Category: What is the Christian Identity Movement?


The Christian Identity Movement is a name that applies to a variety of different religious cults all identified by racist, anti-Semitic principles. These cults are typically found among radically anti-government, extremist, right-wing groups and “survival groups.” Christian Identity cults are connected by various unbiblical theological similarities, mostly centered on a white supremacist mindset that seeks to replace national Israel with British or American whites as the chosen people of God. This racist theology is followed by over 50,000 people in the United States. The largest Christian Identity Movement group is the infamous Ku Klux Klan.

There are other groups with similar theology to the Christian Identity Movement, including British Israelism (the milder philosophy that gave rise to the Christian Identity theology) and Kinism, but Christian Identity is more virulently racist, and there are other differences. Christian Identity followers believe that the end of the world is going to be preceded by a cleansing war, during which all non-whites will be exterminated. This dangerous and scary mindset has given rise to terrorism and other nefarious behavior from Christian Identity followers. The history and activities of the Christian Identity Movement are extensive, but there are two main perversions of Christian doctrine that have led Christian Identity followers to some very wrong conclusions about the world and about God.

First, the Christian Identity Movement is famous for the idea that the British (and by extension Americans, Canadians, and others) are the spiritual and literal descendants of the 10 lost tribes of ancient Israel. They believe that the white race now represents God’s chosen people, a belief founded in some creative interpretations of migratory history, but not based on fact. The Bible tells us that God will restore Israel, as a nation, to fellowship with Him after protecting them from the many nations that will come against them in the end times. Contrary to the beliefs of the Christian Identity movement, it is clear from the Bible that the nation of Israel will be made of the same ethnic people group that was responsible for Christ’s death, namely, the Jews (Zechariah 12:10).

The second main unbiblical belief held by Christian Identity followers is that the end times and the return of Christ must be “ushered in” by a genocidal war. Interestingly, this belief fits more closely with the teachings of Islam than of Christianity. The Bible teaches that Christ will return to set up His kingdom without the aid of mankind. The aforementioned passage in Zechariah makes this clear, and it is supported in numerous other passages. Revelation 1:7 says that “all tribes” will witness His coming. Titus 2:13 was written by a Jewish man (Paul) to a Jewish church, as they were all joyfully anticipating Jesus’ appearance. There is mention that “wars and rumors of wars” would occur before the end (Matthew 24:6), but there is no indication in Scripture that the Jewish nation would have to first migrate to northern Europe.

Furthermore, there is no biblical reason to believe that non-white races will ever be eliminated by the hand of God or by His true followers. In fact, the New Jerusalem in heaven will house all nations, and the kings of the earth will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it (Revelation 21:22-27).

The Lord has always protected the sojourner and the foreigner (Deuteronomy 27:19; Isaiah 56:1-8) and though He commanded Israel not to marry the daughters of foreigners, and so be tempted to worship their idols, He has always drawn, and will continue to draw, converts from other nations, tribes and tongues (Ruth 1:16-17; Revelation 7:9). What distinguishes these converts from those who reject God is not their skin color, but their acceptance of His offer of forgiveness through the shed blood of Christ on the cross. Favor with God is a matter of the heart, not a matter of race or nationality (Galatians 3:28-29).

a recent national radio program, the host interviewed several Muslims about Islam and terrorism. He asked, “What is it about Islam that seems to attract or instigate violence?” One of the guests immediately responded, “We could ask the same thing about Christianity. After all, the KKK is a Christian organization.”

The issue of the KKK (Ku Klux Klan) and Christianity is somewhat complicated by the fact that the KKK has changed and evolved over the years. There are no KKK groups today that have direct ties to the KKK of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

It is generally recognized that the KKK has had three or four different manifestations. The original Klan was organized after the Civil War during Reconstruction. Many Confederate veterans and other Southerners saw their way of life evaporating before their eyes with “Yankee carpetbaggers” and former slaves taking what they felt to be rightfully theirs. They organized to try to prevent the decline of their culture. That specific incarnation of the Klan faded after Reconstruction.

The second incarnation of the Klan started around the time of World War I. Jobs were scarce in some areas, and many whites felt “their” jobs were being taken by black workers. The Klan was reborn as an organization of intimidation—trying to scare off black workers so that white workers could have the jobs. The intimidation often took the form of violence, including lynchings. The federal government began to focus on and prosecute Klan crimes, and once again the organization faded.

The third incarnation of the Klan came about in the 1950s and ʼ60s as a response to integration and civil rights legislation, seen by many white Southerners as federal intervention. Today’s Klan, which may or may not be directly traceable to the Klan of the ʼ50s and ʼ60s, operates much more like a political party.

