I watched the movie Mississippi Burning a few days ago. The 1988 film stars Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, and Frances McDormand. It is about the Ku Klux Klan’s murder of three civil rights workers: James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, who were attempting to organize a voter registry for African Americans in rural Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 1964. I was amazed by the similarities between the racial segregationists of the ’60s and the contemporary Christian Nationalist Movement that is today blossoming across the American religious landscape and calling for a Christian takeover of the U.S. government. The brand has not changed.
The film exposes the deep religious influence on the racial segregationist movement in the South at the time. In a moment of vulnerability, Mrs. Pell, played by Frances McDormand, says: “It’s ugly. This whole thing is so ugly. Have you any idea what it’s like to live with all this? People look at us and only see bigots and racists. Hatred isn’t something you’re born with. It gets taught. At school, they said segregation what’s said in the Bible… Genesis 9, verse 27. At seven years of age, you get told it enough times you believe it. You believe the hatred. You live it. You breathe it. You marry it.”
One example that illuminates Pell’s remarks is Clayton Townley, the fictitious character representing Samuel Bowers, an Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and architect of the murders of the three civil rights workers. In the film, Townley responds to a question from a television commentator and states, “I’m a businessman. I’m also a Mississippian and an American! And I’m getting sick and tired of the way us Mississippians are getting our views distorted by you newsmen and on the TV. So, let’s get this straight. We do not accept Jews because they reject Christ! And their control over the International Banking Cartels is at the root of what we call Communism today. We do not accept Turks, Mongrels, Tartars, Orientals, nor Negroes because we are here to protect Anglo-Saxon Democracy and the American way!”
The real Samuel Bowers was more sinister—menacing. On June 7, 1964, two weeks prior to the murders of the three civil rights workers—two of whom were Jewish and the third an African American—Bowers proclaimed to his followers: “As Christians, we are disposed to kindness, generosity, affection, and humility in our dealings with others. As militants, we are disposed to use physical force against our enemies. How can we reconcile these two apparently contradictory philosophies? The answer, of course, is to purge malice, bitterness, and vengeance from our hearts.” Bowers, ever the teacher, is helping his followers rationalize how their deep hatred and contempt that spills over into physical violence can exist within the context of their Christian virtues. This is sickening—dark. It’s clear that the militant terrorism of Samuel Bowers was driven by his Christian worldview—a distorted one for sure, but, in his mind, a holy mission.
Some who have researched Samuel Bowers’ multiple hate crimes believe a historic Christian nationalistic ideology caused the pin to fall from the proverbial grenade in his hand. Bowers was influenced by the Christian Identity Movement of his day, which demonized minorities as sub-human and railed against Jews as satanic conspirators seeking to replace Anglo-Saxon whites. According to the Christian Identity Movement, Jews were not the Chosen People but rather the offspring of Satan.
In the fall of 1964, after the FBI found the bodies of the three civil rights workers, Bowers wrote in the Klan Ledger:
Today’s so-called Jews persecute Christians, seeking to deceive, claiming Judea as their homeland and they are God’s Chosen… They lie, for they are not Judeans but are the Synagogue of Satan!… The “long, hot summer” has passed… [and the three civil rights workers and the civil rights organizations they represented] had no laurels to their credit, and the general public of Mississippi has had a fill of their very existence…. For the success of our struggle against this scum, we offer our thanks to Almighty God, our Creator and Savior.
In his warped religious worldview, Bowers saw himself as a holy warrior on a crusade of sorts to forcibly create a white Christian America—much like a radical Islamist seeks to build an Islamic Caliphate in a given region of the world. Not only was Bowers found guilty of instigating the murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, but he also murdered (white) civil rights leader Vernon Dahmer in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in 1966, and was accused of bombing Jewish targets in Jackson and Meridian, Mississippi. He would die in prison at the age of 82 in 2006 after piling up a “Christian” killing spree of nine murders and 300 beatings, burnings, and bombings. These acts of vengeance were often accompanied by a burning cross—the signature emblem of the Klan that was designed not only to declare their devotion to Christ but to instill fear in their victims.
It is accurate to say that Samual Bowers was sincerely devoted to his purported Christian faith during his time as the Imperial Wizard of the White Knights—a terrorist group numbering 10,000 vigilantes under his leadership. In all public meetings of the Knights, Bowers opened in prayer, read from his Bible, and spoke in religious language with statements like: “A Solemn, determined Spirit of Christian Reverence must be stimulated in all (White Knight) members.” One may find it difficult to comprehend how Bowers, on the one hand, can appear dedicated to Christian charity but, on the other, use militant force against his enemies. I think the seventeenth-century philosopher Blaise Pascal explained this paradox best when he noted, “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.”
