Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement

Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement

Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement

Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement

Synopsis

According to Michael Barkun, many white supremacist groups of the radical right are deeply committed to the distinctive but little-recognized religious position known as Christian Identity. In "Religion and the Racist Right" (1994), Barkun provided the first sustained exploration of the ideological and organizational development of the Christian Identity movement. In a new chapter written for the revised edition, he traces the role of Christian Identity figures in the dramatic events of the first half of the 1990s, from the Oklahoma City bombing and the rise of the militia movement to the Freemen standoff in Montana. He also explores the government's evolving response to these challenges to the legitimacy of the state. Michael Barkun is professor of political science in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. He is author of several books, including "Crucible of the Millennium: The Burned-over District of New York in the 1840s."

Excerpt

Although less than three years have passed since this work was first published, a revised edition is already necessary. In the interim, the hermetic subculture of the radical right has lost much of its isolation. Its current notoriety was thrust upon it in April 1995 by the Oklahoma City bombing. At the same time, the rise of the militias and the spread of belief in a New World Order conspiracy have taken the radical right's worldview at least part way into mainstream American politics.

The full text of the original edition appears here unchanged, including the conclusion, chapter 12. I have had no reason to alter my original views concerning Identity's importance and its capacity for rapid transformation. However, the bombing and the sudden national awareness of the radical right make the inclusion of a new concluding chapter imperative. The new material in chapter 13, Epilogue: Oklahoma City and the Rise of the Militias," extends the themes discussed in the first edition by taking the story up to mid- 1996. The first half of the 1990s saw not only the Oklahoma City bombing but also a surge of paramilitary organizing, a rising fear of New World Order plots, and an obsessive concern for movement martyrs, including those who died at Waco, Texas.

In hindsight, the original text survived these events remarkably well. However, subsequent research has shed new light on three earlier points that are worth noting here. In chapter 4, I suggested but was unable to document the existence of early links between Christian Identity and American neo- Nazis. A forthcoming biography of George Lincoln Rockwell by Frederick J. Simonelli will amply describe the connection. Research underway in Canada suggests that it will soon be possible to identify the pseudonymous author of the apocalyptic novel When? discussed in chapters 4, 7, and 8. Finally, chapter 10 minimized the likelihood that Reconstructionist theology had influenced Identity. However, Jeffrey Kaplan has drawn my attention to the recent impact of Reconstructionist ideas on Dan Gayman and other Identity figures.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.