America's Secret Jihad: The Hidden History of Religious Terrorism in the United States(2015)
the CHRISTIAN IDENTITY MOVEMENT
For all the national outrage stemming from the 1957-1958 wave of anti-Jewish bombings, and despite several arrests, no one went to prison for any crimes. The Confederate Underground, and its informal leader J.B. Stoner, escaped justice.
But the attacks did spark a bout of national soul searching on the issue of anti-Semitic and racial violence in the 1950s. Some legislators openly condemned racial violence in the South, and President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1960, which among other things authorized federal agents to investigate the bombing of educational and religious institutions if authorities suspected that the perpetrators had fled across state lines. Congress also began to investigate the acts of violence. In a debate on the Senate floor, Senator Kenneth Keating listed eighty acts of domestic terrorism—many bombings and arson attacks on black targets—from 1955 to 1960. Of the eighty attacks, sixteen could be directly or indirectly traced to one group, the National States Rights Party (NSRP).1 Formed in 1958 by Stoner and Fields, the NSRP became an important focus for law enforcement. In a report, the FBI noted:
The National States Rights Party (NSRP) was created in July, 1958, from remnants of such segregationist and/or anti-Semitic organizations as the United White Party, the Christian Anti-Jewish Party, the Columbians, several Klan groups, and representatives of the States Rights Party. At the time the NSRP was organized, one of its founders, Jesse Stoner, observed: “The name of the National States Rights Party will sound so mild that a man belonging to it will not worry about his job.”2
The NSRP’s loci of operation logically paralleled the activities of its pro-integration rivals: the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Notably, by the early 1960s, Stoner and Fields had moved their base of operations to Birmingham, Alabama, at that time the site of America’s most public civil rights battles.
With the shift in geographic focus, it appeared as if the NSRP had shifted its tactical focus from organized acts of terrorism to political activism. As the civil rights movement picked up nationwide momentum, Stoner and Fields directed their recently formed group toward counter-rallies, protests, and general agitation against groups that advocated for civil rights. But unlike most of its pro-integration rivals, the NSRP was far from Gandhian in its approach to civic participation.
Time and time again, NSRP members responded to nonviolence with violence. When volunteers from CORE launched a series of Freedom Rides to expose the lack of constitutionally mandated integration in America’s public bus stations, a mob of racists met participants at their first stop in the Deep South: Anniston, Alabama. Led by local KKK leader Kenneth Adams, the mob surrounded one Freedom Rider bus and slashed its tires. Later the mob forced another bus off the road, firebombed it, and beat the escaping activists.3 Many note Adams’s KKK affiliations but fail to note that he was a leading member of the NSRP in a city, Anniston, that was in essence the weapons depot for the national organization. Racists from the NSRP joined other KKK rowdies and met that same group of Freedom Riders when the activists reached their next bus terminal, in Birmingham, Alabama. This mob assaulted and beat the Freedom Riders (some into unconsciousness) with wooden sticks and metal pipes.
As the civil rights movement began to make gains in Alabama through the collective efforts of leaders like the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and Martin Luther King Jr., the NSRP increased the intensity of its response. A notable example was the NSRP’s reaction, in September 1963, to a court order and local mandates to desegregate Alabama’s public schools. Police stopped one car of students belonging to a caravan of some 150 teenagers on their way to an NSRP-sponsored counter-protest at a Birmingham high school. From this car, police confiscated a pistol, a straight razor, a bailing hook, and a sawed-off shotgun.4
Stoner and Fields increasingly began to see how they could harness the toxic combination of youthful arrogance, neo-Confederate racism, and male testosterone. More than anything, this concept was obvious in Stoner’s approach to counter-rallies and counter-protests. Stoner, with his close colleague Charles “Connie” Lynch, toured various cities that were home to civil rights struggles. There the two men became what author Patsy Sims refers to in her book The Klan as “a two-man riot squad.” More than anyone, it was Lynch, a southern California native who traveled in a pink Cadillac and wore a jacket of stitched-together Confederate flags, who inflamed audiences, often to actual acts of violence. As Sims describes it:
Lynch once told a Baltimore rally crowd: “I represent God, the white race and constitutional government, and everyone who doesn’t like that can go straight to hell. I’m not inciting you to riot—I’m inciting you to victory!” His audience responded by chanting, “Kill the niggers! Kill! Kill!” After the rally, stirred-up white youths headed for the city’s slums, attacking blacks with fists and bottles. At another rally in Berea, Kentucky, Lynch’s diatribe was followed by two fatal shootings. Again, in Anniston, Alabama, he goaded his audience: “If it takes killing to get the Negroes out of the white’s man’s streets and to protect our constitutional rights, I say, ‘Yes, kill them!’” A carload of men left the rally and gunned down a black man on a stretch of highway.5
The most notable example of the rabble-rousing incited by Lynch and Stoner came in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1964. Stoner and Lynch joined regional NSRP leader Oren Potito as he fought efforts to desegregate a city that was on the edge of widespread civil disorder and violence. Lynch especially pushed local segregationists over the edge. Following one Lynch rant, young segregationists attacked a protest march of nearly two hundred blacks. In one diatribe, Lynch specifically called out a local civil rights leader Robert Hayling. “If you were half the men you claimed to be,” Lynch insisted, “you’d kill him before sunup.” Four men kidnapped Hayling and three colleagues, brought their victims to the rally, proceeded to beat them to unconsciousness and nearly burned them to death. Lynch and Stoner earned a reputation for demagoguery that alarmed even Klan leaders. As Sims notes, during race rioting in Bogalusa, Louisiana, the local Grand Dragon tried to run both men out of town.6
Often Stoner played a secondary role as an agitator but a primary role as a lawyer, defending his friend Lynch against charges of incitement; Connie Lynch spent very little time in jail. Soon Stoner found himself defending fellow racists and NSRP members across the nation. He even extended the group’s influence into Canada. While it rarely had more than 150 active members, the NSRP established franchises in more than a dozen states across the union, often run by very young members trained under Fields and Stoner in Birmingham. These members included James P. Thornton, who helped grow the NSRP in California with the assistance of retired colonel William Potter Gale and Neuman Britton, who ran the NSRP offshoot in Arkansas. Another nexus of NSRP leaders came from Florida. They had fled the Sunshine State for other places in the Southeast, in part to escape the scrutiny of local law enforcement after the violence in St. Augustine. One example was Sidney Crockett Barnes, a painter and suspected bomb maker, who fled to Mobile, Alabama, joining a preexisting contingent of NSRP exiles from Florida, including a future member of Mobile’s White Citizens Council, Noah Jefferson Carden.7
