Sunday, June 01, 2003

Letters! We Get Letters!

Man, the Washington Post is gonna get letters after this one...

The arrest of alleged Olympic bomber Eric Robert Rudolph may finally allow authorities to answer a question that has loomed since the beginning of the five-year hunt for him, but that has taken on deeper resonance since Sept. 11, 2001: Is he a "Christian terrorist"?

The question is not just whether Rudolph is a terrorist, or whether he considers himself a Christian. It is whether he planted bombs at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, two abortion clinics and a gay nightclub to advance a religious ideology -- and how numerous, organized and violent others who share that ideology may be.

Federal investigators believe Rudolph has had a long association with the radical Christian Identity movement, which asserts that North European whites are the direct descendents of the lost tribes of Israel, God's chosen people. Some investigators also think he may have written letters that claimed responsibility for the nightclub and abortion clinic bombings on behalf of the Army of God, a violent offshoot of Christian Identity.

"We declare and will wage total war on the ungodly communist regime in New York and your legaslative bureaucratic lackey's in Washington. It is you who are responsible and preside over the murder of children and issue the policy of ungodly preversion thats destroying our people," one of the letters said, in childish penmanship riddled with errors.

"Based on what we know of Rudolph so far, and admittedly it's fragmentary, there seems to be a fairly high likelihood that he can legitimately be called a Christian terrorist," said Michael Barkun, a professor of political science at Syracuse University who has been a consultant to the FBI on Christian extremist groups.
Barkun said the anti-gay and antiabortion positions that may have motivated Rudolph's alleged bombings "are a rather subordinate theme" in Christian Identity. He noted, however, that members of Rudolph's extended family have said he viewed abortion not just as the taking of life, but as a threat to the white race.

"The notion that there are significant numbers of white mothers having abortions, and therefore the race is being endangered, is interesting, because racial genocide is a major theme in Christian Identity," Barkun said.

Rudolph's concern for abortion is, according to his sister, limited to concern for the abortion of white babies. Another thing to note is that the basic theological beliefs underlying Christian Identity were also used by some to justify Apartheid in South Africa. It's somewhat muddled, but Christian Anglo-Saxons are descended from Abel, Jews are descended from Cain, and "mud people" are descended from pre-Adamic beings, and thus not part of God's Chosen.