A recent spate of crimes points up a growing connection - one that
is troubling to many Americans - between hateful actions and
organizations calling themselves churches.
Two brothers from northern California reportedly linked to such a
group were charged this week for the killing of two gay men near
Redding. Benjamin Matthew Williams and James Tyler Williams also are
suspects in the firebombing of three synagogues in the Sacramento
area last month.
According to personal acquaintances as well as law enforcement
officials, the Williams brothers were involved in Christian Identity,
a religion that holds Jews and nonwhites to be subhuman and is
closely tied to the Aryan Nations white-supremacist group based in
Meanwhile, officials are investigating the links between Benjamin
Smith and the World Church of the Creator. Over Independence Day
weekend in Illinois and Indiana, Mr. Smith shot Asians, Jews, and an
African-American (killing two and injuring nine) before killing
The World Church of the Creator, founded by an avowed atheist,
publishes "The White Man's Bible." In the book, "the Mud Races"
(nonwhites) are denounced, and "what is good for the White Race" is
proclaimed "the highest virtue ... what is bad for the White Race ...
the ultimate sin." According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the
East Peoria, Ill.-based organization advocates deportation of Jews
and nonwhites and calls for "RAHOWA" - the acronym standing for
Racial Holy War and frequently associated with racist skinheads.
David Neiwert, Seattle-based author of the recent book "In God's
Country: The Patriot Movement and the Pacific Northwest," sees
Christian Identity as the thread connecting otherwise distinct
"Adherence to it is probably the single greatest common
denominator among all the various fragmented factions of the radical
right wing in America," he writes. "It is practiced by the neo-Nazis
of the Aryan Nations, by the leaders of the Militia of Montana, and
by the remnants of the Ku Klux Klan in the South."
He describes Christian Identity's core beliefs as "so far astray
from those of mainstream Christianity - and so repellent to average
Americans - that they induce in the religion's followers a cult-like
closed mind-set: a sense of persecution coupled with self-
Eric Rudolph, wanted by authorities for the bombing of the 1996
Olympic summer games in Atlanta and attacks on clinics that performed
abortions, reportedly is a Christian Identity believer.
While such thinking typically is associated with the Klan in the
South and neo-Nazis in the Pacific Northwest, it is by no means
confined to these regions.
The Center for New Community, a faith-based community-organizing
group in Oak Park, Ill., reports that there are 272 hate groups in
the Midwest, including those with ties to Christian Identity. More
than a dozen white-supremacist factions have been identified in
southwest Missouri alone. In all, there are estimated to be about 90
Christian Identity ministries in 34 states.
Hate crimes against Latinos
The National Council of La Raza reported this week that hate
crimes against Latinos have been steadily climbing in recent years.
"The perception that Latinos are 'foreign,' 'un-American' or illegal
immigrants has translated into numerous incidents of discrimination,
threats and actual violence," the civil rights group reported at its
annual meeting in Houston. To what degree these incidents (estimated
to total more than 600 a year) are tied to hateful religious beliefs
is unclear. But Christian Identity literature - which speaks
disparagingly of "mestizos" - indicates that they well could be.
Just this week, for instance, Jules Fettu, former Florida director of
the World Church of the Creator, was convicted of a hate crime for
beating a man of Cuban descent. …