The Family Research Council’s Mistaken Identity

The Family Research Council has jumped on the bandwagon of right-wing opposition to President Obama’s nominee to lead the Transportation Security Administration, Erroll Southers. The gripe is that in a 2008 interview, Southers pointed to, among other groups, “Christian identity” and “anti-abortion” groups as possible domestic terrorist threats.

“That’s right,” reads FRC’s Washington Update. “The man chosen to be first line of defense against another 9-11 is more worried about churchgoers than radical Islamic fundamentalists.”

Oops. Perkins was going for a two-fer — showing that not only was an Obama nominee soft on terror, but hates Christians, too! — but he makes an embarrassing error. “Christian identity” refers not to people who identify as Christians, but to a specific movement which, according to a 1999 FBI report, “is an ideology which asserts that the white Aryan race is God’s chosen race and that whites comprise the ten lost tribes of Israel.”

If Perkins is defending that kind of Christian, it might pose a problem for his efforts to be the protector of black America.

Here’s the complete text of Southers’ remarks, courtesy of Media Matters for America:

Most of the domestic groups that we have to pay attention to here are white supremacist groups. They’re anti-government and in most cases anti-abortion. They are usually survivalist type in nature, identity orientated. If you recall, Buford Furrow came to Los Angeles in, I believe it was 1999. When he went to three different Jewish institutions, museums, and then wound up shooting people at a children’s community center, then shooting a fellow penal postal worker later on. Matthew Hale who’s the Pontifex Maximus of the World Church of the Creator out of Illinois and Ben Smith who went on a shooting spree in three different cities where he killed a number of African Americans and Jews and Asians that day. Those groups are groups that claim to be extremely anti-government and Christian identity oriented.

Southers was not talking about ordinary churchgoers, but rather about the radical far right, described in the FBI’s Project Megiddo report as “a vast number and variety of groups, such as survivalists, militias, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, Christian Identity churches, the AN and skinheads.” The report called Christian Identity “the most unifying theology for a number of these diverse groups and one widely adhered to by white supremacists. It is a belief system that provides its members with a religious basis for racism and an ideology that condones violence against non-Aryans.”

If I were to do some hair-trigger analysis here, I might think Tony Perkins was defending neo-Nazis, Aryan Nation, and the Klan. Maybe Perkins should have thought about that a bit before he accused Southers of maligning Christians.

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