But Stoner and Fields also parlayed the NSRP’s growing membership and influence into more conventional expressions of political dissent. In 1960 the group nominated two candidates for office in the U.S. presidential election: Arkansas governor Orval Faubus at the top of the ticket and Admiral John C. Crommelin, of Montgomery, Alabama, as the vice presidential candidate. Faubus had virtually no connection to the NSRP but had earned a national profile among racists for his open resistance to federally imposed integration efforts. In the unusual role of a write-in nominee, Faubus never agreed to his nomination; nor did he actively campaign for office. But Crommelin was another story. A World War II naval hero from an illustrious family line of naval officers, Crommelin arguably became the most well-known public anti-Semite in America in the 1950s, meriting the label “most serious threat to Jewish security in the southern states.”8 By 1964 Crommelin had already failed to win the Democratic primary to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate four times and had lost a 1958 bid to be governor of the Yellowhammer State. Referring constantly to a Jewish-led communist conspiracy to subvert the United States, he also echoed the literal party line of the NSRP: that the civil rights movement was part of that conspiracy. Together, Faubus and Crommelin received less than 0.1 percent of the national popular vote. Undeterred, Stoner himself joined a presidential ticket in 1964, as the vice presidential candidate, with his old friend from Tennessee, John Kasper, as the NSRP’s presidential hopeful. It would be one among many unsuccessful political bids for Stoner, as the pair earned even fewer votes than the Faubus-Crommelin ticket.9, 10, 11
The NSRP’s candidates focused most of their attention on their pro-segregation agenda, perhaps because they saw what impact overt and strident racism and anti-Semitism had on a campaign for national office. Crommelin’s 1962 campaign for Alabama Senate had included “5 sound trucks all over the state blasting away the Christian message that Communism is Jewish from start to finish and that racial integration of … White people is a Jewish directed scheme to mongrelize the White Race, so that the almighty Jew can sit upon a throne to rule a world populated by a mass of mulatto like zombies.”12 Crommelin lost in landslides in each primary, never coming closer than third place.
In the 1964 race for the presidency, the Kasper-Stoner ticket tended to present its agenda in racist code, referencing states’ rights, constitutional conservatism, anti-communism, and national sovereignty (meaning opposition to the United Nations). Many saw through this facade. A Florida state legislative committee, lamenting the agitation and violence that Stoner and Lynch had brought to St. Augustine, noted: “Today’s hawkers of hate have made capital of hiding behind the facade of conservatism and waving the banner of anticommunism. With their bigotry thus cloaked, they have made converts who unwittingly serve to undermine the causes in which they believe.”13
But the racism and anti-Semitism attributed to the NSRP by the committee only spoke to the by-products of what these men devoutly believed. A closer examination of the NSRP reveals a web of associations and group affiliations, and ultimately a commonly held and obscured agenda, that only a few understand. Virtually every senior leader of the NSRP just mentioned was also a devout follower of the Christian Identity religion. Lynch, Potito, Gale, Barnes, and Britton all became ordained ministers in the Reverend Wesley Swift’s Church of Jesus Christ-Christian. Gale, in fact, was among Swift’s closest aides and advisors and was frequently pictured wearing a priest’s collar. When he waged his 1962 campaign for the Alabama U.S. Senate nomination, Crommelin invited five Identity ministers, including Swift himself, to openly campaign for him. Potito served as Crommelin’s campaign manager. Others, including Kasper, Fields, Thornton, and Carden, were all on the mailing list to receive tapes of Swift’s CI sermons. Stoner and Fields appointed Gordon Winrod as the NSRP’s official pastor; Winrod, along with his father and son, belongs to three generations of Christian Identity ministers. Stoner was on an FBI list of Identity followers as late as 1974.
These individuals were not simply cogs in the NSRP machinery. In many cases they affiliated with, led, and founded concurrent white supremacist organizations that ranked among the most active purveyors of violence in America from 1960 through 1980; offshoots of those organizations promote and participate in violence to this day. A list of such groups, circa 1972, includes:
The Minutemen (not to be confused with the present-day citizens’ border patrol group), which openly advocated the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. Several Christian Identity devotees, including Lynch, Dennis Mower, and Kenneth Goff, assumed key roles in the group.
The California Rangers, an early antecedent to modern-day militia groups, which was started, organized, and managed by Gale and Thornton.
The Posse Comitatus, organized by Gale, a militant anti-tax and antigovernment group.
Various Ku Klux Klan factions, most notably the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi, the most violent KKK subgroup, led by Sam Bowers, a Christian Identity militant.
The violence these groups wrought on the United States is well documented and extensive. In many ways, the plots they considered but failed to execute are downright frightening. But scholars have failed to see the interactions and connections between members of these various groups—a protean social network of the most hardcore white supremacists America has ever produced. In failing to see the depth of these connections, scholars have also understated the common bond of solidarity that united these men: a radical strain of an offshoot Christian sect that predated the factious violence of the 1960s by more than one hundred years and that did not even originate in America.
The theological school now called Christian Identity traces its roots back several hundred years, to when the “discovery” of the Americas fueled speculation about biblical history, specifically the destiny of the so-called ten lost tribes of Israel. Its most recognizable incarnation developed in Victorian England as an idea known as British Israelism. At the turn of the twentieth century, the idea spread to North America. There, throughout the 1920s and 1930s, it assumed an Ameri-centric hue and became more popular and more widely known as Anglo-Israelism. In both the U.S. and Canadian contexts, elements of Anglo-Israelism began to shift in a more racist direction. The key moment in the intellectual development of Christian Identity theology emerged as World War II came to a close. It centered around a major reinterpretation of the biblical creation story, one that shaped the landscape of white supremacy and racist violence in the decades that followed, thanks in large part to the work of the Reverend Wesley Albert Swift.
