Hatewatch

Influential Christian Identity Pastor Dies

Peter John “Pete” Peters, a Christian Identity minister whose messages of hate and white supremacy inspired four decades of extremists, including murderers, has died at his home in LaPorte, Colo., authorities confirmed Friday. He was 64.

Peters was the pastor of the LaPorte Church of Christ and had an Internet and radio

ministry called “Scriptures for America.” He died of renal failure on July 7.

From the pulpit and in his newsletters and radio broadcasts, Peters propounded his white supremacist views, claiming to have Biblical proof that whites are God’s “chosen people” and people of color are inferior and soulless. He also denounced Jews and gays, saying at one point that homosexuals should be executed.

In more recent years, Peters attempted to shed the “Identity” label, admitting it had a connotation problem, but his white supremacy message with a religious underpinning remained much the same. He also denounced use of the term “Judeo-Christian,’’ saying it correctly should be just “Christian.”

In his last newsletter, Peters suggested that Japan deserved the death and destruction it received from the recent earthquake and tsunami.

In a 2005 report, the Anti-Defamation League described Peters as one of the “leading anti-Jewish, anti-minority and anti-gay propagandist” in the United States.

It was Peters who spearheaded an October 1992 meeting of white supremacists and antigovernment leaders at Estes Park, Colo., two months after the FBI siege at Ruby Ridge in North Idaho, which claimed the life of a deputy U.S. marshal and the wife and son of Randy Weaver.

The gathering is now widely regarded as the birth of the modern-day antigovernment and militia movements. Those invited included Aryan Nations leader Richard G. Butler and former Aryan “ambassador” and Ku Klux Klan leader Louis Beam.

A decade earlier, it was Peter’s church in Colorado that became the meeting ground for Robert J. Matthews, leader of a white supremacist domestic terrorist group called The Order, and his associate, Ku Klux Klan leader David Lane.

Lane and other members of The Order later were implicated in the 1984 assassination of Alan Berg, a Jewish radio host in Denver.

While the FBI rounded up and successfully prosecuted members of The Order, Peters remained in the background, frequently appearing as a featured speaker at various Christian Identity churches throughout the United States.

Peters also hosted Scriptures for America Bible retreats, so-called “Family Bible Camp Conferences” and seminars throughout the United States that attracted prominent figures in the extremist movement. It is not known if he was able to make a scheduled appearance at a gathering of his followers in June in Branson, Mo.

Over the years, Peters traveled frequently. He appeared regularly at various Christian Identity gatherings and churches in northeast Washington, including the Marble Community Fellowship Church, near Northport; the Arden Community Hall, south of Colville; and the Pan American Church, called The Ark, also near Colville.

Those attending Peters’ various retreats included David Barley, pastor of a similar Christian Identity church, America’s Promise Ministries, in Sandpoint, Idaho; Robert Brock, a  black separatist affiliated with the Liberty Lobby; and Richard Kelly Hoskins, an anti-Semitic author and speaker.

Peters was born and raised in Nebraska, and was a graduate of the University of Nebraska School of Agriculture. He also attended Colorado State University before working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture – the very federal government that he later would demonize.

In the 1970s, he received a Bachelor of Sacred Literature degree from the Church of Christ Bible Training School in Gering, Neb.

He became the pastor of the LaPorte Church of Christ in 1977. The congregation there has stayed fairly small, with reportedly fewer than 100 parishioners.

His largest reach and source of funding, it appeared, came from his “Scriptures for America” broadcasts. Early on, the shows would buy 30- or 60-minute times slots on AM radio stations, mostly in rural communities. Then, with the advent of the Internet, Peters began using it and shortwave broadcasts.  He also asked supporters to book his shows on public access community television channels.

In his latest newsletter, he claimed his racially charged sermons were being broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week, around the world – in five languages.

He claimed a new antenna in Tennessee would help enlarge his audience.

He also would regularly denounce the media, suggesting it was controlled and manipulated by Jews.

“It is no secret to those with spiritual understanding that the serpentine children-of-the-devil spell-casters for the most part control the media,’’ he recently wrote. “Most minds are manipulated and molded to the extent that true Christians’ thoughts (not the Judeo-Christian crowd) are viewed as criminals.

He said that “true Christians,” including his followers, “commit thought crimes because their thinking is not politically correct. Being Biblically correct is usually politically incorrect.”

Peters also wrote that the recent earthquake and tsunami to hit Japan was the “wrath of God” and suggested that the Japanese people had it coming for acts that country committed against the United States during World War II. “Now, seventy years ago our forefathers would have rejoiced to see such disaster and destruction hit Japan,’’ he wrote. “Today we say, ‘Oh, isn’t that terrible,’ and we run to help them. Which generation needs to repent?”

Peters said the media and government leaders “will no doubt be getting the true Israelites in America to adopt some yellow, slant-eyed Jap kids to further pollute our gene pool, just like they did with the cute little fuzzyheaded black kids from the voodoo, devil worshiping nation of Haiti last year.”

For seeing and speaking such things as a true “prophet,” Peters said he would be “seen and heard not as a man of God, but a horrible, unloving, unchristian man who must wear the ugly, scary title of RACIST. That’s what he gets for loving and caring for his (and HIS) people.”

Peters will be buried at the Peters Ranch Cemetery in Laramie, Wyo.