Suspects in Synagogue Arsons and Murders Connected to "Christian Identity"

July 19, 1999

Source: Los Angeles Times

On July 19, 1999, the Los Angeles Times published an article on the anti-Semitic faith of the two suspects under investigation for the three synagogue fires in Sacramento and the murder of a gay couple in Redding, California. The two suspects, brothers Benjamin Matthew Williams and James Tyler Williams, are said to belong to a sect called Christian Identity, which considers Jews and people of color subhuman, and views abortion and homosexuality as unpardonable sins. Christian Identity, which experts believe has as many as 50,000 followers in North America, has more than 90 active ministries in 34 states and is the religion of choice for white supremacist groups such as Aryan Nations, Posse Comitatus, and factions in the Ku Klux Klan. Joe Roy, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, stated: "People don't connect the dots...but a lot of the terrorism in this country is perpetrated by people linked to Christian Identity." Benjamin Nathaniel Smith, a gunman who went on a shooting spree in Illinois on July 4th, had ties to the Illinois-based World Church of the Creator, a white supremacist group, but they deny any relationship to Christian Identity.