But a new biblical genealogy lay at the heart of Christian Identity teaching. For hundreds of years, scholars have speculated about the “lost” tribes of Israel, who according to the Old Testament were deported by the Assyrians in the eighth century BCE. According to the biblical narrative, following the prophet Abraham’s covenant with God, the descendants of the Hebrew patriarch became the genealogical foundation for the Jewish people. Specifically, God blessed Abraham’s grandson Jacob as the forefather of the nation of Israel. Ten of Jacob’s children and two of his grandchildren originated the bloodlines of the migrants who settled Palestine after Moses led the enslaved Hebrews out of Egypt during the Exodus. Ten tribes became the demographic foundation of the northern half of Israel, known as the Kingdom of Israel. (The southern half was known as the Kingdom of Judah.) But King Shalmaneser V of Assyria, following his conquest of the northern kingdom, exiled the ten tribes from the region. The Old Testament never discusses their ultimate destiny, as the rest of the narrative focuses on the tribes that remained in Judah, the descendants of Judah and Benjamin.
The fate of the ten lost tribes (sometimes referred to as the House of Israel) remained important to Jews and Christians alike because of its association with biblical prophecy. Many theologians interpret texts of the Bible to suggest that in the last days of the secular world, on the eve of the so-called Final Judgment, the House of Israel and the House of Judah will reunite in the Promised Land. Only then will God send a Messiah to save his chosen people. Many Christians believe this event will coincide with the second coming of Jesus.
In the 1500s various European scholars and adventurers claimed to have discovered the lost tribes: in North America as Native Americans; in Afghanistan as the Pashtuns; in Ethiopia as the Falashas. The foundational tenet of what is now called Christian Identity—that some or all of these tribes mixed with early Europeans, especially Anglo-Saxons—can be found as early as the 1790s. In his book A Revealed Knowledge of the Prophecies and the Times, Richard Brothers, a British naval officer, claimed to have received a divine revelation on this and related ideas. The book, and a very minor movement started by Brothers, lost traction after his death in 1824.
A more meticulous and far less mystical articulation of the same idea emerged in 1837, when Scottish linguist John Wilson published research speculating that the British people (he specifically referenced the bloodlines of the British monarchy) were connected to the lost tribe of Ephraim. Publishers reprinted Wilson’s book on the subject five times during his lifetime. By the time of his death, another Englishman, Edward Hine, had popularized a variation on the idea, arguing that white Europeans were the true chosen people of the Bible, that Jesus was an Aryan and not an ethnic Jew, and that European Jews were descendants of Mongolian-Turkish Khazars and had not originated in North Africa and the Middle East. In Victorian England, when the British Empire controlled more than one-quarter of the earth’s land mass and the British Navy dominated the world’s oceans, this kind of chauvinism gained wide currency. Hine’s book became a best seller, selling 250,000 copies. In the 1880s Hine took himself and his ideas to another emerging world power with Anglo-Saxon roots: the United States of America. Hine gained a modest following in the Northeast and Canada, where he toured and gave presentations on his theory, which became known as British Israelism.14
But the religious ideas exported by Wilson and Hine were less anti-Jewish than they were pro-Anglo-Saxon. An unfortunate by-product of timing meant that the religious movement began its geographic spread inside the United States—mostly westward toward California—during the early twentieth century, when America was becoming increasingly xenophobic and hospitable to racism. The nation’s second major wave of immigration, which brought millions of southern Italian Catholics and Eastern European Jews through places like Ellis Island, elicited a backlash against the new arrivals, which only intensified in the cauldron of ugly anti-ethnic feelings stirred up by World War I. Anti-Semitism and racism began to manifest themselves in both academic circles and popular culture as a whole.
At the turn of the twentieth century, a number of American community activists, biologists, and social scientists responded to the influx of European immigrants with alarm. Fearing that the newly arriving Americans could not assimilate into the wider culture, and worried that “inferior” races would contaminate America’s gene pool or populate American society with generation after generation of imbeciles or criminals, these men and women became the foundation for the modern eugenics movement. Historian Ed Black asserts that the eugenicists hoped that by “identifying so-called ‘defective’ family trees and subjecting them to lifelong segregation and sterilization programs they could literally wipe away the reproductive capability of those deemed weak and inferior—the so-called ‘unfit.’”15 Not surprisingly, eugenicists often counted Jews among the “unfit” given their sizable presence among the immigrant population.
In 1926 one of the leading eugenicists of his time, historian Lothrop Stoddard, described two races of Jews. He said that the “aristocratic” Sephardic Jews, who had entered the Mediterranean world, were the genuine Semites and that the Ashkenazic Jews (from Eastern Europe and Russia) were a mixture of diverse bloods, with features that reflected intermarriage with the Hittites. He said that these eastern Jews had migrated into southern Russia, where they had blended with the Khazars, whom Stoddard regarded as a combination of Turkish and Mongoloid peoples. Although Stoddard had no connection with British Israelism, the movement readily adopted the Khazar identity of the Jews as a further way to invalidate their claim to be descendants of the biblical Hebrews.16
According to religious scholar Michael Barkun, this secular strand of anti-Semitic genealogy developed from similar sources as British Israelism but evolved separately as an independent canon of pseudo-anthropological research. The scientific racism of people like Stoddard helped legitimize and reinforce racism against other minorities as well, blacks in particular.
In his highly influential work The Rising Tide of Color, Stoddard claimed that the black man’s “most outstanding quality is his animal vitality.” Blacks were “the quickest of the breeders,” but they lacked “constructive originality,” and had it not been for the intervention of other races, “the negro would have remained a savage.” But while their “ineptitude” helped keep their populations in check, outside interventions by more cultivated races since the 1800s meant that blacks were “assured to multiply prodigiously” in the next few decades. The danger to white civilization came not from their growing numbers but because blacks could be easily manipulated by other (nonwhite) races and because of the potential for “crossbreeding.” Stoddard asserted that “black blood, once entering human stock, seems never really bred out again.”17 These ideas would become a direct influence on the intellectual development of Christian Identity in the 1940s. By the 1960s, according to Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, “the Khazar ancestry of the Jews was a firm article of faith” for white supremacists.18
In the meantime, eugenicists’ ideas indirectly impacted the evolution of British Israelism in the United States by providing intellectual cover to deeply held prejudices with a long pedigree in certain segments of American society. By the 1920s these prejudices were becoming more and more widespread. During World War I, African Americans began to migrate to northern cities in large numbers to escape Jim Crow and to take readily available factory work. This migration stoked latent racial antagonism in the North. World War I also left a residue of xenophobia and jingoism directed at America’s immigrant population, including Jews. This combination of racism and nativism found its outlet in what historians refer to as the first Klan revival or the Second Klan, which began in 1915.
