Aryan Nations’ Defectors Form Church of True Israel

Dropping their former boss' trappings of Hitlerism, a group of defectors from Richard Butler's hard-pressed Aryan Nations have formed a rival white supremacist church that appears to be making a bid for power.

The new organization, the Church of True Israel (CTI), is headed up by Charles Mangels, Butler's Montana state leader until 1995. The two men split at the Aryan World Congress that year, after Butler discovered his lieutenant plotting with others to depose him as Aryan Nations chieftain.

Mangels and four others — John R. Burke, John Miller, Stanley McCollum and Chuck Howarth, who died in November — formed the group on paper in late 1996, according to The (Spokane, Wash.) Spokesman-Review newspaper.

But it only became active last fall, after Butler and his group were hit with a $6.3 million civil judgment in a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of a woman and her son who were terrorized by Aryan security guards.

In January, just weeks before Butler's northern Idaho compound was to be sold at auction, an angry exchange broke out between Butler and CTI, which is based in Noxon, Mont.

"The loss of my home, church, personal possessions and automobiles didn't hurt so much as the loss of those who claimed to be my friends and comrades," Butler wrote in an Internet posting. He accused the men who once "pretended to be part of the inner core" of his Aryan Nations of fleeing "like capon chickens when the enemy attacked."

For CTI'S part, Burke told The Spokesman-Review that the new church was dispensing with Butler's swastikas, uniforms and neo-Nazi Skinheads — although it remains committed to Christian Identity, a theology that holds that Jews are the biological descendants of Satan.

His church, Burke said, was aimed at "working-class people with white, Christian values." That does not include, CTI'S web site explains, "Jews, Orientals, Mexicans, Negroes or any other combination of Mongrels."