"Identity" Movement

Psychological Manipulation, cult groups, sects, and new religious movements

Essay: "Identity" Movement Called Cultic

Hal Mansfield, M.A.
Cult Observer, Volume 14, No. 4, 1997

When people first hear the term Christian Identity, they think that it refers to another Christian denomination, such as Methodist or Baptist. This confusion enables racial supremacists to provide a "religious" cover for their views. The basic belief of the Christian Identity movement is that the Jews are descendants of Satan, and that the real Israelites are the English

speaking and Germanic tribes. This idea is derived from the teaching that after the Assyrian captivity the scattered tribes in the Caucasus Mountains, who later settled Europe, were the true Israelites. Blacks, Asians, and other minorities are considered pre Adam, that is, inferior creations. Some Identity groups have decided that minorities are on the same level as animals, and therefore have no soul. There are variations in teachings with different Identity Churches. Some advocate separation of all the races, while others call for the extermination of all nonwhites.

There seem to be two basic theological paths in Identity. One believes the word Jew is derived from Judah. The tribe of Judah lost its heritage by mixing with the Babylonians and adapting parts of other religions. People following this path many times refer to a Jew as an Edomite. The second path, which is by far the more popular, teaches that Jesus, when talking about the Jews, was literally talking about the descendants of the Devil. Since the Devil is a liar and a murderer, Jews are liars and murderers like their father. According to this belief, Jews became descendants of Satan when Satan seduced Eve and Eve gave birth to Cain. Satanís plans are to destroy the pure white race by causing other races (called "mud people ) to sexually mix with the white race.

Ku Klux Klan members and neo Nazi followers appear to be strongly attracted to this "religion." In fact, one often observes dual or even triple memberships in these organizations. This makes it difficult to measure how many people actually belong to these groups, since one may be counting the same nose three times.

Lately, there seems to have been an upsurge of recruitment into Identity churches. These groups are trying to draw in the more mainstream middle class, and are having some success. When approached by one of their recruiters, one doesnít hear about supremacy issues. Instead, talk centers around gun control and other more mainstream issues. Later, the true agendas are presented, after the organization has had time to gain the personís trust and determine if he or she is open to their racist views.

Much current recruitment seems to revolve around survival materials, especially at exhibitions such as recently occurred in Denver. A wide range of people attend these exhibitions. Some fear that the end of the world is imminent and are waiting for the government to collapse. Others just want to buy materials to be self sufficient. At these exhibitions an Identity group member manning a booth will display materials of general interest. When people stop by the booth and talk to the operator, he or she will size a person up to determine if he or she might be recruitment material. If the prospect is deemed to be a possible member, he or she will be given other publications, which are stored under the table.

Another popular means of recruitment is through the sale of audio and videotapes. The recruiter will approach prospects and ask them to view a tape that has some "stuff" on it, and have the persons give their opinions. Most of the issues on this tape will be of no particular interest to the Identity movement. But if the prospect shows an interest in the one or two that do concern Identity group members, then the recruitment process will go to the next stage, namely, to convince the person that he or she "thinks like we do." If the recruit continues to show interest, he or she will over time be introduced to other issues and ultimately indoctrinated into the Identity philosophy.

As with many cultic groups, supremacists keep people from testing their beliefs against reality by cutting them off from all contact with outside ideas. Members are told that all media and the government are controlled by ZOG, which stands for Zionist Occupied Government. Members are told that Jews control the media and government, that Jews canít be trusted, and that one shouldnít associate with race traitors or mud races (mud races are any race other than white). Once this belief is accepted, members rely only on their leader for "true" information. Many families involved with these groups have broken up when spouses have objected to having outside contact. Again, the similarity with many cultic groups is evident.

Many communities don't realize that they have Identity churches in their midst. Typically, an Identity group will look and sound like a fundamentalist Bible church, masking what they are really about. Most take an anti-gay stance in the community; some on the extreme side. These groups may also take hard-line stances on other issues, such as obscenity or teen pregnancy, in order to create the false impression that they are just fundamentalist preachers, when in fact they are supremacists. The community may object to this kind of rhetoric on issues, but may not know there is a supremacy agenda behind it. In fact, in many cases, communities aren't aware of these groups until they are well entrenched. Like David Duke, a Ku Klux Klan leader who won a seat in the Louisiana legislature, supremacists have learned that they can gain power by looking like the rest of their host communities.

Not surprisingly, there is considerable crossover in membership from the KKK to Identity groups and some of the Militia and Patriot movements. These ties have given supremacists access to people with weapons and violent agendas. This is a problem that will continue well beyond the year 2000.

Hal Mansfield is the director of the Religious Movements Resource Center in Fort Collins, Colorado.