When one examines the Christian nationalistic ideology behind the hatred depicted in the film Mississippi Burning, one concludes that the Christian nationalist brand has not changed since the time Christianity first sounded the genocidal note—the moment when the Church merged with the Roman Empire under Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E. and declared a final separation from its Jewish foundation. Here is a decree from the Council of Nicaea:
And truly, in the first place, it seemed to everyone a most unworthy thing that we should follow the custom of the Jews in the celebration of this holiest solemnity (Passover) who, polluted wretches, having stained their hands with a nefarious crime, are justly blinded in their minds…. It is fit, therefore, that rejecting the practice of this people, we should perpetuate to all future ages the celebration of this rite, in a more legitimate order…. Let us have nothing in common with the most hostile rabble of the Jews.
In his book Has Anti-Semitism Roots in Christianity? Jewish historian Jules Isaac states, “After very deep historical research, I say and maintain that the fate of the Jewish people did not take on a truly inhuman character until the 4th century A.D. with the coming of the Christian empire.”
In his Dialogue with Trypho, A Jew, written between 155 and 160, church father Justin Martyr lays the groundwork for the Christian Identity Movement that would later influence Samuel Bowers to demonize and terrorize Jews when he writes,
The true spiritual Israel and descendants of Judah, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham… are we who have been led to God through this crucified Christ… We who have been quarried out from the bowels of Christ are the true Israelitic race… They [God’s promises to Israel] are not yours but ours.
Driven by jealousy, the early Church fathers developed a Christian theology that delegitimized Jews, Judaism, and Israel. This theology continues to be widely propagated today in Christian seminaries and church pulpits and is known as replacement theology, supersessionism, or triumphalism. This theology teaches that Christians have superseded Jews, triumphed over them, and replaced them as God’s Chosen People. This theology inspired the Crusades, the Inquisition, the pogroms, and the Holocaust. This same theology of replacement is the impetus behind the long history of Christian anti-Semitism and the rudder of historic and contemporary Christian nationalism. Whenever Christianity merges with the state while at the same time being driven by the apostate doctrine of supersessionism, it never ends well for Jews. Modern scholars call this merger of secular nationalism with ideological religious terrorism “hybrid terrorism.”
The marriage of Justin Martyr’s doctrine of replacement to Constantine’s secular nationalism was consummated in 325 C.E. Since then, the brand has not changed. The emblems and rallying cries of Christian nationalists change, but the brand remains constant. The symbol of the murderous Christian crusaders was the cross, and their cry was Deus vult: “God wills it.” The emblem of the Inquisition, in which many Jews (specifically those forcibly converted to Catholicism in previous years) were tortured and murdered, was an olive branch of peace and a sword—symbols that sadistically mixed kindness with physical violence, much like Samuel Bowers sought to do. Inscribed on many devices used to torture the Church’s victims were the words Soli Deo gloria (“Glory be only to God”). In most cases, the murders were not performed by the Church but carried out by secular authorities under the Pope’s command. The Inquisition is an example of hybrid terrorism.
In Nazi Germany, many emblems represented the merger of Christianity with Nazi ideology, including the iron cross. As well, the belt buckles worn by Wehrmacht soldiers were emblazoned with the words Gott mit uns (“God is with us”). The favorite rallying cry of the German people during Hitler’s reign was Deutschland erwach! (“Germany awaken!”). Hitler was demanding that Aryan Germans come to the realization—awaken—to the Nazi belief that Jewish Bolsheviks were coming to replace them and destroy their Christian values. Hitler—who, ironically, rejected Christianity as a form of European “Judaism” that had corrupted the purity of the Germanic spirit—wrote in Mein Kampf that “In standing guard against the Jew, I am defending the handiwork of the Lord.” The emblem of the KKK was a burning cross, and the motto was “For God, Race, and Nation.” During the insurrection of January 6, 2021, at our nation’s capital, Christian Nationalists displayed crosses and held up banners proclaiming, “Trump is my president, and Jesus is my savior.” One carried a huge picture of Jesus wearing a MAGA hat.
Christian anti-Semitism continues to rear its ugly head not only at events such as the January 6 insurrection, but also at ostensibly Christian public events. To promote its thirty-five-stop 2023 national tour, the Christian Nationalist group ReAwaken America used an anti-Semitic trope. The headline is in bold letters: “THE GREAT REAWAKENING VS. THE GREAT RESET.” Pictured on the “Great Re-Awakening” side are six people, including the founder of the organization, longtime anti-Semite Clay Clarke, Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and Mike Lindell, founder of My Pillow. Conspicuously positioned on the side of the “righteous” is a holy Bible. On the Great Reset side, there are also six individuals pictured: Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, Jewish billionaire George Soros, Bill Gates, Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari, Barack Obama, and Jewish entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg. Also featured in this section is the cover of a book by WEF founder Klaus Schwab entitled COVID-19: The Great Reset and a graphic picture of a (satanic) serpent with its mouth opened and fangs extended toward the book.