“The Klan looks forward to the day when the Negro problem will have been solved on some much saner basis than miscegenation, and when every State will enforce laws making any sex relations between a white and a colored person a crime,” said Hiram Evans, leader of the national Ku Klux Klan from 1922 through 1939. Echoing the work of Stoddard and others, he added:
The Jew is a more complex problem. His abilities are great, he contributes much to any country where he lives. This is particularly true of the Western Jew, those of the stocks we have known so long. Their separation from us is more religious than racial. When freed from persecution these Jews have shown a tendency to disintegrate and amalgamate. We may hope that shortly, in the free atmosphere of America, Jews of this class will cease to be a problem. Quite different are the Eastern Jews of recent immigration, the Jews known as the Askhenasim. It is interesting to note that anthropologists now tell us that these are not true Jews, but only Judaized Mongols-Chazars. These, unlike the true Hebrew, show a divergence from the American type so great that there seems little hope of their assimilation.19
That the evolution from British Israelism to Anglo-Israelism and the acculturation of Hine’s ideas into the North American context coincided with the first major Klan revival carried important implications for what became known as Christian Identity. Many trace the growing interest in the KKK to America’s first major motion picture blockbuster, D.W. Griffith’s film Birth of a Nation. The movie reinforced, in the nation’s popular imagination, a nostalgic and positive image of the post-Civil War South, lionizing the Ku Klux Klan as noble guardians of domestic order and the dignity of white women. The movie focused its bias against blacks, but anti-Semitism played a crucial role in the Klan’s reemergence as well. When, in 1915, the governor of Georgia commuted the death sentence of Leo Frank, a Jewish industrialist convicted for supposedly murdering Mary Phagan, one of his factory workers, a mob of twenty-five men forcibly removed Frank from prison and lynched him. This group, the Knights of Mary Phagan, became the foundation for the new Klan, which, under the leadership of former Confederate colonel William Simmons, held a symbolic cross-burning ceremony in 1915 that officially started the Klan revival in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
Thus began a surge in KKK activity that is almost unimaginable to modern sensibilities. At its peak, during the 1920s, the KKK enjoyed an estimated membership of up to 8 million, with franchises in most states, appealing to both urban and rural Americans concerned about the changing social and economic dynamics in the nation.
Becoming one of the largest fraternal organizations in the country, the Klan began to formalize its activities in ways reminiscent of groups like the Freemasons and the Knights of Pythias. It revamped the Reconstruction-era Klan hierarchy with a system of official ranks. The Imperial (or Grand) Wizard ran a multiregional Klan group, Grand Dragons ran state franchises, and Grand Giants ran county subgroups, or Klaverns. To these the Klan added the position of a Kleagle, or recruiter. It modeled its procedures and guidelines on established fraternal groups, making sure to use the letters Kl when appropriating such conventions. Its national rules and regulations could be found in a Klonstitution; its official meetings became Klonvocations; and each separate Klavern had its own Kloran, which set forth meeting procedures and rituals.
As they had during Reconstruction, many KKK members sought a veneer of biblical legitimacy to justify their ideas. Each Klavern had its own chaplain (called a Kludd), and each recruit was asked to confirm his religious bona fides as a (Protestant) Christian. But the KKK’s preferred passage of scripture, Romans 12, put the lie to its pretense of piety. Romans 12, the “foundation of the Invisible Empire” according to luminaries such as William Simmons, implores Jews and gentiles alike to “live peaceably with all men” in a spirit of “brotherly love,” to avoid revenge, and to feed one’s enemies.20 This is hardly a sincere foundation for a group associated with many of the 559 lynchings of African Americans that occurred from 1920 to 1929. The FBI rightfully called the KKK’s pretense of religion a “false front” and “bait.”21 A genuine religious movement would not have lost members by the millions, in a precipitous fashion, as a result of the Great Depression. And while it directed violence at blacks, the Second Klan noticeably did not attack Jewish targets in large numbers after 1915.
At its core, the Klan remained a reactionary, ethno-chauvinist terrorist group, bent on preserving white supremacy. Over time, it became significant to any discussion of domestic, religious terrorism because elite members of the Ku Klux Klan often became the most zealous, if often covert, proponents of Christian Identity. The Second Klan’s significance in the evolution of Anglo-Israelism is more representative than substantive: It shows how open 1920s and 1930s America was to anti-Semitism and racism. It was in that environment that two men popularized Anglo-Israelism and imbued it with concepts of anti-Semitism and racism that continue to resonate in Christian Identity theology. Howard Rand, a New England lawyer, coined the term Christian Identity. In Michael Barkun’s excellent study of the origins of Christian Identity, Religion and the Racist Right, he describes Rand as the “the critical bridging figure between mainstream British Israelism and its subsequent American variant, Christian Identity.” An “extraordinary organizer,” Rand “single-mindedly … created a national movement,” traveling, in one estimation, “eighteen thousand miles through the South; twelve thousand miles through the Middle West; and fifty thousand miles during eight months in the West” on behalf of his organization, the Anglo-Saxon Federation. Barkun also notes that while Rand “completed the consolidation” of Christian Identity in the United States, he also opened it to “right-wing and anti-Semitic influences that were to be amplified in postwar years.”22
Just as if not more important to the development of those influences was William J. Cameron, a member of the Anglo-Saxon Federation but more importantly a writer, editor, and publisher for automobile tycoon Henry Ford’s periodical the Dearborn Independent. Cameron used the pulpit of that paper, which boasted a circulation, at its peak, of seven hundred thousand, to promote virulently anti-Semitic messages. More than anything, Cameron focused his attention on an alleged international Jewish conspiracy to undermine the common good. Cameron promoted the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a hoax supposedly documenting just such a Jewish cabal, which has been read and believed by millions.23 Cameron assembled his collective anti-Semitic works into a four-volume set, known as The International Jew, and groups like the NSRP continued to market it to white supremacists decades after Cameron began propagandizing in the 1920s.
