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The Church of Israel was first organized in 1972. Dan Gayman had deposed the leaders of the Church of Christ at Zion's Retreat and was then elected leader of that church. Most of the members of the church followed Gayman. However, the deposed leaders of the Zion's Retreat church sued Gayman, and the courts ordered that the church property and name be returned to the deposed leaders, and that the members of Gayman's congregation be barred from the premises. Gayman informally organized his congregation under the name "the Church of Our Christian Heritage". In 1977, Gayman and 10 other individuals were arrested for trespassing when they led a group back to the Church of Christ at Zion's Retreat in an attempted forcible takeover. In 1981, Gayman incorporated his church under the name Church of Israel. Little of the Latter Day Saint movement background of the church remains in its current teachings and practices,[1][2] although the influence and beliefs of the Fettingite and the Church of Christ (Temple Lot) seem to be apparent in the rural and isolationist ("survivalist") settings for the church's headquarters and are practiced by many of its adherents. ("Message 18" in the Fettingite corpora urges believers to "go to the land" in order to "flee destruction" in or of, American cities.)

An investigative newspaper report about the Church of Israel was published in the Joplin Globe in January 2001.[3] The report was mostly negative and suggested that the church had ties to the Christian Identity movement. The Anti-Defamation League includes the Church of Israel in its list of "extremist groups."[4] The ADL report states that members of the church are said to have been involved at times with controversial figures such as Bo Gritz, Eric Rudolph, and Thomas Robb, a national leader of the Ku Klux Klan.[4]

2003 Rudolph connectionEdit

In 2003, it was revealed that the Olympic Park bomber and one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives, Eric Rudolph, and his mother had attended the Church of Israel in 1984 for three or four months, when Eric was 18.[5][6] Gayman assumed a fatherly relationship with Rudolph and planned to groom Eric as a potential son-in-law by encouraging Eric to date his daughter.

2003 lawsuitEdit

After a falling-out between Gayman and two other leaders of the church in 2003,[7] Gayman filed a lawsuit in an attempt to revoke a severance agreement that included the deed to a house and property that had been given to a former minister, Scott Stinson. Ultimately the judge sided with Stinson.[7]


The church issues a quarterly newsletter called The Watchman.[4]


Serpent seed doctrineEdit

Gayman is famous for propagating the theology known as "two-seedline", or "serpent seed" doctrine. This doctrine holds that white people are descendants of Adam and are hence the chosen people of God. The Jewish people are said to be descendants of Cain and thus of Satan. This belief was developed by Wesley A. Swift, Conrad Gaard, Dan Gayman,[4][8] and William Potter Gale, among others.[9]

Political viewsEdit

The Church of Israel holds a "deep distrust for the government".[6] At one time, the church did not believe in the use of Social Security numbers, driver's licenses, or marriage licenses.[6] Most children in the church who were home-birthed do not have Social Security numbers.[6]


The Church of Israel believes that the medical profession is "Jewish" and discourages the use of doctors and immunizations.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b J. Gordon Melton, Encyclopedia of American Religions (Detroit: Gale, ISBN 0-8103-7714-4) p. 540.
  2. ^ Lambertson, Giles (3 June 1976), written at Schell City, MO, "11 Arrested at Church After a Take-Over Try", The Nevada Daily Mail, Nevada, MO: Rust Communications, 92 (252), pp. 1–2, retrieved 16 August 2012
  3. ^ Max McCoy, "Separatist by faith: Church of Israel's patriarch rebuts claims of racism" Archived 2012-02-22 at the Wayback Machine, Joplin Globe, January 28, 2001.
  4. ^ a b c d "Extremism in America: Dan Gayman". Anti-Defamation League. 2005. Archived from the original on 29 September 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  5. ^ Laura Parker, Richard Willing and Larry Copeland, "Rudolph was not the suspect FBI expected", USA Today, 2003-06-05.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Tim and Sarah Gayman Discuss Growing Up in the Anti-Semitic Christian Identity Movement", Intelligence Report (Summer 2001 ed.), Southern Poverty Law Center (102), 2001, retrieved 16 August 2012
  7. ^ a b Woodin, Debbie (1 May 2003). "Judge denies Church of Israel loses suit". tes. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  8. ^ "Christian Identity". Watchman Fellowship. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  9. ^ Lewis, James R.; Jesper Aagaard Petersen (2005). Controversial New Religions (illustrated ed.). Oxford University Press US. pp. 394–395. ISBN 978-0-19-515682-9. Retrieved 2009-02-20.


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