Joseph Fitsanakis and Home-Grown Terrorism, July 5-9

This week on Religion For Life I speak with Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis about the connection between the American far right and Christian ideology. We discuss the Aryan Nations, National Alliance, the Creativity Movement, the Klan, and various skinhead and neoconfederate groups. We also discuss Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing in light of homegrown ideological terrorism. Dr. Fitsanakis coordinates the Security and Intelligence Studies program at King College in Bristol, Tennessee, where he teaches classes on intelligence and international terrorism, among other subjects.

Listen via livestream…

Thursday, July 5th at 8 pm on WETS, 89.5.
Sunday, July 8th, at noon on WEHC, 90.7.
Sunday, July 8th, at 2 pm on WETS, 89.5.
Monday, July 9th at 1 pm on WEHC, 90.7.
Via podcast beginning July 10th.

2 thoughts on “Joseph Fitsanakis and Home-Grown Terrorism, July 5-9

  1. I was disappointed to hear your guest cite the common misnomer that Timothy McVeigh was a Christian-inspired, domestic terrorist.

    McVeigh went to a Catholic Church with his mother and wrote that he lost touch with the church and never picked it up again. At the very least, at the time of the bombing he was a theist and eventually termed himself an agnostic while he was incarcerated.

    Plus, McVeigh’s attack were purely politically motivated. So, how can his estranged Catholic background qualify him as a “Christian-inspired terrorist?” It would be like me saying that Lee Harvey Oswald and John Wilkes Booth’s actions were politically motivated because they attended church when they were children.

    What gives?

  2. @Kevin: Thanks for your insightful observation. It is true that McVeigh was not what we would call a religious extrovert; compare him, for instance, to anti-abortion terrorists, and you will see what I mean. Moreover, McVeigh’s motives for his actions appear convoluted, or eclectic, to say the least. This is not rare in domestic terrorism cases –take for example the case of Andrew Stack, who flew a small airplane into the IRS building in Austin, Texas, in 2010. In his rambling suicide note he made references to a myriad of often conflicting sources, ranging from far-right to Marxist.

    Having said the above, I think one needs to be careful in drawing conclusions from your statement that McVeigh “lost touch with the church”; losing touch with the church is not the same as losing touch with Christianity. Consider, for instance, McVeigh’s own comments about his religious views in the famous May 11, 2001, issue of Time magazine (,8599,109480,00.html), which is probably the most direct source we have on the subject. His comments refer to him abandoning Catholicism, not Christianity as a whole, and he also states in his interview that even though he lost touch with the institutional church, “I do maintain core beliefs”. One of his direct quotes is: “I do believe in a God, yes. But that’s as far as I want to discuss”. My personal view is that, during his military service, he abandoned the mainstream Catholic Church precisely because he saw it as too liberal and multi-ethnic, not because of some unbridgeable doctrinal difference.

    Additionally, putting aside the strong Christian Identity message in “The Turner Diaries”, which I discussed in length in my interview, one needs to take into account McVeigh’s attempts to contact Elohim City, the notorious Christian Identity settlement in Oklahoma, which had close ties with Aryan Nations and The Covenant, The Sword and The Arm of the Lord. Court documents prepared by the prosecution clearly show that McVeigh had met Elohim City’s security director, had studied the settlement, and probably considered going there at some point. In April of 1995, he even went as far as to telephone Elohim City leaders in an attempt to arrange a visit there.

    I doubt that these clues will change your mind, particularly since this debate has been taking place for about 17 years now. But I do want to show that it is not unreasonable to suggest that —given the ideological makeup of the far-right constituency that McVeigh was a part of in the first half of the 1990s— he was, at least in part, motivated by a morbidly distorted, far-right version of the Christian doctrine. –Joseph Fitsanakis.

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