Although KKK membership dissipated in the economic crisis of the Great Depression, the idea that Jews were in some way responsible for that calamity gained a noteworthy following inside the United States, including among a circle of preachers taking advantage of the growing popularity and availability of radio. These men shifted in their stereotypes, at times playing on the age-old prejudices that Jews ran the world’s financial institutions and at other times conversely claiming that Jews were active supporters of communism. Among the most prominent was Catholic radio preacher Father Charles Edward Coughlin, who once said, “By their failure to use the press, the radio and the banking house, where they stand so prominently, to fight communism as vigorously as they fight Nazism, the Jews invite the charge of being supporters of communism.”24 Father Coughlin, it should be noted, reached an audience so large that in some weeks he received 1 million different pieces of fan mail. For all his anticommunism, Coughlin was an economic populist and supporter of Louisiana governor Huey P. Long’s Share Our Wealth program.25 It was there that he influenced a young aide to Long, Gerald L.K. Smith, an ordained minister since 1916 in the Disciples of Christ.26
Smith had already adapted many of the CI ideas espoused by the likes of Rand and Cameron. In 1942 he parlayed the organizational and communication talents he had honed working for Long into his own movement, the Christian Nationalist Crusade. The group’s stated purpose was to “preserve America as a Christian nation being conscious of a highly organized campaign to substitute Jewish tradition for Christian tradition.”27 Smith published a newsletter, The Cross and the Flag, which espoused these ideas to a national audience.
Smith’s newsletters and literature became influential among an Atlanta-based white supremacist group known as the Columbians. Though no direct evidence exists, the group appears to have become an incubator for Christian Identity leaders in the Southeast. The group itself did not assume or aspire to any religious or spiritual identity. Instead, as World War II came to a close, the Columbians presented themselves as a pro-Nazi group that could “ethnically cleanse” Atlanta of its Jewish and black citizens. By 1949 it had recruited an estimated two hundred members with a simple pitch: “Do you hate Jews? Do you hate Negroes? Do you have 3 dollars?” Privately, the group hoped to lead what one author called a fascist “putsch” to take control of not only Atlanta but also the state of Georgia and the entire United States, if possible. It stockpiled weapons and encouraged ethnic violence to that end. It also nurtured two people who became important members of the NSRP: Emory Burke and Dr. Edward Fields. Burke, in fact, had cofounded the Columbians, and by the time Atlanta law enforcement completed its crackdown of his group, Burke had become an active member of Smith’s Christian Nationalist Crusade.
The Columbians may have been influenced by Canadian fascist groups, which likely had connections to Anglo-Israelism factions in places like Quebec and Vancouver. The symbol the Columbians adopted, a thunderbolt, had for years belonged to the Union of Canadian Fascists, which in turn embraced the symbol in honor of the Nazi SS. It later became the symbol of the NSRP. Reports show that Canadian fascist material entered the United States in scores in the 1940s. Some of it became highly influential in helping students of Gerald Smith shape Christian Identity into a fully formed theological framework by 1949.
An Anglo-Israelism contingent emerged in Canada in the early 1900s and blossomed through the 1920s. But soon a schism divided the British-Israelite congregation in Vancouver, with some members shifting their ideology in the same racist, anti-Semitic direction as their American cousins. By the early 1940s, this Canadian offshoot, the British-Israelite Congregation of Greater Vancouver, appears to have anticipated several of the interpretative moves formalized by America’s Identity theologians. The Canadians produced written works that heavily influenced many American white supremacists. Published anonymously in 1944, a small work of nonfiction called When Gog Attacks became especially important to CI thinking. Historian Robert Singerman characterized the book as follows:
Drawing on Lothrop Stoddard, the writer dissolves away, much like the cube of sugar falling into a cup of tea, the Jews who are not Jews at all, beginning with the Ashkenazim who are the round-skulled (brachycephalic) descendants of a “mongrel breed of minor Asiatic races, with a strong admixture of Turko-Mongol blood … the Ashkenazim is [sic] therefore neither Jewish nor Semitic, and that therefore their claims to Palestine have no basis of fact whatsoever.”28
Whereas Stoddard imagined two races of Jews, the author of When Gog Attacks applied the label of Ashkenazim to all self-proclaimed Jews. Those properly understood to be Jews by mainstream society were all imposters or “counterfeit.” The Canadian racists extended this idea one step further in another influential 1944 work, When? A Prophetic Novel of the Very Near Future. Authored under the pseudonym H. Ben Judah, When? imagines an apocalyptic world through the experiences of a British intelligence agent who visits Palestine. There the agent discovers the secret behind history’s darkest conspiracy, one that goes back to Cain, the murderer of his brother Abel, in the book of Genesis. In the Bible’s telling, as punishment for the murder, God exiles Cain to the Land of Nod, fated to be “fugitive and a wanderer,” his bloodline terminated by the Great Flood. But in his thriller, Ben Judah provides a different twist. The big reveal, according to Barkun, is as follows:
Cain, it seems, founded a secret society to do the Devil’s work on earth, and had been so successful that everyone on earth with the exception of Noah and his family “appears to have come under the control of Satan.” Unfortunately Noah’s line was contaminated when Ham married a descendant of Cain’s and thus “the contaminated blood was brought through the Flood.” Cain’s conspiracy continued on through history, controlled by certain of the Ashkenazim Jews.”29
While there are only suggestions that the Canadian books found their way to the Columbians, there is no doubt that they became very important to a handful of Gerald Smith’s mentees on the West Coast in the 1940s. Smith nurtured a generation of ministers who reinterpreted the book of Genesis, with Cain as the pivotal figure. They included among their ranks San Jacinto Capt, Bertrand Comparet, and Conrad Gaard. But the most influential and important apprentice to Smith was the Reverend Wesley Albert Swift.
Owing as much to his charisma as his biblical exegesis, Swift popularized a form of Christian Identity known as the two-seedline theory, rooted in a twist on the biblical creation story. Swift and others argued that Eve engaged in two conjugal relationships: one with Adam, creating the seedline for white Europeans, and a second with the serpent (representing Satan), creating the seedline for Jews. In arguing that Jews were literally Satan’s spawn, Swift provided ideological justification for many acts of religious terrorism. This twisted theology continues to be believed and used as justification for violence to this day.
The son of a Methodist minister, Wesley Swift became an evangelical minister at age seventeen. He moved from New Jersey to Los Angeles to continue his studies at Kingdom Bible College. By the mid-1940s, he had established his own church in the nearby city of Lancaster. In California Swift became friendly with other sycophants of Gerald Smith, including San Jacinto Capt and Bertrand Comparet.