KKK is not a trademarked term. Any group can call themselves “KKK” and hold a wide variety of beliefs and practices—just as many divergent groups today would call themselves “Christian.”

The largest KKK-affiliated group today, the Knight’s Party, clearly promotes some themes that would seem to be in line with evangelical Christianity. Their Annual Faith and Freedom Conference is held at Soldiers of the Cross Bible Camp and is billed as “3 Family-Friendly Days.” Activities include Bible studies and gospel music concerts. Guests at the camp are expected to exhibit “Christian behavior.”

The Knights Party website also states that they want to extend the blessings of Christianity to all, regardless of color or race. The Knights require all members to “profess a belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.” The group is pro-life, supports traditional marriage, and promotes home schooling.

The group states that they do not hate other races or religions but emphasizes that the United States was founded as a white Christian (Protestant) nation. They want to restore the foundation that is, in their eyes, being eroded by the increase in the non-white, non-Christian population. Unlike the KKK groups of the past, they disavow hatred and violence. They also disavow white supremacy. They feel that all people and all races in the U.S. will benefit by a return to the foundation—however, they make it clear that the foundation should include a majority white population firmly in control of all aspects of government, society, and culture.

Yes, the Knights Party (and most other KKK groups) claims to be Christian. However, claiming to be Christian is a far different thing from being Christian. Jesus said in Matthew 7:22–23, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” Simply claiming the name of Christ does not mean an individual or an organization is truly Christian.

If the KKK were still involved in lynching, bombing, and blatant white supremacy, it would be easier to answer questions about whether the KKK is a Christian organization. Since most modern KKK groups disavow these things, the answer has to be more carefully nuanced.

Can a group that is truly practicing biblical Christianity exclude people based on their ethnic or racial background? The answer is a definitive “NO.” Central to the truth of the gospel is the acceptance of all races based on faith in Christ. Galatians 2 mentions an incident in which Peter had separated himself from Gentile believers. Paul confronted him, pointing out that Peter’s conduct was contrary to the truth of the gospel (Galatians 2:14). The central issue is that God accepts all people based on faith in Christ, regardless of race or ethnic background. To indicate anything different is essentially a denial of the efficacy of the gospel. The New Testament envisions a church made up of people from every ethnic group joining in praise: “I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’” (Revelation 7:9–10). If this heavenly diversity is God’s goal, no truly Christian organization can make distinctions based on ethnicity.

Christians are admonished to have the same humility and generosity as Jesus: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3–4). If there is anything that comes through loud and clear from today’s Ku Klux Klan groups, it is that they are fighting for the rights of “their people—white people.” A focus on one’s own rights to the neglect or exclusion of the rights of others is inherently unchristian.

To summarize, the KKK of the 19th and 20th centuries was decidedly anti-Christian in its beliefs and actions. While it disavows violence, the modern/current KKK still holds some blatantly unbiblical/unchristian beliefs, and is soundly rejected by every significant Christian denomination.

Armstongism refers to the teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong, which became the teaching of the Worldwide Church of God. These teachings were often at odds with traditional Christian beliefs and at times were explicitly in contradiction to the Bible. The most well-known of Armstrong’s teachings is that of Anglo-Israelism. This is the belief that modern-day Jews are not the true physical descendants of Israel. Armstrong believed the lost tribes of Israel had migrated to Western Europe and that the present day British and Americans were actually the heirs to God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Armstrong believed that this knowledge was the key factor in understanding the prophetic passages of Scripture and that it was his mission to proclaim this message in preparation for the end times.

These beliefs of the Worldwide Church of God were not new and were rooted in an anti-Semitic misinterpretation of Scripture. The Bible is clear that God has not replaced Israel with any other nation and that His plans for Israel are right on schedule and will come to pass after “the fullness of the Gentiles” have come into the Kingdom (Romans 11:25). We can be sure that all God has said is true and will take place, because of His character and consistency (Romans 3:3–4). To attempt to revise God’s plans for both Israel and the Church is to call into question His nature, His sovereignty, His omniscience, and His faithfulness.

In addition, Armstrong taught that at death one is in a sleep-like state until Jesus returns to earth. There would then be three resurrections. The first would be of the faithful Christians. Second would be the bulk of the population who would have a second chance to accept the gospel and be saved, despite the clear teaching of Scripture that there is no “second chance” for salvation after death (Hebrews 9:27). Third would be those that had acted in such a way as to be ineligible for the second chance. They, along with the group from the second resurrection that rejected the gospel, would then be punished. The Worldwide Church of God did not believe in eternal punishment in hell, but rather a complete destruction through fire, i.e., annihilationism. The Bible, however, is clear that there are two resurrections, one to eternal life in heaven for believers and one to eternal damnation for unbelievers (Revelation 20:4–14). Here again, the theories of Armstrongism and the Worldwide Church of God directly contradicted the Word of God.

