Cult of Personality

By Christopher Zoukis

By the 1950s, Swift was delivering his ideology by means of daily radio broadcasts.  A dynamic and charismatic speaker, Swift’s message appealed to more and more people, slowly spreading across the country, appealing primarily to malcontents, those disaffected by their lot in the social and financial pecking-order of life.  These converts felt success and happiness were being taken from them by a vast conspiracy, which was composed of the government and its life-sucking taxes; the Jews, who were perceived as controlling the government; and the ‘mud people,’ who stole the jobs rightfully belonging to white people.  Righteous anger at what was happening was the common denominator among Swift’s adherents.  Richard Butler / Photo courtesy www.topsecretwriters.com

Somewhere in there, Swift hooked up with Colonel William Potter Gale, who organized anti-tax and paramilitary groups in the United States, including the California Rangers and the Posse Comitatus.  Colonel Gale introduced Swift to Richard Girnt Butler, who later founded the Aryan Nations.  Butler was an ardent white supremacist, who had never really considered the advantages of combining his racist philosophy with religion.  But he was willing to listen.  Once he heard the verbal pyrotechnics of Swift’s message, Butler saw the light.  Race and religion were the way to go.  For religion added a spiritual urgency to the hate of racism.  The result was an unprompted and spontaneous fanaticism – the army of God’s chosen people.

With Swift at the helm, aided by Butler and Colonel Gale, Christian Identity continued to grow, slowly but surely.  Then things started to fall apart for two reasons.  First, Wesley Swift died in 1970.  It quickly became apparent that Christian Identity was as much a cult of personality as it was a religion.  The movement was only as strong as its honcho.  Butler assumed control, but didn’t have the force of personality or flair of Swift.  Membership began to sag as members looked for someone to prop them up. 

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