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’.