Albion Monitor /Features
 Freemen: Christian Patriots
Part I

The Gathering Storm

by Paul de Armond

Showing the Freemen as cardboard "extremists," the media has not explored the cohesive ideology and -- more importantly -- theology

The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City came as the latest in a series of rude shocks to America. Starting with the shoot-out at Ruby Ridge which killed a Deputy U.S. Marshal, the young son and the wife of white supremacist Randy Weaver, Christian Patriot white supremacists have been steadily escalating their endless war against American democracy. The battles fought with the Posse Comitatus and the Order a decade ago, are now being joined again with new strategy and tactics.

The formation of armed vigilante groups called "unorganized militias" was first viewed in the media as the ranting of a bunch of gun-nuts and crackpots. A year after the Oklahoma City bombing, the nation is still uninformed about what Christian Patriotism is and where it is leading people.

The long-standing failure of the FBI to arrest the Justus Township Freemen in Jordan, Montana on charges of fraud, forgery, and intimidation of public officials has focussed national attention on the individuals involved. However, the near-total absence of informed public discussion has left most Americans in the dark as to what was really going on with the Freemen, the militias and the Christian Patriot faction of white supremacy. Showing the Freemen as cardboard "extremists," the media has not explored the cohesive ideology and -- more importantly -- the theology that guides Christian Patriotism.

A godly white race descended from Adam and a satanic race fathered by Satan

Americans are amazingly tolerant of diverse religious beliefs. The federal Constitution incorporates the right of dissenting opinion as a basic prerequisite for a democratic republic. Respect for differing religious beliefs is a widely held core American value. Religious con men, charlatans, self-appointed messiahs, frauds, thieves, bigots, crack-pots and cranks have flourished in America as nowhere else. Consulting encyclopedias of religious sects show that America -- and the Los Angeles region in particular -- has produced more religions, sects and cults than any other region of the world. Some minority beliefs can become vastly more influential than mere numbers alone would suggest.

One such religion is Christian Identity. Incorporated in Los Angeles in 1948, Wesley Swift's Church of Jesus Christ Christian was initially an 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.

The function of religion in the lives of these four men was to provide a theological justification for their racism and anti- Semitism. Stated another way, racism and anti-Semitism were their religion. William Gale claimed to have chosen the term "Christian Identity" in 1965, when it was adopted as the name of a newsletter. In Gale's mind, the Identity movement was the glue to hold together racist ideology in the United States. Though he died almost unnoticed in 1987, Gale is the central figure and inspiration for America's present white supremacist movement and Identity doctrine is his legacy to that movement.

Relying mostly on preaching, teaching, radio broadcasts and taped sermons, Gale didn't leave much of a written record behind. This has led to a consistent undervaluation of the central role William Potter Gale played in the formation of Identity, the Posse Comitatus, Aryan Nations, The Committee of the States, the Unorganized Militia and all the rest of the panoply of militant white supremacy in the United States today.

The War of Republic Versus Democracy

Baldly stated, the white supremacist movement seeks to undermine federal authority and bring about the collapse of the United States of America. The destruction of federal power is the prerequisite to establishing a new racial nationalist state. It is highly unlikely that such a thing is within the means of the small number of militant racists, but it is certain that they will continue to use all means at their disposal to pursue that unrealistic goal.

These means include bombings, sabotage, undermining discipline in the armed forces, counterfeiting, tax evasion, bank robbery, subversion of local governments and law enforcement, fraud, and attempts at nuclear, chemical, biological and psychological warfare. Instances of all of these acts have occurred and -- with the exception of an incident involving nuclear or chemical material -- each of these tactics have been employed in the last twelve months.

Two stories filed with the Associated press on April 6, 1996, "From Bombers To Fed-Fearing Freemen, Outlaws Seek Haven In Wild Northwest" and "Beyond Militias: Extremism's Many Faces Vex Anti-Terrorism Efforts" by AP writer David Foster list the following dozen incidents:

  • A pipe bomb exploded outside an office of The Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, Wash. Ten minutes later, gunmen robbed a nearby bank and set off a bomb as they left. No one was injured. The methods and a letter left behind bore similarities to past crimes blamed on white supremacists.

  • A shed packed with explosives, ammunition and guns exploded 60 miles east of Portland, Ore., breaking windows in nearby homes. Shredded bomb-making literature rained down like confetti. A federal firearms charge was filed against the shed's owner, a self-described survivalist.

  • Willie Ray Lampley called himself a "prophet of the most high' and vowed holy war against Jews, gays, abortion doctors and the government. Now Lampley, 65, is standing trial in Oklahoma, accused of plotting with three others to blow up abortion clinics, gay bars and the offices of civil-rights groups.

  • Saboteurs derailed an Amtrak train near Phoenix in October, killing one person and injuring 78. No arrests have been made, but a note at the scene, signed by "Sons of the Gestapo," railed against federal heavy-handedness at Waco and Ruby Ridge.

  • In December, a fertilizer bomb fizzled outside an Internal Revenue Service office in Reno, Nev. Two tax protesters were charged in the bombing attempt. One pleaded guilty, and the other faces trial in June.

  • Two men accused in January of netting more than $250,000 from a string of Midwestern bank robberies may have used the loot to finance a white supremacist militia, officials said. In court papers, one defendant listed his occupation as "revolutionary" and called himself Commander Pedro of the Aryan Republican Army.

  • The standoff that began March 25 between the FBI and Montana Freemen, anti-government activists who set up their own government, wrote millions of dollars in bogus checks and threatened to kill anyone who interfered.

  • Right-wing extremists were suspected of stealing explosives in five states.

  • A tax protester was charged with plotting to blow up an IRS center in Austin, Texas.

  • A white supremacist in Ohio tricked a medical lab into mailing him vials of bubonic plague bacteria.

  • And, of course, the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City.

    The violence of the movement has frequently been ascribed to "loners" and their acts described as "isolated incidents." While the violence may be committed by small groups, and separate attacks are rarely coordinated by a central authority, the pattern of this violent attack upon society comes from a shared and consistent set of beliefs. White supremacy is not monolithic. It has factions and clear distinctions can be drawn between them, but the largest and most active faction has adopted the name "Christian Patriotism."

    Previous Story Next Story

  • Comments? Send a letter to the editor.

    Albion Monitor April 15, 1996 (

    All Rights Reserved.

    Contact for permission to reproduce.

    Front Page