Articles United States

Christian Identity (Analysis by Serena Dietrich)

Saturday, February 20th, 2016

Group Name: Christian Identity (various groups)

Principal Ideology: White supremacy, mistrust of government

Area of Operation: Throughout the United States, Canada, South Africa and Australia

Leadership: Richard Butler (deceased), Dan Gayman, Ted Weiland and various religious-social leaders

Affiliated groups: Posse Comitatus, Church of Jesus Christ Christian-Aryan Nations, Aryan Nations, The Order, Ku Klux Klan

Principal enemy: Varies among groups, but principally Jews, African- Americans, homosexuals, government leaders

Tactics: Promotional/persuasive literature, nurturing paranoia, intermittent violence toward minorities, planned attacks

“Christian Identity” is a term used to describe a variety of groups that promote the supremacy of Whites as God’s true chosen people.[1] Generally, adherents believe that English, American, and other White Caucasians are the literal descendants of the “lost tribes” of Israel, consigning Jewish individuals to an inferior status that resulted from a sexual union between Biblical Eve, and Satan.[2] With roots in the British-Israel movement of the 19th century,[3] Christian Identity concepts spread to the United States, finding a place in the pulpit[4] and in religious-social groups such as Posse Comitatus[5] and the Church of Jesus Christ Christian-Aryan Nations.[6] Groups that promote self-reliance, militias, and those that resent perceived government interference in everyday life are sometimes also lumped together under a broad definition of Christian Identity.[7] While care must be taken to independently evaluate each group associated with Christian Identity, recent national controversies might play right into a given group’s paranoia about the need to defend their rights. The election and re-election of an African-American President, school shootings that touch off widespread debate about gun control, or health care legal decisions that ignite the topic of abortion might push a previously law-abiding organization into taking action to “protect” itself.   Given this potential motivation for action, and the relative ease with which disparate groups may coordinate their efforts in the highly “connected” era of the 21st century, it is prudent for the United States homeland security enterprise to continue monitoring Christian Identity groups for criminal activity.


Sovereign Citizens (Analysis by Craig Mohar)

Saturday, February 20th, 2016

Group Name: Sovereign Citizens

Principal Ideology:
Anti-government – based on various conspiracy theories

Area of Operation:
United States

Leadership: Loosely connected coalition of self-appointed gurus

Affiliated Groups: Patriot/Militia and Tax Protestor Movements

Principal Enemy:
Federal government, especially law enforcement

Primarily white collar crime and fraudulent lawsuits

Sovereign citizens are members of an extreme anti-government movement who believe government has no legal authority.[1] Because they “believe federal, state and local governments operate illegally,” they can be an extremely dangerous group for law enforcement and public government agencies.[2] The FBI considers the sovereign citizens a domestic terrorist movement.[3] According to the FBI, “Sovereign citizens do not represent an anarchist group, nor are they a militia. Rather they operate as individuals without established leadership.”[4] They refer to themselves as “constitutionalists” or “freemen” in reference to their belief they are free from government control.[5] According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the structure of their “movement is that of a large mass of individuals or loosely aligned and informal ad/hoc groups, led by a number of sovereign citizen ‘gurus,’ who provide leadership and inspiration as well as new sovereign citizen ideas and tactics.”[6]


Army of God (Analysis by Michelle Mallek)

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

Group Name: Army of God

Principal ideology: Christian

Area of Operation: United States

Leadership: Leaderless; Donald Spitz as spokesperson and webmaster

Affiliated groups: American Coalition of Life Activists, Operation Rescue

Principal enemy: Abortion doctors, staff, clinic escorts, and hospitals

Tactics: Murder, assault, kidnapping, arson, bombing, property damage, threats (anthrax, bombs, death)

Army of God (AOG) is an American, Christian extremist and sometime terrorist organization that uses violence, threats, and property damage in attempts to abolish abortion. Authorities first documented AOG violence in 1982, and AOG remains vocal today.[1] The group’s goal is to achieve two limited goals.[2] The first consists of saving “The Innocents,” that is, conceived yet unborn children, from what the group perceives as state-sanctioned mass murder. The second goal is that of shaping the U.S. into what AOG considers to be a more Christian nation.[3]

The group’s name itself is informative. It reveals that the group views its clandestine in-group as an “army,” e.g., a large group of soldiers organized to fight battles.[4] This army’s service is directed toward rescuing a number of self-defined clients. Specifically, those clients include the “mommies” the AOG views as the protective vessels carrying abortion-endangered fetuses,[5] and ultimately “The Innocents,” e.g., “preborn children.”[6]