Extremism in America: Richard Butler

  • September 9, 2004

For nearly three decades, "Reverend" Richard Butler led Aryan Nations and the Church of Jesus Christ Christian -- the nation's most well-known bastion of neo-Nazism and Christian Identity. During the past few years, however, Butler's tenure was fraught with upheaval and uncertainty. In the fall of 2000, with membership already on the decline, both he and Aryan Nations were bankrupted by a lawsuit (stemming from an assault by the group's guards). Butler was forced to relinquish the Aryan Nations compound, and the group's future appeared tenuous. Shortly thereafter, in September 2001, Aryan Nations announced that Butler had selected Harold Ray Redfeairn as his successor and that it would open an "office" in the Ulysses, Pennsylvania, home of August Kreis, its Director of Information. After several months of infighting and recriminations, though, both Kreis and Redfeairn broke off from Butler (and each other) and established separate factions. Although well into his 80s, Butler claimed to be re-organizing, and in 2003 he even ran for mayor of Hayden, Idaho. At the time of his death in September 2004, Butler remained a revered figure in the extremist world, and was a featured speaker at white supremacist gatherings around the country.

Read the full report, Extremism in America: Richard Butler (PDF).