Wesley Swift, an ordained minister and staunch anticommunist, started the Church of Jesus Christ Christian in California in 1946.
Richard Butler was a close associate and follower, taking over when Swift died in 1971. ''Christian Identity'' theology declares that the ''Aryan Nations'' are ''the true, literal children of the Bible ... now scattered throughout the world and now known as the Anglo-Saxon, Teutonic, Scandinavian, Celtic peoples of the earth,'' according to Butler.
In essence, this teaching declares that, ''the Bible is the family history of the white race,'' and ''Adam is the father of the white race only.'' At the same time, according to Pastor Butler's writings, ''there are literal children of Satan in the world today ... the descendants of Cain, who was the result of Eve's original sin.''
Butler's church also bases its teachings on the work of Bertrand Comparet. An obscure southern California lawyer and untrained theologian writing about the same time as Swift, Mr. Comparet also taught that ''Anglo-Saxon [nations] are the living descendants of the Israel of the Bible.'' And he preached that the killing of 6 million Jews during World War II was ''completely mythical.''
He proclaimed whites to be the only ''sons and daughters of the Adamic family upon the face of the earth,'' and Butler continues teaching this theology abhorrent to other Christian denominations.
''We're missionaries,'' he says. ''Our mission is to conquer the earth and have dominion over it.''
The church's hymnal contains such well-known hymns as ''The Old Rugged Cross'' and ''How Great Thou Art.''
But pasted inside the front cover is the ''Aryan Victory March,'' which includes the words: ''Our hearts, our lives, we pledge/Thou we may die to save our people and our land/This cause will stand/Our millions marching on.''
Asked how many people call themselves ''Identity Christians,'' Butler says: ''I have no idea. But I know the word is being passed one to another constantly.''