Aryan Nations

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Aryan Nations is a far-right white supremacist religious organization based in the United States. Richard Girnt Butler founded the group in the 1970s, as an arm of the Christian Identity organization Church of Jesus Christ–Christian. As of December 2007, there were two main factions that claimed descent from Butler's group. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has called Aryan Nations a "terrorist threat",[1] and the RAND Corporation has called it the "first truly nationwide terrorist network" in the US.[2]

Contents

History

The origin of Aryan Nations is in the teachings of Wesley Swift, a significant figure in the early Christian Identity movement. Swift combined British Israelism, extreme antisemitism and political militancy. He founded his own church in California in the mid-1940s, and he had a daily radio broadcast in California during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1957, the name of his church was changed to the Church of Jesus Christ-Christian, which is used today by Aryan Nations churches.[3]

From the 1970s until 2001, the Aryan Nations headquarters was in a 20-acre (81,000 m²) compound 1.8 miles north of Hayden Lake, Idaho.[3] There were a number of state chapters, only loosely tied to the main organization. The group ran an annual World Congress of Aryan Nations at Hayden Lake for Aryan Nations members and members of similar groups.[3]

Until 1998, the leadership of Aryan Nations remained firmly in the hands of Richard Girnt Butler. By that time he was over 80 years old and had been in poor health for some time. At the annual Aryan Nations World Congress, Neuman Britton was appointed as the group's new leader. In August 2001, however, Butler appointed Harold Ray Redfeairn from Ohio, who had been agitating for control since the mid-1990s. Previously, Redfeairn brought in Dave Hall, a Federal Bureau of Investigation informant who exposed the group's illegal activities.[4] Afterwards, Redfeairn was distrusted by some in the group. Redfeairn and August Kreis III, propaganda minister of Aryan Nations, formed a splinter group, and as a result were expelled from the organization by Butler. A few months later, Redfeairn returned to form an alliance with Butler.[3] Butler's World Congress in 2002 drew fewer than 100 people, and when he ran for mayor, he lost, garnering only 50 votes against over 2,100 votes.[5] Redfeairn died in October 2003,[6][7] and Butler died of heart failure in September 2004.[3] At the time of Butler's death, Aryan Nations had 200 members.

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