Schell City, Mo. -- The pastor of a church that claimed Christian Patriot movement leader Bo Gritz as director said Friday the church had disbanded. The 46-year-old pastor, Scott Stinson, denounced the Christian Identity movement as the "work of Satan" and said he was leaving the subculture forever.
"I have pursued this movement for 20 years ... only to discover myself in the midst of the Kingdom of Darkness and overtaken by its spirit," Scott Stinson said in a letter to the membership of the loosely organized Church of Israel Redeemed.
The church, which had been renting a community building in Schell City periodically to observe feast days, was formed in May. In general, Christian Identity holds that white Europeans are the true chosen people of the Bible, that Jews are the biological children of Satan and that a cataclysmic war between the forces of good and evil is imminent.
Also, many believers observe biblical feast days such as Tabernacles, Passover and Pentecost, as determined by the Jewish lunar calendar. Last November, Stinson left the Church of Israel, a white separatist church that owns about 1,400 acres in northeastern Vernon County. The church claims direct descent from a colony formed here in 1941 by a group of disaffected Mormons and others.
Stinson had been a junior pastor at the church, and the circumstances of his leaving created a rift within the Church of Israel that pitted the church's most generous patron, Texas businessman Jerry Gentry, against church patriarch Dan Gayman.
Gentry took Stinson's side in the dispute and helped negotiate a settlement package that included $20,000 in cash and the deed to a $100,000 parsonage. The Church of Israel later contested the agreement.
Most of the membership of the new church, never estimated at more than 50, was mostly composed of those who had left the Church of Israel because of the rift.
Earlier this year, Stinson mildly denounced Christian Identity, but kept his ties to Gentry, who operated the upstart church's Web site.
Gentry, 57, of Big Sandy, Texas, also was a leading contributor to Herbert W. Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God before being "disfellowshipped" in the early 1980s. He began attending the Church of Israel because of its beliefs, he has said, and eventually contributed more than $600,000. Gentry is opposed to mixed marriages, says blacks and Jews are among the "primate races" created before Adam, and believe the Gospel applies only to whites.
Gritz, a former Special Forces officer who burns United Nations flags at gun shows across the country, was the featured speaker at services observed by the new church in April and June.
Gritz, of Sandy Valley, Nev., is probably best-known for negotiating an end to the Ruby Ridge, Idaho, standoff in 1992.
Stinson said Friday that he had a revelation that Christian Identity's message of racial pride is antithetical to Christ's message of hope. The epiphany was sparked, he said, when his wife, Lori, moved to Florida with their seven children.
"I hereby renounce Christian Identity as Satan's great counterfeit," Stinson said. "The Bible says that every tree is known by its fruit, and the fruit of the Israel Identity movement is definitely not of God, but the enemy himself." Stinson said he would start no new ministries.