Phineas Priesthood

A radical and violent ideology based on a belief in racial purity and individual acts of anti-government and anti-multicultural violence.

Religion: Christianity
Denomination: Christian Identity
Founded: 1980s
Location: United States (primarily)
Other Names: Phineas Priests, Phineas Militia

The Phineas Priesthood, also known as Phineas Priests, represents a unique facet of American domestic terrorism, characterized not by its organizational structure but by its ideological underpinnings. This group derives its name and inspiration from the Old Testament story of Phineas, a figure who was rewarded by God for killing an interfaith couple, symbolizing an extreme stance against racial intermixing and perceived moral decay. The Phineas Priesthood is not an organization in the conventional sense; it has no leaders, meetings, or membership rosters. Instead, it functions as a concept or identity adopted by individuals who commit acts of violence based on a set of beliefs rooted in white supremacy and certain interpretations of Christian doctrine.

The ideological blueprint for what constitutes a Phineas Priest is detailed in the 1990 book “Vigilantes of Christendom: The Story of the Phineas Priesthood” by Richard Kelly Hoskins. This work posits the Phineas Priest as someone called upon by God to combat racial mixing and defend divine laws through violent means if necessary. This perspective is intertwined with the principles of Christian Identity, a theology that holds deeply racist and antisemitic views, including the belief that white Europeans are the true descendants of the biblical Israelites.

Throughout the 1990s and beyond, individuals and small groups who identified with the Phineas Priesthood ideology carried out a series of violent crimes, including bank robberies, bombings, and shootings, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. These acts were aimed at targets these individuals or groups deemed to be threats to their racial or religious purity, such as interracial couples, Jews, homosexuals, and abortion providers. Notable incidents attributed to individuals claiming the mantle of the Phineas Priesthood include attacks on abortion clinics, a newspaper office, and plans to bomb FBI buildings. One of the most infamous acts associated with this ideology was carried out by Buford Furrow in 1999, who attacked a Jewish Community Center in California, wounding five people.

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