|Church of Jesus Christ–Christian|
|Political position||Christian Identity|
|Leader||Wesley A. Swift (1948-1970)|
Richard Butler (1970-2001)
Harold Ray Redfeairn (2001-2002)
Richard Butler (2002-2004)
Jerald O'Brien (2004-present)
|Colours||red, white, blue|
The Church of Jesus Christ–Christian, also known as the Aryan Nations, is a religious organisation in the United States which believes in Christian Identity. The original church was founded by Wesley A. Swift in 1948; his father had been a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church South and he himself had been a member of the second Ku Klux Klan. After the death of Swift, the successor was Richard Girnt Butler who moved the organisation to Idaho in 1974.
Following a Southern Poverty Law Center law suit in 2000, the organisation lost their Idaho compound and fell on hard times, including having leadership problems. Three groups emerged from this; (I) the Idaho supporters continued on under Richard Butler until his death in 2004 and then followed Jerald O'Brien (II) Charles Juba and August Kreis III headed up a Pennsylvania faction named the Tabernacle of Phineas Priesthood (III) the Church of the Sons of YHVH associated with Harold Ray Redfeairn and Morris Gulett.
The original name of the organisation was the White Identity Church of Jesus Christ–Christian, shortening it to simply Church of Jesus Christ-Christian in 1957. After the death of Swift, his successor continued to use the latter name, but also Aryan Nations. In February 2001, the rights to the two names and the Idaho compound were transferred to Victoria and Jason Keenan when the Keenans won a US$6.3 million lawsuit against the organizations following an altercation with some Aryan Nations members.
Its origin lies in the teachings of Wesley Swift, a significant figure in the early Christian Identity movement. Swift combined British Israelism, resistance to Jewish supremacism, and white separatism. He founded his own church in California in the mid 1940s. In addition, he had a daily radio broadcast in California during the 1950s and 60s. In 1957, the name of his church was changed to the Church of Jesus Christ-Christian, which is used today by Aryan Nations churches.
From the 1970s until 2001 the headquarters of Aryan Nations was in a 20 acre (81,000 m²) compound at Hayden Lake, Idaho. There were a number of state chapters, only loosely tied to the main organization. Beginning in 1980 Pastor Butler began holding annual Aryan Nations Congresses attracting a wide variety of White nationalist organizations and speakers.
In September 2000 the Southern Poverty Law Center won a $6.3 million judgment against the Aryan Nations (Bill Sali representing) from an Idaho jury who awarded punitive and compensatory damages to a woman and her son who were attacked by Aryan Nations guards. The lawsuit stemmed from the July 1998 attack when Aryan Nations security guards in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho shot at Victoria Keenan and her son. Bullets struck their car several times, and subsequently the car crashed, after which one of the Aryan Nations guards held the Keenans at gunpoint. As a result of the judgement, Richard Butler turned over the 20-acre compound to the Keenans, who in turn sold the property to the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Carr Foundation, who donated the land to North Idaho College, which designated it a "peace park." Currently, while tours are occasionally given on the property, cows use it for pasture. In February 2001, the group's Hayden Lake compound and intellectual property, including the names "Aryan Nations" and "Church of Jesus Christ Christian", were transferred to the Keenans.
Until 1998 the leadership of the AN remained firmly in the hands of Butler. But by that year he was over eighty and had been in poor health for some time, so at the annual "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 a loyal member and powerful Christian Identity preacher since the early 1990's. Shortly thereafter, Redfeairn and August Kreis III, propaganda minister of Aryan Nations, led a splinter group away from Butler and was expelled from the organization, but a few months later Redfeairn returned to an alliance with Butler. Ray Redfeairn died in October of 2003. Richard Butler died of heart failure in September 2004.
Since that time there has been bitter feuding between the various different splinter factions of the Aryan Nations with different people desperate to present themselves as legitimate leaders. The Idaho-based members (where the compound had been based when Butler ran it), typically followed Jerald O'Brien. A group in Pennsylvania under the name of Tabernacle of Phineas Priesthood followed August Kreis III, who "called for an alliance with Al-Qaeda" and was sent to prison in 2011. Paul Mullet, who had been a member of O'Brien's group, founded his own "Aryan Nations" organisation in 2009. When Morris Gulett was released from prison in 2010, he joined Mullet's group and expelled him after two months (Gullet had been an associate of Redfeairn and founded the Church of the Sons of YHVH splinter with him).
Among the group's teachings are the view that all non-whites—who are labelled "mud people"—have no souls and hence, no place at all in the afterlife; and since they are not going either to Heaven or Hell after they die, they have no incentive to self-regulate their earthly behavior. Jews are considered a race of devils born from Eve and Satan, and the church believes that they were placed on earth to do his bidding.
- "Attorney Morris Dees pioneer in using 'damage litigation' to fight hate groups". CNN. 2000-09-08. http://archives.cnn.com/2000/LAW/09/08/morris.dees.profile/. Retrieved 2007-08-30.
- "Richard G. Butler, 86, Dies; Founder of the Aryan Nations". New York Times. 2004-09-09. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F50D1EF93C540C7A8CDDA00894DC404482. Retrieved 2007-08-30.