Supremacists Claim Bible Justification

The Florida Times Union, August 14, 1999 | Go to article overview

Supremacists Claim Bible Justification


Buford O'Neal Furrow's shooting spree at a Jewish community center may have come straight from the biblical interpretations of America's white-supremacist movement, but it's not a theology most Christians would recognize.

When Furrow walked into an FBI office in Las Vegas on Wednesday and confessed to gunning down five people at the Los Angeles facility and killing a postal worker, he told authorities he wanted his act to be "a wake-up call to America to kill Jews." He was also charged with killing a Filipino-American postal worker near the community center.

Hate watchers and law-enforcement specialists say they're girding for more such incidents, possibly committed by loners such as Furrow, as 2000 approaches, with its Y2K paranoia, conspiracy theories and millennial fervor.

"When it comes to hate groups that are religiously based, we'll probably see violence from them," predicts Chip Berlet, senior analyst for Political Research Associates.

"Theologically-based hate groups see the millennium as the time to do the right thing," he says. "If you're a racial hate group, the `right thing' is to exterminate Jews and blacks and homosexuals."

In the past two months, rampages in California and the Midwest were attributed to men with ties to white-supremacist groups. Two brothers, Matthew and Tyler Williams, were charged with setting three synagogues afire in June and with killing a gay couple in California.

Benjamin Nathaniel Smith shot himself to death in July after he killed a black man and a Korean man and wounded six Orthodox Jews and a man of Taiwanese descent in Indiana and Illinois, police said.

Some of the most controversial supremacist writings come from Richard Kelly Hoskins, author of Vigilantes of Christendom: The story of the Phineas Priesthood. Another of Hoskins' books was found in Furrow's van.

`PHINEAS PRIEST'

Hoskins' fictional priesthood is named for an Old Testament figure who deflected God's wrath by killing an interracial couple.

"A Phineas priest is by his very existence required to become a terrorist," says Larry Richards, a counterterrorist specialist with a Southern California law-enforcement agency. Richards, who has written about the priesthood philosophy, says he believes officers must be extra vigilant, especially with Phineas adherents, until well into 2000.

Furrow is not the first white supremacist to link racial hatred, God and gunfire.

Phineas Priesthood, Richards says, is "the radical fundamentalist wing" of the Christian Identity movement, whose tenets are shared by most of America's hate groups. Experts estimate the Christian Identity movement has between 25,000 and 50,000 members.

To followers, Christian Identity is a Bible-based religion. Its leaders concentrate their invective primarily on Jews, whom believers have declared the offspring of a sexual liaison between Eve and Satan. …

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