White nationalists and religion

Atheists are well aware that the religious texts are full of awful things that if anyone reads and takes seriously will discredit religion. But it seems that some white nationalists are interpreting the Bible in far more extreme terms than any secularist could possibly imagine, according to a new book Blood & Faith: Christianity in American White Nationalism by Damon T. Berry.

The majority of white nationalists have, in some sense, engaged in an ideology called “Christian identity” — a racist interpretation of Christianity. It is the idea that race is more than biological or cultural, but also has a spiritual significance. But as some sociologists have recognized, the dominance of Christian identity has diminished.

What religion white nationalists engage with depends on what groups you are talking about. The Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Nations are very firmly founded in Christianity. They use the Bible to teach that the Jews derive from Cain, himself the product of a sexual liaison between Eve and the Serpent in Eden, and so are biologically evil, and that the beasts of the field were nonwhites created to do manual labor. And they use various stories from the Bible, like the Tower of Babel, as scriptural evidence that God wants racial segregation. There are also white nationalist Mormons and there are Odinists who revive and revise the old Norse religion to uphold the idea of the superiority of whites. [My emphasis-MS]

I thought I knew the Bible fairly well but I am at a loss as to where in it they could get the idea that Eve and the serpent had sex and gave rise to Cain and that he is the father of Jews. That, and the idea that beasts of the field represent nonwhites, makes no sense at all.

That white nationalists use religion as a source of support is not a surprise. But before we atheists get too smug about this, Berry says that there are atheists among the white nationalists too.

There are some white nationalist groups that specifically speak out against religion, especially Christianity, as being harmful to the white race. Each of these groups articulates that position differently. Revilo Oliver, one of the formative ideologues of modern white nationalism, was deeply atheist in his views, as is Tom Metzger of White Aryan Resistance. William Pierce, the founder of the National Alliance (a white nationalist group), felt Christianity was an alien ideology and he wanted to promote “cosmotheism” — the idea that the races are “evolving” and the white race will eventually become like gods.

Ben Klassen, founder of the Church of the Creator, was doing the same. He determined his ideology — called “Creativity,” a pantheistic religion with the white race at the center — should be the white man’s religion. And Richard Spencer (president of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank) is anti-religious.

Berry goes on to say that white nationalists are consciously downplaying religion, at least in public, in order to emphasize their political message and goals and increase their membership.

What I am seeing is an explicit turn to the political. I would say the groups who have a religious vision and the ones who are anti-religion are trying very hard not to bring up anything that would be too divisive, and one of those things would be Christianity. In Charlottesville, the KKK and the Odinists were there, but nobody chanted “Jesus is our white savior” or “all religions will lead to race suicide” — which are things they say to each other all the time. But now they are saying their race is their religion and anything else — including Christianity — is negotiable.

Donald Trump has unleashed the white nationalists by giving them license to come out in ways that we have not seen for a long time. These new racists are not dressed in white sheets and hoods and burning crosses. They are showing their faces and carrying torches in public marches and rallying around seemingly race-neutral issues, such as ‘preserving history’ and ‘protecting free speech’.


  1. jrkrideau says

    Jews derive from Cain, himself the product of a sexual liaison between Eve and the Serpent in Eden

    I, definitely, missed this part. We were Catholics so we used the Douay–Rheims translation. Obviously we should have been checking out the King James version for the real story.

    thought I knew the Bible fairly well but I am at a loss…

    When a person is twisted enough to be a white supremacist, a KKK member or a new-version Nazi, they can believe all sorts of total balderdash and like the White Queen believe “six impossible things before breakfast” .

    They are unlikely to have any real need for consistency. In this they are like many other conspiracy believers.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    … Jews derive from Cain, himself the product of a sexual liaison between Eve and the Serpent in Eden…

    So Adam, father of all whites, was the first cuck? Take pride in your heritage, Honko-Americans!!1!

  3. David Brindley says

    the idea that beasts of the field represent nonwhites, makes sense when you look at the history of slavery and the desire of white supremacists to return to those times.

  4. Mano Singham says

    David @#3,

    What surprises me is not that they think nonwhites are inferior but where in the Bible they find the connections between nonwhites and beasts of the field.

  5. tbrandt says

    I was also surprised at the serpent parentage of Cain, so I checked the King James Bible (Genesis 4:1):

    And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.

    I have no idea how one possibly twists that into a tryst between Eve and the snake. It seems awfully clear to me. According to Wikipedia, though, the idea known as serpent seed dates back to the (non-canonical) Gnostic gospel of Phillip:

    He who has been created is beautiful, but you would not find his sons noble creations. If he were not created, but begotten, you would find that his seed was noble. But now he was created (and) he begot. What nobility is this? First, adultery came into being, afterward murder. And he [Cain] was begotten in adultery, for he was the child of the Serpent. So he [Cain] became a murderer, just like his father [Satan], and he killed his brother [Abel]. Indeed, every act of sexual intercourse which has occurred between those unlike one another is adultery [bestiality = adultery?!].

    Fascinating--where on Earth did that come from? I have read a little bit about the Gnostics, but obviously not enough. I wonder if we have any Gnostic scholars hanging around here.

  6. Mark Dowd says

    Mano @ #4
    You don’t understand only because you approach this the way a rational person would. You would look at a text and say “what new things can I learn from this?”.

    In order to understand this, you need to approach this from the mentality of a wingnut. I understand that this might frighten you, since the minds of the truly deranged wingnuts seem like an Eldritch horror drawn by M.C. Escher, but there’s a couple things you can do to approach this state. Start by turning your cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias all the way up, and crank your self-awareness to 0.

    The deranged wingnut does not seek new knowledge. The deranged wingnut already knows everything important that they need to know. The deranged wingnut does not look at a text and think “what new things can I learn?”, the deranged wingnut thinks “how can I use it to reinforce what I already know?”.

    From this perspective, the reasoning is simple.

    1) Colored people are animals, inferior to white people.
    2) Colored people work in farm fields.
    They must be the “beasts of the field” talked about in the Bible!

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