James Wickstrom, a self-described “pastor” and Michigan resident, is a prominent white supremacist who has been invited to speak at a white supremacist gathering in Kalamazoo on August 4. Wickstrom is an adherent and pastor of Christian Identity a religion that is popular on the far right in anti-government and white supremacist movements. According to media reports, Wickstrom has maintained a low profile in Michigan since returning, despite the fact that he is one of the most notorious leaders of the Christian Identity movement.
Christian Identity is a religion that asserts that whites of European descent can be traced back to the “Lost Tribes of Israel.” Many followers of Christian Identity believe that Jews are the Satanic offspring of Eve and the Serpent while “non-whites” are considered “mud peoples” created by Adam and Eve. The religion–descended from British-Israelism and moved to the United States in the 1930s–became anti-Semetic under the leadership of Wesley Swift who founded the Church of Jesus Christ Christian and who was active in the Ku Klux Klan. Christian Identity has various sets of belief, for example, some adherents believe in Swift’s “two-seed” theory that the seduction of Eve by the Serpent was sexual and Cain was the father of the Jewish people and thus all Jews are children of the devil. Other Identity adherents of a “one-seed” theory do not believe that the Jewish people are physically descended from Satan. The religion also incorporates millennialism or the belief that the world is in its final days.
In The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right, Daniel Levitas explains that Wickstrom, who was born in Munising, Michigan, turned Identity theology after attending meetings of the Little People’s Tax Advisory Committee while living in Wisconsin, a rightwing group that mixed tax protest with Christian Identity beliefs. He eventually moved to Schell City, Missouri where he lived at the Church of our Christian Heritage compound (later renamed Church of Israel). Wickstrom taught geography and history at the compound before forming his own group called the Mission of Jesus the Christ Church, which Levitas claims was a tax dodge. In 1978, Wickstrom returned to Wisconsin and formed the township of Tigerton Dells and got involved with the Life Science Church, through which he formed the Christian Liberty Academy where he taught children of Posse Comitatus supporters.
In 1979, Wickstrom was granted a leadership position (Wickstrom dubbed himself “National Director of Counterinsurgency)” in the Posse Comitatus organization. The Posse Comitatus, a legalistic, far right paramilitary formation, frequently blended far right politics with Christian Identity theology while emphasizing the need for people to legally challenge government authority, stockpile arms, participate in military training, and prepare for the coming apocalypse. Posse founder William Potter Gale was a virulent anti-Semite and promoted anti-Jewish views within the organization.
In the early 1980s, Wickstrom traveled extensively throughout the Midwest organizing farmers, conducting paramilitary training sessions, holding big tent revival style meetings, and calling for the hanging of his enemies from “ALL the telephone poles” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Wickstrom and the Posse Comitatus were able to take advantage of discontent among farmers and shifts in the economy to move people towards anti-Semetic and Identity beliefs. Wickstrom preached that the farm crisis was a result of a Jewish conspiracy, telling farmers that “Jew money barons” had created the Depression and were attempting to do the same thing by “financially and morally raping the WHITE CHRISTIAN AMERICAN PEOPLE.” Around this time Wickstrom also ran for elected office twice, seeking a United States Senate seat on the Constitution Party ticket (he received 16,000 votes out of 2 million cast) and later for governor of Wisconsin (he received 7,721 votes). Wickstrom appeared frequently in the mainstream media following a shootout between Posse Comitatus member Gordon Kahl and the federal government as well, using the media as a recruiting vehicle by minimizing his Christian Identity rhetoric and focusing on economics.
Wickstrom eventually did time in prison for his activities with the racist right. In 1983, Wickstrom was sentenced to one and a half years in prison for impersonating a public official. The charges were filed in relation to his incorporation of “the Constitution Township of Tigerton Dells in Wisconsin,” which Wickstrom formed to “remove” Posse Comitatus members from government jurisdiction and thus exempt them from paying taxes and following state regulations according to author Daniel Levitas. Wickstrom was convicted of illegally representing himself as a judge and township clerk. In 1990, Wickstrom was sentenced to prison for his role in a plot to distribute $100,000 in counterfit cash at the Aryan Nations World Congress to fund paramilitary activities. While never held criminally responsible for the murders, Levitas told the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2000 that Wickstrom has “the blood of victims” on his hands following murders in the 1980s conducted by a follower of Wickstrom at a far right compound in Rulo, Nebraska.
While his public profile has declined since the 1980s, Wickstrom remains active. He continues to preach (the brother of Oklahoma City bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols attended an event organized by Wickstrom), operates a website, hosts a radio program called “Yaweh’s Truth” on the white supremacist Turner Radio Network, and sells a variety of Christian Identity materials via mail order. Wickstrom continues to weigh in on issues facing the United States, arguing that Jewish people are responsible for immigration from Mexico and declaring on his website that President George W. Bush is a “demonic kike”–a reference to the Christian Identity belief that Jewish people are the embodiment of Satan. He was also welcomed into the Aryan Nations as part of an effort to rekindle interest in the group on the racist right in the early 2000s. In 2005, fellow Christian Identity preacher Keith Kallstrom was arrested allegedly on his way to murder Wickstrom after Wickstrom began a relationship with Kallstrom’s wife.
