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The Aryan Nations is a anti-government, anti-semitic white supremacist group. It was founded in the 1970s by Richard Girnt Butler[?] as an arm of the Christian Identity group Church of Jesus Christ-Christian[?]. The group had a network of prison gang members called the Aryan Brotherhood.

Its origin lies in the teachings of Wesley Swift[?], the most significant figure in the early years of the Christian Identity movement in the United States. Swift popularized it in the right-wing by “combining British-Israelism[?], a demonic anti-Semitism, and political extremism[?].” He founded his own church in California in the mid 1940s where he could preach this ideology. In addition, he had a daily radio broadcast in California during the 1950s and 60s, through which he was able to proclaim his ideology to a large audience. With Swift’s efforts, the message of his church spread, leading to the creation of similar churches throughout the country. In 1957, the name of his church was changed to The Church of Jesus Christ Christian[?], which is used today by Aryan Nations churches.

The AN is a large group that adheres to the Christian Identity belief system. The group espouses hatred toward Jews, the federal government[?], blacks and other minorities. The ultimate goal of the AN is to forcibly take five northwestern states -- Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington and Montana -- from the United States government in order to establish an Aryan homeland. It consists of a headquarters in Hayden Lake, Idaho, and a number of state chapters, which often act as their own entities. While the leader may not support or encourage acts of violence, it is easy for small cells of members or splinter groups to take part in violent acts without the knowledge of the leader. The individuals are associated with the group as a whole and carry the name of the group, but may perpetrate acts on their own.

The AN has been headquartered at Hayden Lake since the late 1970s and remains a focal point for the group’s activities. Its annual World Congress[?] attracts a number of different factions from the right-wing, including members and leaders of various right-wing groups. The World Congress is often viewed as a sort of round table to discuss right-wing issues. These meetings have led to an increased level of contact between AN members and members and leaders of other groups. This degree of networking within the right-wing may further the AN’s base of support and help advance its cause.

Opponents assert that these meetings are simply staging areas for the formation of groups that work together to commit criminal acts, something that has happened in the past. Bob Mathews[?] formed a subgroup of the AN, called The Order, which committed a number of violent crimes, including murder. Their mission was to bring about a race war and there are several groups that currently exist which hold these same beliefs. Dennis McGiffen[?], who also had ties to the AN, formed a cell called The New Order[?], based on Mathews' group. The members were arrested before they could follow through on their plans to try to start a race war. Chevie Kehoe[?], who was convicted of three homicides, conspiracy and interstate transportation of stolen property also spent some time at the AN compound. Most recently, Buford O. Furrow, Jr., the man accused of the August 10, 1999, shooting at the Jewish Community Center[?] in Los Angeles, California, also spent some time at the AN compound working as a security guard.

A relatively new tenet gaining popularity among Christian Identity believers justifies the use of violence if it is perpetrated in order to punish violators of God’s law, as found in the Bible and interpreted by Christian Identity ministers and adherents. This includes killing interracial couples[?], abortionists, prostitutes and homosexuals, burning pornography stores, and robbing banks and perpetrating frauds to undermine the “usury system.” Christian Identity adherents engaging in such behavior are referred to as Phineas Priests or members of the Phineas Priesthood[?]. This is a very appealing concept to Christian Identity’s extremist members who believe they are being persecuted by what they perceive as the Jewish-controlled U.S. government and society. Some are eagerly preparing for Armageddon. Adherents today often view the Phineas Priesthood as a call to action or a badge of honor.

In July, 2000, Butler was over eighty and had been in poor health for some time, so at the "World Congress of Aryan Nations", Neuman Britton[?] was appointed as the group's new leader. In August 2001, he died of cancer, and was succeeded by Harold Ray Redfaeirn[?] from Ohio, who had been agitating for control since the mid-1990s.

After losing a $6.3 million lawsuit in September 2000, brought by Victoria and Jason Keenan[?] who were attacked by Aryan Nations guards in 1999, the group was bankrupted. In February, 2001, the group's 20-acre compound in Idaho and intellectual property including the names Aryan Nations and Church of Jesus Christ Christian were sold to the Keenans.

The group splintered into more regional elements following the loss of its headquarters but with a strong presence in Potters County, Pennsylvania[?], under the leadership of August Kreis[?]. Butler was removed from the group in January 2002 and Redfaeirn resigned in March, leadership passed to a 'High Council,' of Kreis along with Charles Juba[?] and one other.

See also: Christian Identity, Racism, Anti-Semitism, Nazi

External links

Aryan Nations website (http://www.aryan-nations.org/)

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