Mark Downey, Christian Identity leader, dies at 63

Mark Downey, a Christian Identity leader, has died at the age of 63, according to the white supremacist website, Stormfront. The cause was lung cancer.

“Pastor” Mark Downey, as he was commonly known by in white supremacist circles, spent decades promoting Christian Identity, a racist and antisemitic doctrine that heavily influenced right-wing extremism in America. Christian Identity asserts that "Aryans," not Jews, are the true Israelites favored by God in the Bible.   

Although not as well-known or influential as Richard Girnt Butler and James Paul Wickstrom, Downey was often seen at Christian Identity events held across the country, mingling among other white supremacists and Holocaust deniers such as David Irving, Richard Kelly Hoskins, Bo Gritz, Morris Gullet and Thom Robb.   

Downey, born on December 20, 1954, led the Kinsman Redeemer Ministries and the Fellowship of God’s Covenant People, both Christian Identity churches based in northern Kentucky. The Southern Poverty Law Center identifies both organizations as hate groups.

Prior to moving to Kentucky in the early 2000s, Downey ran the Kinsman Redeemer Ministries out of Tacoma, Washington.

During the 1990s, Downey was a member of the Washington State Populist Party, a political organization dominated by white supremacists with close ties to the Northwest Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Downey’s wife, who survives him, was at that time married to K.A. “Kim” Badynski, the “Grand Dragon” of the Northwest Knights of the KKK. Downey and other Populist Party members would often meet with Badynski and other Klansmen at events, including celebrations of Adolf Hitler’s birthday on April 20.     

In 1996, Downey ran for the Washington state House of Representatives under the Washington State Populist Party banner but received only 2% of the vote.

In September 2015, Downey attended a rally supporting Kimberly Jean Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who gained international recognition after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in defiance of a June 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision guaranteeing that right in all 50 states. Downey posted a hate-filled diatribe about the event, describing the LGBT movement as “antichrist queers” and being “underhanded and conniving.”

On October 9, 2016, Downey wrote an open letter to then candidate Donald Trump in which he laments that America was once a “great Christian nation” and condemns Jewish domination of the media.

In November 2017, Downey announced on the Kinsman Redeemer Ministries website that he had stage four lung cancer.

The passing of Downey and Wickstrom (who also died last week) is a reminder of how much Christian Identity has shrunk over the years, both in overall numbers and influence within the white supremacist community. White supremacy remains a powerful movement in America today but Christian Identity long ago ceased to be its driving force.     

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