That southern California became the epicenter for Christian Identity thinking may not have been an accident. Readers of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath are well aware of the migration of Great Plains farmers to counties like San Bernardino and Orange. Among other things, the region’s clime and soil allowed for the farming of cotton, a familiar crop to the disposed farmers. But those same farmers often came from states and regions with a history of Jim Crow segregation. Tom Joad, in other words, could well have been a racist. Connie Lynch, son of a cotton farmer from Texas, certainly was when he migrated to the Golden State in 1936.
Again, prior to the 1940s, Anglo-Israelism rooted its belief system in speculation on the genealogy of the lost tribes of Israel. For the most part, the religion followed the traditional interpretations of Christianity, at least in its fundamentalist, evangelical context. This belief system included a conventional interpretation of the book of Genesis and the human origin story. As has been told for centuries, the basic story has God creating the earth in seven days, forming Adam from dust on the sixth day, forming Eve from Adam’s rib, and placing both in the Garden of Eden. Warned by God to avoid eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, Eve succumbs to the temptations of the serpent, a manifestation of the devil, and both Adam and Eve are expelled from paradise. The children of Adam and Eve are Cain and Abel; the former kills the latter and then Eve gives birth to another son, Seth. Seth and Cain become the biblical basis for mankind’s bloodlines. Generations hence, Abraham reaches a covenant with God; Abraham’s descendants, the Hebrews, or tribes of Israel, are blessed by God. In the Christian tradition, centuries later the Jews are blessed with a savior, Jesus, who changes the covenant and extends God’s grace to Jews and gentiles alike.
But Swift and others offered key revisionist interpretations to the original story of the Garden of Eden, with cascading effects for Christian Identity theology. In Swift’s retelling, Eve engaged in an illicit sexual relation with the serpent. Cain is not the offspring of Adam and Eve; per Swift, he is the child of Eve and Satan. Cain’s bloodline yields demonic offspring—and in Swift’s genealogy, those descendants are the humanoids who in the modern world call themselves Jews. These Jews—referred to by Swift as Ashkenazic Jews—are imposters, engaged in a centuries-long cosmic conspiracy against the true chosen people, the descendants of Seth, white Europeans. The imposter Jews manipulate other races, who Swift insisted were not fully human either but instead were descendants of the “beasts of the field,” animals that, per Genesis, roamed the world before and concurrently with Adam and Eve.
The introduction of another seedline, from Satan through Cain, closed the biblical circle for dedicated racists of a religious bent like Swift and his friends. They had already embraced the genealogical ideas proposed by men like Hine in the 1880s: The Hebrew patriarch Abraham still reaches a covenant with God; his grandchild Jacob still becomes the father of Israel; Jacob’s son Joseph still becomes viceroy in Egypt; the prophet Moses still leads the Israelites out of Egypt and into Palestine. None of these events refers to the history of the people currently identified as Jews, however, for theologians like Swift. Rather, the descendants of Jacob, the twelve tribes (representing Jacob’s children and grandchildren), are from a different bloodline. When ten of those tribes, occupying northern Israel, are deported by the Assyrians, they migrate to the European continent over a span of centuries. Two tribes in particular, descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh, migrate to and populate the United Kingdom. As descendants of Jacob’s son Joseph, these two tribes are, according to biblical tradition, especially blessed by God to form the House of Israel.
It is here that the introduction of Cain as an agent of Satan and as a progenitor of the Jews becomes so important. A conventional interpretation of the Gospels of Jesus (and the letters of Paul) suggests the potential for all the world to embrace Jesus’s message and in so doing find salvation. Presumably this could include Ashkenazic Jews, if they accepted Jesus as the Messiah. But if Ashkenazic Jews were not even human, if they were the spawn of Satan, then such grace could never be given. Taken out of context, passages in the New Testament where Jesus refers to Jews as “the Synagogue of Satan” or as a “brood of vipers” give support to this interpretation and become key parts of the Christian Identity message under Swift. The Pharisees and the Sanhedrin who Jesus confronts are not just the chosen people gone astray. They are servants of Lucifer.
According to Swift, Jesus is the savior for all true chosen people, including the lost tribes, but he condemned “false Jews” as serpents and devils. Over time, the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh migrate to England and America, respectively; America becomes the new Holy Land.
From the end of World War II on through the 1950s, through the work of Swift, but also Gale, and many other Identity preachers, two-seedline theorists developed their own creed, with a set of biblical references that are important in distinguishing between religious zealots and conventional racists. One of the leading Identity churches today, Kingdom Identity ministries, offers the following doctrinal statement:
WE BELIEVE the White, Anglo-Saxon, Germanic and kindred people to be God’s true, literal Children of Israel. Only this race fulfills every detail of Biblical Prophecy and World History concerning Israel and continues in these latter days to be heirs and possessors of the Covenants, Prophecies, Promises and Blessings YHVH God made to Israel. This chosen seedline making up the “Christian Nations” (Gen. 35:11; Isa. 62:2; Acts 11:26) of the earth stands far superior to all other peoples in their call as God’s servant race (Isa. 41:8, 44:21; Luke 1:54). Only these descendants of the 12 tribes of Israel scattered abroad (James 1:1; Deut. 4:27; Jer. 31:10; John 11:52) have carried God’s Word, the Bible, throughout the world (Gen. 28:14; Isa. 43:10-12, 59:21), have used His Laws in the establishment of their civil governments and are the “Christians” opposed by the Satanic Anti-Christ forces of this world who do not recognize the true and living God (John 5:23, 8:19, 16:2-3).
WE BELIEVE in an existing being known as the Devil or Satan and called the Serpent (Gen. 3:1; Rev. 12:9), who has a literal “seed” or posterity in the earth (Gen. 3:15) commonly called Jews today (Rev. 2:9; 3:9; Isa. 65:15). These children of Satan (John 8:44-47; Matt. 13:38; John 8:23) through Cain (I John 2:22, 4:3) who have throughout history always been a curse to true Israel, the Children of God, because of a natural enmity between the two races (Gen. 3:15), because they do the works of their father the Devil (John 8:38-44), and because they please not God, and are contrary to all men (I Thes. 2:14-15), though they often pose as ministers of righteousness (II Cor. 11:13-15).
