Originally, Aryan Nations, whose full name was the "Church of Jesus Christ Christian (Aryan Nations)", was headquartered in Hayden Lake, Idaho and led by Richard G. Butler. It was founded in the 1970s. The IRS revoked Aryan Nations' tax-exempt status as a church early on. Aryan Nations preached a mutant version of theology known as Christian Identity, which is rejected as a heresy by almost all mainstream Christians.
The group got a great deal of negative media attention from 1983-1985 due to the activities of a violent group called "Bruders Schweigen" or "The Order" led by Robert Jay Matthews, which was involved in a series of armored car robbery, counterfeiting, bombings, and the murder of a Denver radio talk show host. Most of the members of The Order had been previously involved with Aryan Nations. Matthews died in a shootout with the FBI on Whidbey Island, Washington, while several other members of The Order were convicted and are in prison.
During the 1980s, Richard Butler and Aryan Nations attempted to bring together disparate elements of white supremacism with annual "Aryan World Congress" events held on the group's 20 acre property in Hayden Lake. The groups attending included Ku Klux Klan and skinheads.
Aryan Nations lost a 2001 lawsuit and were forced to sell their Hayden Lake property to pay the debt, this was followed by the death of Richard Butler in 2004. After these two events, what was left of Aryan Nations fractured with a few small groups in other locations using the name.
- Kaplan, Jeffrey. Radical Religion In America. Syracuse University Press, 1997.