Armstrong also taught that followers of Christ should remain true to all of the teachings in the Old Testament. Thus, he held the Sabbath to be holy, and in Jewish tradition the Sabbath was observed from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. He further believed that the Old Testament festivals such as Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles must be celebrated. The Worldwide Church of God taught that modern Christians should follow the dietary laws and tithe (up to 30 percent). Armstrongism was only one of many salvation-by-works philosophies that look to the keeping of the Old Testament laws as a means of salvation. But the Bible is clear that the opposite is true. Salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone, because the Law saves no one. “A man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16). Clearly, the philosophies of Armstrongism and the Worldwide Church of God were just that—worldly philosophies that seek to deny the only means of salvation, the exchange at the cross of our sin for the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and replace it with the Old Testament Law, which Jesus came to fulfill because we could not.

Thankfully, Hebert W. Armstrong rejected many of these beliefs and came back to a more orthodox understanding of the Christian faith before his death. Thankfully, the Worldwide Church of God has, for the most part, followed Armstrong’s final example. Armstrong’s successors, Joseph Tkach, Sr., and Joseph Tkach, Jr., have led the Worldwide Church of God in a much more orthodox direction. The organization/denomination now refers to itself as Grace Communion International. A brief history of the transition from Armstrongism to Grace Communion can be found at www.gci.org/aboutus/history. There are some former Worldwide Church of God churches/members who still espouse the unbiblical doctrines of Armstrongism, but, predominantly, Grace Communion International churches are solidly orthodox.

British Israelism, also known as Anglo-Israelism, is the belief that the “lost ten tribes” of Israel migrated to Europe and then to England and became the primary ancestors of the British people and, thereby, the United States. British Israelism was made popular by the Worldwide Church of God and Herbert Armstrong, but other groups have held the doctrine as well.

Is British Israelism true and biblical? In order to determine this, we need to examine the two primary claims: (1) The ten tribes were lost, and (2) the ten tribes migrated to England.

(1) 2 Kings 17:18 states that Israel was deported to Assyria in 722 B.C. After this time, mention of the ten northern tribes (Israel) is rare in Scripture. However, other Scriptures (and historical records) indicate that some of the people of the northern ten tribes remained in the land. Second Chronicles 35:18 records Israel celebrating the Passover with Judah approximately 90 years after the Assyrian deportation. It is likely that many people of the northern ten tribes fled to Judah to escape the Assyrians, and even more fled to the safety of Judah after the Assyrians had ransacked Israel. Second Chronicles 15:9 records people from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon settling in Judah long before the Assyrian invasion. In the New Testament, the prophetess Anna is said to be from the tribe of Asher (Luke 2:36), one of the supposed ten lost tribes. So, yes, many people from the northern ten tribes were deported to Assyria, never to be mentioned again. At the same time, there is sufficient evidence in Scripture to prove that the ten tribes were not lost, but rather rejoined with Judah in the south. It is likely that when Judah was deported by the Babylonians, the people would have sought out the Israelites in Assyria (very near Babylon) and joined with them. In the returns to Israel recorded in Ezra and Nehemiah, the Scriptures nowhere limit the returnees as being entirely from the tribe of Judah.

(2) Is it possible that some of the deported Israelites emigrated to Europe, even England? Yes. It is likely? No. A journey from Assyria to England would have been exceedingly difficult in ancient times, especially for a large number of people. Geographically speaking, Afghan-Israelism and even Japanese-Israelism have a greater possibility of truth. Further, why would Assyria, or later Babylon, or later Persia allow the Israelites to migrate outside of their territories? Further, if the Israelites had the ability to migrate, why would they travel to Europe / England instead of back to their ancestral homeland? So, while it is possible that some Israelites migrated to Europe / England, it is highly unlikely that this occurred to any significant degree.

The primary goal behind British Israelism is to claim that England and the United States have inherited the covenant promises God made to Israel. While England and the United States have been blessed by God in many ways, it is not because God’s promises to Israel have been transferred to those two nations. God’s covenants with Israel always involved the specific land of Israel. Abraham’s descendants would inherit the land. The blessings of God to Israel were always in connection with the specific land that was promised. These promises, therefore, cannot apply to England or the United States, as those two nations do not possess the promised land. Further, while a significant number of Americans have English heritage, there are far more American immigrants from other nations combined than from England.

