Christian Identity Mythology
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Fri May 26, 2006 at 12:41:17 PM EST
Many people are confused about the relation of Christian Reconstructionism and the Christian Identity movement.

While both Reconstructionists and Identity are part of the Dominionist movement, I see Reconstructionists as the center and Identity as the right wing of the movement.

Christian Identity is the heir of America's militant, racist, white supremacist movement (the KKK, neo-nazis, etc.)  The movement has been heavily influenced by Christian Reconstructionism, but they have their own mythology that few Reconstructionists and few other dominionists share.  

Below the fold is an outline of Christian Identity mythology.


1)  Creation -- the two creation accounts equal two creations of men.

        a.    Genesis 1 tells the creation of a pre-Adamic race (black).

        b.    Genesis 2 tells the creation of the Adamic race (white).

2)          Fall --sexual in nature.

        a.    Eve had sex with Satan (the Serpent) and the offspring was Cain.

        b.    Eve had sex with Adam and the offspring was Abel.

3)    Satan's Seed multiplies.

        a.    Cain slew Abel, was cursed and was banished.

        b.    Cain married a pre-Adamic woman (black).

        c.    The children of Cain (Eve/Satan) and his wife (black) are Satan's Seed.

4)         Adam's Seed multiplies.

        a.    Adam and Eve have other children -- Seth and other sons and daughters.

        b.    Adam's descendants were blessed while Cain's children were cursed.

5)          Satan's Plot.

        a.    From the beginning Satan conspired to steal God's blessing for his seed.

        b.    Intermarriage between his seed (mixed races) and the seed of Adam (the pure white race) is how he plans to steal the blessing for his seed.

6)         The Ten Lost Tribes (appropriation of British Israelism).

        a.    After King Solomon's death the Northern Tribes of Israel separate from the Tribes of Judah and Levi.  They are conquered by the Assyrians in 722 BCE.

        b.    Remnants of these tribes escape to the Caucasius mountains where they maintain their racial purity and migrate to inhabit Western Europe, Britain and America.

        c.    This remnant is the pure seed of Adam (the white race).

7)          The Fall of Judah.

        a.    The kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians in 589 BCE.  They were taken into Babylonian captivity and resisted intermarriage.

        b.    A remnant returned to Palestine and were blessed until Christ was born.  When the Jews rejected Christ, they were judged by God, conquered by the Romans and dispersed.  They lost their purity due to intermarriage.

        c.    The Jews are no longer pure descendants of Adam, they are mongrels who have intermarried with the Seed of Satan.  That makes them Satan's seed.  They are under God's curse, not his blessing.

8)          Purifying the Land -- Holy war/Race war.

        a.    Pure white races are the seed of Adam and Abraham.  All the blessings, birthrights and promises belong to them --particularly possession of the new promised land -- the U.S. and Canada.  

        b.    All mixed and mongrel races are the seed of Satan.  (Blacks, Jews, Asians, Hispanics, etc -- NOTE: they deny they are anti-semitic on the grounds that, in their view, whites are descendants of Noah's son Shem).

        c.   The land must be purged and purified of all mixed and mongrel races in order to bring in God's kingdom.  They are not pre-millenialists or a-millenialists, they are post-millenialists.  They don't expect to be raptured and escape the tribulations of the end times.  They expect to face the tribulations of war and famine and disease while purging and purifying the earth for Christ's return.

        d.  Their eschatology is attractive to some survivalists, militia members, and Christian Reconstructionists.

SOURCES:  Michael Barkun, Religion and the Racist Right:  The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement (University of North Carolina Press, Revised Edition, 1997).  James Aho, The Politics of Righteousness:  Idaho Christian Patriotism (University of Washington Press, 1990) and my own private conversations with people influenced by Christian Identity.

For a more recent treatment see Daniel Levitas, The Terrorist Next Door:  The Militia Movement and the Radical Right (Thomas Dunne Books, 2002)

It's hard to know how influential this mythology is.

Most Dominionists would recoil from this.

I have known lay people who believed it.  One member of a church that I once pastored in Texas told me that he found their literature on a table at a Christian Coalition conference and thought it was widely accepted.

by Mainstream Baptist on Fri May 26, 2006 at 12:49:41 PM EST

Reverend Prescott,

Thank you for clearing that up. I was trying to figure out just where the Christian Identity movement fit into the Dominionist mainstream.

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I go into this in some detail in my article Dominionism and Racism and Justice Sunday III, as well as my article on dominion theology in pente churches, actually.

If anything, "Christian Identity" may have originally started as a split from the pente flavours of dominion theology itself.  Some of the very earliest promoters of what would become known as dominion theology later--and which also formed the basis of "Name it and Claim it"--were racists; William Branham, known as the father of "name it and claim it", was a known Klansman and also promoted a specific idea known as the "Serpent Seed"--the idea that the actual fall of mankind was due to Eve having sexual intercourse with the Serpent, with Cain being the result of that particular mating.  (Christian Identity churches have really run with this, claiming that essentially all non-white people--and especially blacks and Jews--are descended from the "serpent seed".)