Wickstrom’s website prominently featured his anti-Semitic message, with Wickstrom calling for the deaths of all Jewish people on his homepage:
The only way to totally eliminate racial strife in the United States and throughout the world… there is only one solution… BURY EVERY JEW ON EARTH.
Wickstrom’s homepage reprints the story of “The Poisonous Mushroom” a piece of Nazi propaganda for children developed by Julius Streicher who was executed in 1946 for his role in the Holocaust:
Just as poisonous mushrooms spring up everywhere, so the Jew is found in every country in the world. Just as poisonous mushrooms often lead to the most dreadful calamity, so the Jew is the cause of misery and distress, illness and death.
The above tale tells the truth about the Jewish poison mushroom. They show the many shapes the Jew assumes. They show the depravity and baseness of the Jewish race. They show the Jew for what he really is:
The Devil in human form
Wickstrom adds to this story on his homepage, declaring that the Jewish people are not “White” and are instead “a mongrel blood race:”
And it is proven fact, that the jews and Whites are of a different race. It also shows in itself as to how the jews have financed the Blacks, who were unknowing of the jews plan to use them against the Whites. The jews are of Asiatic blood. They are a mongrel blood race, whose desire is to destroy all pure races on this earth using racial mongrelization (diversity and pluralism), mainly against the White race, the Black race, and the Oriental Race.
Wickstrom has repeatedly advocated the mass killing of Jewish people during his “career.” The Southern Poverty Law Center cited an interview with Wickstrom in which he advocated giving Jewish people “the holocaust they rightly deserve:”
I’d like to see these Jews all be brought to the VA [Veterans Administration hospital] and wooden chairs be put down on the lawn. Tie the Jews in. Bring these veterans down who have been mutilated, physically mutilated, their lives ruined without the opportunity of a family or children, and give them baseball bats and let them beat these Jews to death! Every one of them!
Take these chairs and Jews after they’re beaten to death, throw ’em in the wood chipper! And from the wood chipper let the remains go into a big incinerary truck, which is right behind the wood chipper, and give them the holocaust they rightly deserve!
This call for Jewish people to be put through “the wood chippers” was made again on July 11, 2007 when Wickstrom called into fellow racist Hal Turner’s radio show:
You know, once these are things, little silver bullets, that we can talk about. But you know, I really believe and you know Hal–we’ve had the pleasure of meeting each other and we’re going to see each other soon in Kalamazoo, Michigan–once the Jewish issue is settled, with all of them going through the wood chippers, the races–I’m talking about all the races–will go their separate ways… no more race mixing, no more jew communist tolerance.
All of modern Jewry, my dream is all of them going through the wood chippers.
His hatred of Jewish people and violent anti-Semitism, long a staple of his rhetoric, is also heard in a radio show available on the Internet produced by Wickstrom called “The Lying Jews.” The undated show, broadcast on the Turner Radio Network with an MP3 version circulated on various anti-Semetic blogs, features Wickstrom in what appears to be a satirical dialog with a “Rabbi Abe Finkelstein,” who “confirms” all of Wickstrom’s stereotypes. On the broadcast, Wickstrom raises “doubts” about the reality of the Holocaust, argues that there is a “Jewish race,” and says “the reason they [Jews] are persecuted is because they are thieves, liars, and murderers.” Wickstrom further argues that the Federal Reserve System is a “private Jewish bank,” an accusation frequently leveled by the anti-Semetic right, who like Wickstrom, believe that the Jews are nothing more than “Christ murderers.” Wickstrom further has this Rabbi explaining that the war in Iraq was undertaken for Jewish financial interests. Wickstrom also advances the idea that 7 Jewish families have controlled all of the money in the United States since 1913. The majority of the broadcast repeats old stereotypes mixed with conspiratorial ranting common on the racist right.
Wickstrom has long advanced the idea that there is a “Jewish conspiracy” to control the government, stating in an interview on his website that:
It was obvious to everyone in the 60’s and 70’s that the leadership in the student movement, for example, like Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, political leaders in foreign policy who betrayed us, like Henry Kissinger, just to name a few, were all Jewish.
Then, when I went back and looked at history, the Rockefellers, Armand Hammer and a handful of others of the Jewish race had their hands in the subversion of this country. They did it gradually, and everyone knew it. No one said a word for fear of being singled out by them. They even created groups to attack anyone who questioned their agenda, like the Anti-Defamation League.
And the Jewish Defense League, the JDL, was absolutely brutal in the 60’s and 70’s. They took over our national press and they already had Hollywood. They basically had control over the flow of information. Any comments critical of them are still attacked and deemed unfit for dissemination and consumption.