Swift and his friends like Comparet and Capt were not the first people to interpret the Bible in a racist or anti-Semitic direction, but they did so in a radical way. Most racist interpretations of Genesis—the passages of the Bible used by some to justify slavery in the antebellum South and segregation in the decades that followed—rely on Chapters 9 through 11, which narrate the fate of mankind after the Great Flood. Segregationists specifically rely on what author Stephen Haynes calls Noah’s curse or the curse of Ham and on the story of the Tower of Babel. According to this racist interpretation, Ham, the son of Noah, witnesses and gossips about his father’s nakedness. Scholars have debated what this means, but for our purposes, the punishment is what mattered. Ham is cursed by Noah. In some treatments this curse includes black skin and applies to Ham’s descendants, the dreaded Canaanites. Later, by Genesis 11, Ham’s grandson Nimrod is king of an area that includes the town of Babel, where men in their arrogance build a mighty tower to make a name for themselves. God then “confused their language” and “scattered them abroad from there all over the face of the Earth.” While Nimrod is never directly mentioned as the ringleader of the tower project, commentators have traditionally associated him with it. Thus one can see, in a cohesive interpretation of Genesis 9 through 11, a similar theme: the God-ordained differentiation and separation of the races. Not surprisingly, this interpretation served as justification for segregation and for the notion of the racial inferiority (per Ham’s curse) of blacks.30
These chapters do not leave much room for anti-Semitism, especially since the story of Abraham and Moses come later in the Bible. Anti-Semitism, historically, has relied instead on an interpretation of the books of the New Testament that show some Jews rejecting Jesus as the Messiah and supposedly arranging for Jesus’s Crucifixion. For centuries, Jews were mistreated on the basis of these interpretations, but their basic humanity, their original role as the chosen people, and their potential for salvation have rarely been questioned. The closest one comes to the type of exegesis one finds in Christian Identity theology would be Martin Luther’s The Jews and Their Lies, published in 1543. But even Luther reserved the term devils for Jews who rejected Christ, not for all Jews; he did not assert that Jews were literally the offspring of Satan.
A look at three different and highly influential ministers from the 1960s provides an interesting contrast to Swift. The Reverend Billy Graham, who was a friend of Martin Luther King Jr.’s, rarely cited any of the Christian Identity’s favored biblical passages in his major sermons. The Reverend Bob Jones, whose religious university embraced segregation well into the 1990s, referenced the Tower of Babel in a sermon warning against segregation; he did not mention the curse of Ham, and he was welcoming toward Jews. Segregationist minister Ferrell Griswold quoted from Genesis 9 through 11, but even though Griswold spoke to large gatherings of KKK members throughout Alabama, he did not couch his anti-Semitism in the two-seed theory of Genesis. What anti-Semitism appeared in Griswold’s sermons was similar to the charges voiced by Father Coughlin, who associated Jews with international communism.
Swift’s sermons and writings completely reoriented the narrative and the justifications of racial and religious hatred. According to Swift, Jews and nonwhite races were not even in Noah’s bloodline, much less Ham’s. They were either satanic, in the case of Jews, or subhuman, in the case of nonwhite minorities.
This shift has both substantive and evidentiary value as we proceed through the study of America’s hidden history of religious terrorism. Substantively, the dehumanization of Jews and other minorities serves the same function as dehumanization in many acts of human-on-human violence: justifying and rationalizing horrible treatment of “the Other.” In 1968, for instance, Sam Bowers, Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi, referenced this very kind of religious rationale when publicly criticizing (in a letter) a Mississippi law enforcement officer who had killed one of his operatives. In an event that will be described later in more depth, two of Bowers’s operatives targeted a local rabbi in his home but never met their objective, as they were trapped in a law enforcement sting operation. In his letter after the sting, Bowers praised the dead operative and harangued the law enforcement officer. His reasoning? The operative was a good Christian. Though the rabbi’s life may have been spared by the officer, the rabbi was the spawn of Satan.31 Likewise, when Connie Lynch spoke at a St. Augustine, Florida, counter-rally in 1963, in reference to the recent bombing murders of four young black girls in Birmingham, Alabama, he commented, “The victims weren’t children. Children are little people. Little human beings, and that means white people… . They’re just little niggers, and if there’s four less niggers tonight, then I say, ‘Good for whoever planted the bomb!’”32 Such hideous public rhetoric was almost unknown even to the most hardened bigots, but Lynch was simply echoing the thinking of a minister convinced of the two-seed theory.
From an evidentiary point of view, the unique nature of Swift’s biblical analysis becomes an important tool in identifying actual acts of religious terrorism. In public, for reasons that will become clear, Identity adherents rarely spoke openly about their unique religious vision. But one can find reference to a handful of biblical verses favored by the CI movement in the literature (such as pamphlets) surrounding attacks and in references to the core concepts, however coded, in CI members’ speeches.
The very fact that these biblical justifications were available to a small but influential group of the nation’s most active white supremacists is also a testament to Wesley Swift. He not only shaped the theology of radical Christian Identity, he also became its chief evangelist. Swift, like Father Coughlin, became a major radio presence, delivering intense weekly sermons to over 1 million listeners.33 Smith’s reach and influence benefited from one innovation that Coughlin did not have access to: tape recordings. Christian Identity followers became their own distribution nodes for Swift’s sermons, copying and playing the tapes for fellow travelers. As early as 1965, a mailing list of recipients of Swift’s taped sermons included dozens of people in nearly every U.S. state, Canada, Europe, and parts of Asia.34
The appeal of these tapes to right-wing zealots cannot be overstated. More than one person claimed to have been personally indoctrinated into the Christian Identity faith from listening to Swift’s taped sermons. Starting in the late 1960s, distributors in Jackson, Mississippi, held popular listening parties, where they played Swift’s tapes. One Mississippi man, Burris Dunn, appears to have been brainwashed by Swift’s message. Described by his ex-wife as a mild-mannered if dedicated segregationist, Dunn began listening to Swift’s tapes, becoming more and more radicalized with each recording. Soon Dunn began forcing his wife and children to listen to the tapes, at the threat of violence. The wife was forced to flee with her children. For his part, Dunn became one of the key aides for Sam Bowers, whom he idolized.35
Just as importantly, Swift, a former rifle instructor for the California KKK, began to use his Church of Jesus Christ-Christian as a front for paramilitary activities connected to the Identity message. Together with his then-ally Colonel William Potter Gale, who had counterinsurgency expertise from his days in the military, Swift created the Christian Defense League (CDL) in the early 1960s. The group was a multilayered organization, aimed in part at hiding military-style hit squads behind seemingly benign fronts. Researcher David Boylan describes four such fronts:
The “First Front” was the Church of Jesus Christ, Christian. Faithful members of the CJCC were recruited for the “Second Front” [known as] the AWAKE movement. The more militant members were then recruited in to the “Third Front” which was the Christian Knights of the Invisible Empire (CKIE) “which will have the outward impression of a political-religious group not interested in violence.” It was from this group that the most militant members were recruited for the “Inner Den.” These recruits were the ones that committed acts of violence. Gale stated that “leaders in our country might have to be eliminated to further the goals of the CKIE” and that “God will take care of those who must be eliminated.”36
Gale and Swift experienced a rift in December 1963, but the CJCC and the CKIE persisted, and both men continued as influential members of the Christian Identity movement. But for all Swift’s influence and publicity, few Americans, either during his lifetime or in the twenty-first century, understood the impact he had on racial violence in the United States.
