March 2, 1998
- Headquartered near Hayden Lake, Idaho, Aryan Nations is a paramilitary hate group
founded in the mid-1970s by Rev. Richard Girnt Butler, now 78 years old. It was formed
around Butlers Church of Jesus Christ Christian, one of several hundred churches
affiliated with "Identity," a pseudo-theological hate movement. Identity
doctrine maintains that Anglo-Saxons, not Jews, are the Biblical "chosen
people," that non-whites are "mud people" on the level of animals, and that
Jews are "children of Satan." The group has a following of several hundred.
- Aryan Nations militantly advocates anti-Semitism and the establishment of a white racist
state. Although primarily an Identity group, Butlers Aryan nations reflects a
Nazi-like philosophy; Butler himself has praised Hitler. During the 1980s, several of
Butlers followers joined members of the neo-Nazi National Alliance and some KKK
splinter groups to form a secret organization called The Silent Brotherhood, also known as
The Order, which planned to overthrow the U.S. government. To raise money for their
planned revolution, The order engaged in a crime spree involving murder, counterfeiting,
bank robberies and armored car hold-ups. The groups activities ended with the death
of its founder and leader, Robert J. Matthews, in a shootout with Federal agents in
December 1984 and the incarceration of many of its members.
- As noted, anti-Semitism is a basic tenet of the Aryan Nations ideology. Dennis
Hilligoss, the groups state coordinator in Oregon, recently said, "The Jew is
like a destroying virus that attacks our racial body to destroy our Aryan culture and
purity of our race."
- In 1996, Aryan Nations published a "Declaration of Independence" for the Aryan
race on its Web site. This "Declaration" states that "all people are
created equally subject to the eternal laws of nature
such is now the necessity
which impels them [Aryans] to alter their form of government. The history of the present
Zionist Occupied Government of the United States of America is a history of repeated
injuries and usurpations [sic], all having a direct object the establishment of an
absolute tyranny over these states; moreover throughout the entire world
therefore, the representatives of the Aryan people, in council, appealing to the supreme
God of our folk for the rectitude of intentions
solemnly publish and declare that
the Aryan people in America, are, and of rights ought to be, a free and independent
nation; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the United States of America, and
that all political connection between them and the Federal government thereof, is and
ought to be, totally dissolved; and that as a free and independent nation they have full
power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances. Establish commerce, and to perform
all other acts which independent nations may of right do." The
"Declaration" concludes, "WE MUST SECURE THE EXISTENCE OF OUR PEOPLE AND A
FUTURE FOR WHITE CHILDREN."
- To aid in recruitment efforts, Aryan Nations hosts many racist activities during its
summer festivals of hate at Hayden Lake, called the "World Congress of Aryan
Nations." At these conferences, Butlers organization has offered courses in
urban terrorism and guerilla warfare. Numerous extremists have addressed Aryan Nations
gatherings. John Trochmann, a featured speaker at the 1990 Congress, later became the
leader of the Militia of Montana.
- Since 1979, Aryan Nations has been engaged in prison outreach. This is an important
aspect of the Aryan Nations agenda, given that so many members of The Order and
Aryan Nations are serving long prison sentences. Aryan Nations corresponds on an ongoing
basis with prison inmates through letters and its periodicals. In 1987, Aryan Nation began
publishing a "prison outreach newsletter" called The Way, which has
facilitated recruitment and connections between Aryan nations and its offspring, Aryan
Brotherhood, a network of prison gang members.
- With Richard Butlers failing health and increasing inability to assert himself as
a viable leader, Aryan Nations Ohio chapter appears to be positioning itself as a possible
new headquarters for the group. In late 1997, members held rallies in several Ohio cities
and distributed anti-black and anti-Semitic fliers throughout northern Kentucky and
southwestern Ohio. One of the fliers specifically targeted local rabbis and synagogues in
Dayton, Ohio. In November, about 100 Aryan Nations supporters attended a fundraiser hosted
by the Ohio chapter.
- In September, 1997, Ohios Aryan Nations leader, Harold Ray Redfeairn, was
sentenced to six months in prison for carrying a concealed weapon.
- On February 16, 1997, the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, an Aryan Nations
"church" in New Vienna, OH, and the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan organized a
rally at the State Capital in Columbus, OH to protest Black History Month. The existence
of the group in the area was publicized in the wake of a shootout in nearby Wilmington, OH
a day prior to the rally between two brothers with ties to the Aryan Nations and police
officers. The two may have been on their way to attend the rally.
Butler has called Hayden lake an otherwise peaceful
community the "international headquarters of the White race." Recently,
though, Butlers organization has suffered from internal difficulties, with several
of its members leaving to form new groups. Carl Franklin, chief of staff for Aryan
Nations, left in 1993 as a result of disagreements with Butler, who had previously named
him his successor. Wayne Jones was security chief at the Aryan compound since the late
1980s and departed along with Franklin. They and two other members moved to western
Montana to form their own white supremacist group called the "Church of Jesus Christ
Christian of Montana."
Following these departures, two more key members, Charles and Betty Tate, left to join
Kirk Lyons, their son-in-law, a North Carolina-based lawyer who has defended right-wing
extremists and has called himself an "active sympathizer" with their causes. In
addition, a one-time Aryan Nations official, Floyd Cochran, has quit the group and
renounced anti-Semitism and racism.
The growing leadership crisis became even more apparent at the annual Aryan Nations
"World Congress" held at the groups compound on July 21-23, 1995.
Attendance was approximately 125. About 25 of these were Skinheads, including a contingent
from a Utah-based Skinhead gang called the Army of Israel. A fistfight broke out over
charges that the wife of Staff Leader Tim Bishop was stealing money from the organization.
The fracas contributed to Bishops decision to resign his post and quit the compound
for Kansas, where he once was Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon.
Adding to the Leadership crisis is the apparent decline of Butlers health,
coupled with is wifes death in December, 1995.
Aryan Nations has been mentioned prominently in connection with one of the incidents
that militia groups cite as evidence of a government conspiracy against citizenry
the 1992 Randy Weaver confrontation in Idaho. Weaver, a white separatist who had
reportedly visited the Aryan Nations compound in the past, resisted an effort by Federal
agents to arrest him at his remote cabin for alleged weapons violations. Weavers
wife and son were killed during the ensuing standoff, along with a deputy U.S. Marshal.
During the siege, groups of Aryan Nations supporters, in addition to Skinheads and other
neo-Nazis, rallied in support of Weaver near his cabin.
The Aryan Nations has for years hosted youth gatherings in its rural Idaho compound.
These events, usually held in April to coincide with Hitlers birthday, have
attracted numerous Skinheads.
The post of successor to Butler remains vacant. It is believed, however, that Louis
Beam, who has been touted in the past as Butlers heir apparent, may step in to fill
the void. Beam, who was David Dukes Texas KKK Grand Dragon in the 1970s, has served
as the Aryan Nations Ambassador-at-Large. He purchased property on the northern Idaho
panhandle not far from the Aryan Nations headquarters at Hayden Lake. He attended a gun
rights rally whose sponsoring group, reports the Spokane Spokesman-Review, included
militia members and sympathizers, and was at a recent Aryan Nations World Congress.
Moreover, he has written in support of "leaderless resistance" a strategy
that calls for the formation of autonomous cells organized around ideology, not leaders,
so as to be better able to carry out actions against perceived enemies with reduced risk
In addition, Beam delivered a rousing speech at the Aryan Nations 1995 World Congress
which bolstered his standing as the number one possibility to succeed Butler.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.