The links actually go back even further.  Pentecostalism and the Holiness Movement--and, more disturbingly, Christian Identity--are in large part descended from a movement called "British Israelism"--the idea that the people of Britain, and white people in general, are in fact the ten lost tribes of Israel.   An article discussing an early Assemblies-linked radio-preacher and proto-dominionist, Aimee Semple McPherson, discusses British Israelism in regards to the history of pentecostalism in general and the more dominionist sects (like the Assemblies and Foursquare) in particular:

This Mercaba symbol of the ox, man, lion and eagle are the same symbols used for British Israel, George Jeffrey's Elim Movement, and Aimee Semple Mcpherson's Foursquare.

"...British-Israelism is a religious doctrine first elaborated in 19th century England as a justification for British colonialism. It claimed that the English Anglo-Saxons were one of the so-called "ten lost tribes of Israel," and that the British monarch was the direct descendant of "the throne of King David." In short, the British were "God's Chosen People." The British-Israel movement spread to Canada and the US at the turn of the century.... The Canadian British-Israel Association (CBIA), through its Internet website, sells a wide variety of white racist and anti-Jewish religious propaganda. At least 40 of its books are by Howard Rand and Destiny Publishers. Rand was the major figure in establishing British-Israelism in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s..."

British Israelism spawned the Christian Identity movement, which was incorporated in Los Angeles in 1948. Spawned from it are the Posse Comitatus, Aryan Nations, The Christian Patriot branch, The Committee of the States, the Unorganized Militia and other white supremacy swill.

"...Wesley Swift's Church of Jesus Christ Christian was initially a racist sect which became Christian Identity. The central belief in Identity doctrine is the existence of two races on earth: a godly white race descended from Adam and a satanic race fathered by Satan. Swift, a Klan leader and preacher at Amy Semple McPherson's Foursquare Church in Los Angles, was never able to make much of a success out of his doctrine, but it attracted several people who became central to what was later named "Christian Identity": San Jacinto Capt, William Potter Gale and Richard Girnt Butler."

"Capt was a California Klan leader and a believer in British Israelism, a doctrine which holds that the Israelites of the Bible are not the Jews, but rather Aryan/Anglo-Saxons. Gale was a stock-broker and former Army officer who briefly served on Gen. MacArthur's staff in the Philippines. Gale in turn recruited Butler to Swift's church during the 1950's. In 1970, Swift died, triggering a dispute between Gale and Butler. Ultimately, Butler assumed control and moved the church to Idaho, where he renamed it Aryan Nations - Church of Jesus Christ Christian." 69.

Along with Charles Parham, William Branham, reportedly also KKK, taught the "two seed" theory.

    * "Now remember, Satan's son was Cain..."
    * "Now remember that Eve got pregnant by Satan, and in the same day..." 70.

The "two seed" theory can be found in a number of variations, however it, " the central tenet of Identity doctrine and the basic justification for Christian Patriots' racism and anti-Semitism. The essence of the "two seed" theory is that there are two races on earth: one godly and one satanic."

"According to the racist and anti-Semitic "two seed" theory, the white "Adamic" peoples descended from the union of Adam and Eve. But there was also another race beginning with Cain whose father was not Adam, but Satan -- who mated with Eve in the guise of a serpent. The descendants of Cain became known as the Jews. The Adamic peoples became the Aryans or Anglo-Saxons. The Pre-Adamic (non-white) races were not human at all, but descendants of the "beasts of the fields" described in Genesis, without souls and no more than cattle in the eyes of their Aryan betters. All three races could interbreed, but the non-Adamic blood acted like a poison to exterminate the Aryan race. In the eyes of white supremacists, race-mixing became a Satanic plot to exterminate God's chosen people, the white race."

"By the "two seed" theory, Jesus was not a Jew, but an Aryan. The Adamic (Aryan) people were the lost tribes of Israel, fled to northern Europe and later became the Christian nations. There are many corollaries to the "two seed" theory which provide justification for racists to claim God's favor..."71

Charles Fox Parham (who, interestingly, has been the subject of quite a bit of revisionist press in the dominionist community) is often regarded as the father of pentecostalism in general, and was influential in the Assemblies in particular; Branham, as noted above, essentially invented "name it and claim it" and laid the initial basis for dominion theology.  Parham was also a particularly vicious racist; he condemned the Azusa Street Revival as a "darky" tent-meeting, among other things (although the theology he and Azusa preached were almost identical) and was also reportedly a Klan member (in fact, his Klan membership and his membership in the Freemasons are the two most common bits of his history in which "historical revisionism" occurs in dominionist circles).

In dominion theology circles, the "serpent seed" theory is used mostly to promote an odd form of predestination in that people who reject dominionism are seen as literal descendents of the devil.  (This is expressed more frankly in "spiritual warfare" movements, in which everyone outside the group is seen as Satanic.)

In the case of racist groups like Christian Identity, they've used the "Serpent Seed" theology to base their own racist beliefs on.

Also, the idea in "Christian Zionist" circles in dominionism--taken to its biggest extremes in "Third Wave" pentecostalism--that both the Jews and the dominionists are "God's chosen people" ultimately has its roots in British Israelism, though the roots are far back enough that most people don't realise that's where the concept of "two chosen peoples" comes from.  