It is true that on the “righteous” left side of the image also included the late Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, outspoken advocate of natural COVID treatments and pious Orthodox Jew. Still, given the context, let us not be fooled. The underlying message of the promotional image is clear: The leaders of the great re-awakening represent all that is holy, and the six leaders of the great reset represent all that is evil. It is Bible-believing Christians against evil men who desire to reset the world to a new un-Christian standard. If that optic is not troubling enough, it gets worse. Of the six people on the “evil” side, half are Jewish by birth. So the ultimate message is obvious: ReAwaken America is about righteous Christians fighting evil Jews. The organization’s (cynical) inclusion of Zelenko is far more likely a way of covering its anti-Jewish tracks than genuinely showing that Jews—religious, non-leftist ones at least—are welcome in their Christian utopia. Evidence very much to the contrary is that, in the massive product stores at ReAwaken conferences, one distributor was caught handing out a recommended reading list which included the anti-Semitic booklet The Protocols of the Elders of Zion—first exposed as a forgery more than a century ago—free of charge.
One of the speakers in the ReAwaken America line-up is Scott McKay, who is also known as “Patriot Street Fighter” and has a streaming program on Rumble. Mckay sympathized with Hitler because he was attempting to break “free of the Rothschild’s corrupt money-magic fiat system” and develop “a banking system for the people of the free world.” He has said, “Hitler was fighting the same people we’re trying to take down. These people are so elusive and slippery and cunning that we ended up having WWII.” The implication is that Jews caused the very war which culminated in their near-extermination. McKay also says that the 9/11 terror attack was orchestrated by “the same group of people that has done a very good job at hiding under the religion of Judaism.” McKay draws from the ancient anti-Semitic myth of the blood libel when he proclaims Jews practice “satanism” and “child sacrifice” in which they bleed children to death, “torturing them, consuming them, eating their hearts.”
Another prominent speaker in the Reawaken America tour is pastor Greg Locke of Global Vision Bible Church in Tennessee. In a May 7, 2023, sermon, Locke proclaimed, “If the Jewish people are really God’s people, then how come all these centuries they’ve had so many problems, and there’s a curse upon them, and Hitler killed six million of them? And how come it took till 1948 to get back into their homeland, and why is there right now the threat of civil war this month in Israel? Why are they [Jews] having so much trouble if they really are the people of God?”
To sum it up, Christianity is in a religious war against an evil world empire controlled by Jewish billionaires, Jewish entrepreneurs, and Jewish academics. The organization’s motto “ReAwaken America”/“the Great Awakening” sounds a lot like the Nazi rallying cry Deutschland erwach! It is a clarion call warning contemporary Christian nationalists that if they don’t wake up, they will be replaced by the globalist vision of nefarious Jews.
Christian nationalist Rick Wiles, founder of the cable/radio/online outlet TruNews and pastor of Flowing Streams Church in Vero Beach, Florida, regularly blames Jews on his media outlets for “attacking American Christian culture” and warns Jews that Christians plan to impose a “Christian rule in this country.” Wiles foments hate by claiming things such as the following: “A day is coming when Christians are going to lose their lives as they confront the synagogue of Satan… [T]hey [Jews] are coming for you… there will be a purge… when Jews take over a country… they kill millions of Christians. Our culture has been decimated. Who has attacked our Christian culture? Who has filed lawsuits to remove crosses and Bibles? Who has done it? The synagogue of Satan [Jews].”
Christian Nationalism has taken root in American Evangelicalism, and rampant within this movement is a concerning anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism. A 2023 Public Religion Research Institute-Brookings Institution survey of more than 6,000 Americans found that 27% of Americans (close to 100 million people) believe the U.S. government should declare America a Christian nation; 44% believe American Jews are more loyal to Israel than to America; and 23% believe Jewish people hold too many positions of power in the U.S. government. Echoing this sentiment is Christian nationalist Nick Fuentes, who proclaimed soon after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “If Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Jewish woman, didn’t die last year , so that Amy Coney Barrett, a Catholic woman, could be appointed to the bench, we would still have Roe v. Wade. Now, you tell me that this is a Judeo-Christian country. You tell me that it doesn’t matter that we have a lot of Jewish people in government.” Driving Jews out of the public square is an act of tyranny. Fuentes declares himself to be a “Christian Futurist” and proclaims that he wants the present century in America “to be the most Christian century in the history of human earth [sic].”
There is nothing new in the Christian Nationalist brand. The lust to mix piety with political power is just too tempting. The jealousy embodied within replacement theology is apparently too powerful for many Christians to overcome. That’s why Jews are always the enemy of those who embrace hybrid terrorism. Declaring Jews are no longer God’s chosen people makes it easier—convenient, really—to say they are Satan’s seed. What the early Church fathers, the Nazis, Samuel Bowers, and contemporary Christian nationalists all have in common is they all drink from the same poisoned well. Anti-Semitism that comes from the left is like climate change—it moves slowly. But anti-Semitism that comes from the Christian Nationalist right is like a hurricane—its destructive force has always led to tyranny and ended in Jewish bloodshed.
The rhetoric of contemporary Christian nationalists sounds a lot like the ideology of Samuel Bowers, and it is leaning toward a call to violence. FBI agent Ward asks a foreboding question in Mississippi Burning: “Where does it come from? All this hatred?” Let’s hope today’s Christian nationalists will connect the dots to their brand’s blood-soaked past before more people are hurt.