Perhaps not surprisingly, one of the first (and only) people to catch on to the danger posed by groups like the NSRP and the CDL, and to recognize the web of connections between members of several right-wing organizations, was the attorney general of California, Thomas Lynch. In 1965 he wrote a report that singled out the NSRP as “more potentially dangerous than any of the American Nazi groups.” The report also covered the CDL, the California Rangers, and the Minutemen. Lynch even pointed out the connections between leaders of these groups and the CJCC.37 But the report failed to take the next step: to argue that religion was one of the driving forces behind these groups’ terrorist actions.
There are at least two explanations for this oversight. First, as noted in the previous chapter, the context for anti-Semitic violence was shaped by the world community’s experience during World War II. Americans were not even a generation removed from the Holocaust, and Hitler’s Final Solution was motivated primarily by scientific racism, not religious theology. The language of the report, referring to these diverse right-wing organizations as “American Nazi groups,” suggests that that mind-set still dominated the thinking on anti-Semitism.
But if the California attorney general was keen to the religious devotion of people like Stoner and Gale, why didn’t he see these groups as an exception to that rule? The obvious answer is that from 1959 through 1966, there were few attacks by these men or their organizations against Jewish targets such as synagogues (or rabbis). Many people assume that the attacks on Jewish targets in the 1950s were part and parcel of the wider resistance to integration that came later. If this was Lynch’s theory, the attacks on Jewish targets after racists lost their struggle against integration in the South raises serious questions about that rationale. But the California attorney general was writing before Sam Bowers targeted Jewish institutions in Mississippi from 1967 to 1968. Attorney General Lynch, and others, could reasonably ask: If religion was such a motivating force, and the men and groups in question hated Jews as much as if not more than blacks, why did the attacks on Jewish targets stop from 1960 to 1965, when white supremacist groups were at their most powerful?
The answer lies in what at first seems to be a counterintuitive observation: Because of their power and influence from 1960 to 1965, devotees of Christian Identity could not directly attack Jewish targets during the peak of the civil rights movement. While it may be accurate to refer to devotees such as Stoner as religious terrorists, it would not be accurate to refer to the rank-and-file members as religious terrorists. For all its theological gymnastics, Christian Identity theology, and two-seed theory in particular, is an outlier in the Christian world, and CI remains a very minor sect to this day. The typical KKK member, the typical subscriber to The Thunderbolt (the NSRP’s periodical), if he was religious at all, had attended a Sunday school that had taught the conventional narrative of Adam and Eve. He had also grown up in an environment with few Jews—and Jews who “kept their heads down.” To the average dues-paying Klansman, Jews did not pose a threat to the “southern way of life”—African American civil rights activists did.
Wallace Allen, one of the men tried (and acquitted) for bombing the Temple in Atlanta in 1958, wrote a letter to Emory Burke that same year, describing his frustration with the “no-goods” in right-wing organizations who “want to stop integration without fighting the Jews.” Allen wanted a new set of leaders who would drive these “lukewarm” people out of the white supremacist cause. He longed for a “band of hard core, idealistic, fanatical leaders (who will tackle all, not part of the problem) to organize into a group of their own and set out, like the disciples to win over everyone in this fight to the death with the Jews. Anything less will never succeed.” There is little doubt that Allen, like his colleague J.B. Stoner, embraced something like Christian Identity, as he closes the letter by calling for “a careful thought out mass movement as scientific as it is fanatical, idealistic, devoted, and determined to destroy the Asiatic Jewish Khazars, who are not only responsible for integration, but whose evil fangs are at the jugular vein of civilization itself—this I’ll die for anytime.”38
But Allen never got his wish. Even as the civil rights movement made gains in the early 1960s and white opposition became more intense, Christian Identity adherents could not sway the neo-Confederate southern nationalists to attack Jews.
Few mainstream KKK groups routinely interacted with the NSRP because of its extremism, especially on the Jewish question. Attempts were made, for instance by Sam Bowers in Mississippi, to convince the general membership of some KKK groups to shift their focus to Jewish violence—but that did not work, not even in 1964 when northern Jewish students flocked to Mississippi by the thousands to help blacks in the Delta register to vote.
Though speculative, it seems likely that the religiously motivated extremists were left with a choice between two options. They could align their goals to those of the wider segregationist movement and thus maximize their influence and financial backing, or they could commit to ideological purity and target Jews at all costs. Favoring the latter would mean sacrificing the former. Attacking Jewish targets would alienate many would-be foot soldiers who would otherwise be happy to burn down a black church or beat down civil rights protestors. Connie Lynch could inflame a crowd with a rant on race mixing, but similar rhetoric against Jews would probably baffle the same audiences.
As will become clear in the next several chapters, from 1959 to 1968, Christian Identity zealots like Bowers and Stoner chose the first option. They chose to hide their religious agenda from their rank-and-file followers. They engaged in Machiavellian manipulation, but they were not resigned to a life of “lukewarm” violence that ignored the core problem, as they saw it: the satanic Jewish conspiracy. America’s early Christian Identity terrorists were playing the long game. To understand how men like Stoner and Bowers exploited vigilante racism and blue-collar KKK members, one must appreciate what that long game was. Once again, the answer lies in a radical reinterpretation of biblical texts. Only this time, the material in question is not about the beginning of time but the end of times.