled.
Identity leaders hope that if hate and bigotry are
presented as religion more people will listen and accept at least some of these beliefs.
In the United States Identity groups have even tried to convince the government that they
are actually "churches," and therefore deserve the tax benefits and
respectability that true religious organizations receive.
Any examination of the activities of Identity Church
followers would quickly reveal their true nature. In 1983 and 1984 members of a group
called The Order committed a series of violent crimes, including murder, bombing, and
armed robbery in support of their extremist views. This group closely followed Identity
teachings and attended Identity churches (most of which celebrate Hitler as a prophet or
even messiah). According to the testimony of one member of the group, "the end goal,
bluntly, was the annihilation of the Jewish race."
Most recently, the Identity movement's bitter racist
ideology and anti-Semitic philosophy has linked together an assorted collection of
extremist groups. Organizations ranging from the neo-Nazi National Alliance to some
militia groups have embraced Christian Identity beliefs. These racists have all found the
Identity Church's views helpful in promoting and defending their violent and hateful ideas