A white supremacist church rooted in Christian Identity beliefs, founded by a Ku Klux Klan organizer.
The Church of Jesus Christ–Christian, established in 1946 by Wesley A. Swift, aligns itself with the Christian Identity movement and is known for its white supremacist views. Swift, the son of a Methodist Episcopal Church, South minister, played a pivotal role in the early Christian Identity movement within the United States. His teachings and copyrights are continued by Kingdom Identity Ministries.
Initially named the White Identity Church of Jesus Christ–Christian, the organization adopted its current name in 1957 to reflect a belief that Jesus was not a Jew. Following Swift’s death in 1970, the church’s leadership was passed on to his wife, Lorraine Swift, and later to Roy Gillaspie and Arnold Murray between the 1950s and 1970s.
In a significant legal turn in 2001, the Church of Jesus Christ–Christian and its associated entity, Aryan Nations, lost their names and a compound in a lawsuit to Victoria and Jason Keenan, who were awarded $6.3 million after being attacked by the group’s security personnel. The compound was later acquired by the Carr Foundation, intending to establish a human rights center there.
After the death of Richard Butler, who had taken up leadership following Swift, the church reemerged under the guidance of Senior Pastor Paul R. Mullet and a council of three men in 2009.
Relationship with Aryan Nations
The Church of Jesus Christ–Christian has a closely tied history with Aryan Nations, particularly under the leadership of Richard Butler. Aryan Nations, once a prominent white supremacist group, faced leadership and legal challenges leading to its decline. The group’s activities, including its annual World Congress of Aryan Nations, were central to its efforts to unite members of similar supremacist groups. The legal battles and subsequent financial bankruptcy fragmented the organization, leading to the division and reformation under various leaders.
The Aryan Nations’ compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho, served as a central hub for the group until it was lost due to the lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of the Keenans. This event marked a significant blow to the group’s operational capacity and public image, leading to the eventual dispersal of its members into various factions.