So the actual family tree goes something like this:

British Israelism -> Holiness Movement -> Pentecostalism

Pentecostalism -> dominion theology and related movements ("Name it and claim it", "deliverance ministry", "spiritual warfare" movements)

Pentecostalism + known racists in movement (Klan, etc.) -> early Christian Identity movement

"Fundamentalist Baptist" groups -> Christian Reconstructionism (along similar evolutionary lines of dominion theology within pente groups)

Christian Reconstructionism + dominion theology (and in particular "spiritual warfare" theology) -> modern "Christian Nationalist" movement (actually two movements with fair amount of cross-fertilisation)

Early Christian Identity + crossfertilisation from "dominion theology" movement and especially Christian Reconstructionism -> modern Christian Identity (per Wikipedia article on dominion theology, this is explicitly acknowledged by Identity promoters)

It also is of note that proto-dominionist groups in the 1910's through 1940's were often not only racist but frankly anti-Semitic to boot.  This did specifically include people within the pente movement of the time, as well as "fundamentalist Baptist" groups springing up.  There always were a lot of racists in the movement; some just split to an explicitly racist theology later.

by dogemperor on Fri May 26, 2006 at 02:17:50 PM EST

I didn't realize that "serpent seed" theology had such a long lineage.

by Mainstream Baptist on Fri May 26, 2006 at 03:03:43 PM EST
A lot of people are surprised at the length of time this pap has been promoted; even more are surprised to find that the actual lineage of Christian Identity is as a descendant of dominionism itself (in fact, one could even theoretically argue--though even I tend to put this as a stretch--that Christian Identity is essentially a "granddaughter" church of the Grand-daddy of All Pente Dominionist Churches; Christian Identity started out with people involved in Foursquare which is itself a daughter-church of the Assemblies) and that the origins of one of the most pernicious beliefs in Christian Identity have the very same origins as the "name it and claim it" pap that televangelists and megachurches promote.

A very good argument can be made that Christian Identity is itself a split off of dominion theology with a lot of back-breeding (especially through "Christian Patriot" and "Christian Militia" groups) with both pente-style dominion theology and Christian Reconstructionism.  In fact, the split dates from around the same time as when dominion theology really took hold, and came from a lot of the same movements.

(Incidentially, yes, this was one of the Biggies that led me to walking away and realising something was very broken.  Some of the links between dominionism and racism exposed by a book from the Simon Wiesenthal Center really started making me question things.)

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by Tenoch on Sat May 27, 2006 at 04:42:02 PM EST

I have a question that may seem a little shortsighted, so please forgive me.  If God created non-whites and then created whites, what color is God?

by optimistic on Sat May 27, 2006 at 10:22:08 PM EST
................. If I wanted to be flip, I'd try to draw a lame analogy to the T-shirt logo that used to show up from time to time back when I was in college:


But since I'm never flip, I won't.

by anomalous4 on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 02:18:23 PM EST

These groups' blatantly racist [insert favorite abomination here] is doubly horrifying to me personally since my sister really DID "marry one" and I belong to a very happy mixed-race family. Imagining what might happen to my loved ones (and quite likely to me because I associate with them) if these people got hold of any real power makes not only my hair but my very skin stand on end.

I beg everyone's pardon. My "flipness" frequently tends to run away with me. I apologize and will try to hold it to a minimum in the future............

by anomalous4 on Tue Jun 06, 2006 at 02:39:25 PM EST

I'm of the opinion with such depressing subjects as these, sometimes a little "banishing by laughter" is needed at any rate.

But yeah, it scares me too--not just because of the racialist angle of "Serpent Seed" theory (the "theory" was designed by a Klansman, it should be noted, and has been used as a theological basis for hate by Klan members) but the pente variants of "Serpent Seed" actually target pretty much anyone who is an active opponent of dominionism.

This means, quite specifically, us walkaways--people who have seen the abuse of these groups firsthand and are some of the very best sources of info on what goes on "inside" and revealing the abusiveness to Outside--are right in the gunsights if they get sufficient control.  (Literally, walkaways at best tend to be accused of "blaspheming the Holy Ghost" which is considered the one unforgivable sin--that is, if they aren't "exorcised" and broken.  Quite often, they are equated with active diabolists.)

I honestly hope I never have to use it, but I do have a contingency plan in place that if things get so bad that dominionists get sufficient control over the US to start targeting critics legally--I've come to terms that if things get THAT bad, I may have to leave the US and request asylum elsewhere, as my life would be at grave threat as a walkaway.  (Again, I hope things never get that bad, and I'm busting my chops here to make sure as best I can that they DON'T get that bad.  And I do think we're making progress--people are becoming more aware at any rate.)

Part of the reason I actually post pseudonymously is because as is myself and my family could be at threat if my RL identity became known (the group I'm a walkaway from has a history of occasionally vicious harassment and dead-agenting ("character assassination" of the sort that can lead to loss of job, etc.) of critics--for example, they have picketed homes of persons who merely expressed support for Fairness ordinances and leafletted their neighbourhoods with flyers claiming they supported paedophilia).

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