British Israelism (and other forms of Israelism) should be rejected because it does not have a solid basis biblically or historically.

What is Kinism?

Kinism is one branch of a diverse series of religious movements that promote racial segregation. This movement is based in Christianity and, for the most part, is populated with people who are historic, Calvinistic, orthodox, and Reformed in their doctrinal views. The tendency to adhere to some true doctrines, however, does not mean that Kinists are orthodox in belief and practice. In fact, their adherence to true doctrines, and the extensive theological knowledge of some of the followers of Kinism, makes this legalistic cult all the more dangerous.

It is difficult to get a direct answer about Kinism, because the movement is relatively new and “un-formed” and also because Kinists themselves tend to be quite scholarly and esoteric. But a few things are clear. Unlike the Christian Identity Movement, or the Aryan Nation, Kinists do not believe that non-white races cannot be saved. Also, unlike Anglo-Israelists, they do not believe that national Israel’s true descendants are the British and American people groups.

What makes Kinism different is the belief that God has ordained an order for mankind that goes beyond personal and individual worship. They believe that God has set boundaries for groups of human beings and that human beings should respect those boundaries by maintaining a tribal order. What this means is that you could have a group of white Kinists, and a group of black Kinists, but they would not worship together. They believe that man is usurping God’s authority when they “cohabit” with different races, when (as they say) God has ordained a necessary distinction. In the words of one Kinist, “This [belief] affects our ecclesiology since it would consider a multi-racial, drum-banging mega-church to be a foul stench in God’s nostrils.” Besides being unloving, this assertion is simply unbiblical, promotes a racist point of view, and is a platform for pride and legalism.

Kinists insist on racially segregated churches and communities and, of course, families. They believe that Christians should still adhere to the Old Testament Laws that forbade Jews to intermarry with other tribes/families. They also say that God “separated” the races at the Tower of Babel and that to “re-integrate” is an affront to the order for mankind that He has ordained. Both of these beliefs, despite having a copious amount of scholarly support in Kinist camps, can be easily dismantled with Scripture.

First, to determine whether Old Testament law regarding segregation applies to the New Testament church, we should ask what the reason for segregation was in the Old Testament. God’s reason for this law was very clearly to avoid the introduction/assimilation of pagan idolatry into Jewish society (Malachi 2:11; Deuteronomy 7:3). In the New Testament, with the introduction of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the command to take the good news to the Gentiles, we see a switch from Israel being the only nation acceptable to God, to “any nation that fears Him and does what is right” being acceptable to God (Acts 10:34–35) and part of the body of Christ. The Kinist will agree with this, saying that any person of any race can be a Christian. But he still says that intermarriage is forbidden, although there is no biblical reason for this.

Though national Israel will be restored to God’s favor after the Gentiles have been brought to Him (Romans 11:11–12), the law that says, “Don’t intermarry with foreigners, lest they draw your heart away from God” (Deuteronomy 7:3), is no longer valid because a person could marry a Christian of another race and not be in danger of being drawn away after foreign gods. So, the new command is “don’t intermarry with unbelievers, lest they hinder your walk with God” (2 Corinthians 6:14). Racial segregation is simply no longer necessary, because the church now consists of both Jews and Gentiles who believe in Christ for salvation; in other words, all who have the Spirit are, in a real sense “one brotherhood” (Luke 8:21)

As for God’s action at the Tower of Babel being taken as His ordaining racial segregation, the story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1–9) is about God confusing the languages of men so that they would not be able to work together to accomplish evil against Him. It is not about racial segregation. This is proved by Galatians 2:11–14, where Paul opposes Peter for separating himself from the Gentile believers in their church. Another example would be Paul’s ordaining as a Christian pastor the Greek-born Timothy (2 Timothy 1:6). He even calls Timothy “my true child in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2). Timothy’s mother was Jewish and a woman of the faith. This implies that Timothy lived and ministered in a community that was both Jewish and Gentile. Did his own mother not attend his church? And, if God wished the races to be segregated, which church would Timothy, being half-Jew and half-Gentile, be able to pastor? And what about Paul himself, a “preacher, apostle . . . and teacher of the Gentiles” (1 Timothy 2:7)? If Kinism were true, would not God have sent a Gentile to preach to and teach the Gentiles?

In short, Kinism is simply another attempt to be justified by Law, rather than by the gospel of God’s grace. “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Romans 1:16, emphasis added.)