continued Britton, his father, and Lynch couldn't have dreamt of such triumphant rhetoric in the first years after Britton's return from the war. Their apprehension of Christian Identity was still unformed. Their great leap forward occurred in 1950 when Lynch was invited by a woman Pentecostal minister to address a gathering of racially minded Pentecostals in Mangrum, Oklahoma.
Britton traveled from San Bernardino to Mangrum with his father and three of his brothers in his father's brand new Chevy. Britton remembers the gathering with awe.
"A great glory seemed to travel with us to and from Mangrum. Connie Lynch's message was very inspiring and convincing. It was inspired by the Holy Spirit. All the prophets in the Bible were our race. Jesus was our race. We were God's champions for the white race.
"I wasn't the same person for several weeks after the meeting. That was when my real conversion to Christian Identity thinking occurred. It was more of an intellectual thing than a spiritual one. It was one that happened more in my mind than in my heart. Both were involved. But mostly the change came through studying the Bible. My entire family became convinced as well."
The Pentecostal denomination founded by Conrad Lynch, the General Assembly of Jesus Christ, was not as moved by Lynch's new-found message. In the spring of 1951, he held an all-night meeting with 75 of his pastors to convince them of Identity theology's validity. They expelled him from his church.
"If anything," says Britton, "Connie Lynch's expulsion created feelings of greater tenderness and compassion for him in our family. It was quite a transition for him, from heading a denomination of thousands to be on his own, alone."
The following years were very busy. Britton married and had six children. He and his brothers built a plastering business that thrived. The Civil Rights movement gained momentum in the South, and Connie Lynch was instrumental in creating its political opposition, the States Rights Party, to which Britton and his brothers contributed generously.
Throughout the 1950s and 60s, Britton traveled frequently to the South to address Lynch's party meetings and Klan gatherings, but Britton's feelings for this period of his life are mixed.
"It was a very exciting time, a very turbulent time. It was very exciting to be such a part of patriotic Americans who understood the tyranny we were under, who understood what Martin Luther King was up to, his closeness to Communism.
"But it was also a very difficult time. In 1963 and 1964, the Alabama attorney general 'excluded' Connie Lynch from the state. In 1965, because of our political activity, the fbi kept me and my brothers under surveillance, and we were harassed in other ways. Safety inspectors, who you might expect to visit your job sites twice a year, came to us every day. It was harassment. And there were forces who tried to have our business license revoked. The San Bernardino paper called my home the 'Crossroads of Hate.' "
Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968 brought Britton little joy. That same year Britton's wife Mary died of a brain tumor and he was left with six children to raise on his own. Of the King assassination, Britton remembers only that he was never convinced of James Earl Ray's guilt. Britton contends that some years after the assassination he met King's true killer, a "a fine man" Britton says, who was "moved by the Holy Spirit" to shoot the civil-rights leader.
Britton remained alone for two years after his wife's death. In 1970, his father introduced him to an Arkansas woman who was raising five children of her own. In 1972, Britton married her, moved to Arkansas, and built a home for their large, new family. Their time together, however, was brief. In 1975 Britton's second wife died and so began a long, grief-stricken period in Britton's life. Britton offers few details of these years. He wandered. He returned, he says, to the religion of his childhood. He turned, he says, to "more spiritual matters." He left Arkansas. Worked in Texas for a while. In 1988 he moved to Vista to live near and work with his son, who by this time had his own plastering business.
He renewed his activity with the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, which, under Richard Butler's leadership, had moved to Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, and become synonymous with Aryan Nation. Britton started his own organization in Vista called the National Identity Crusade, held monthly meetings, and sought new members from the ranks of racially minded folks in North County and central California. Britton also spent a lot of time in Coeur D'Alene, lecturing at gatherings and networking with the new generation of men and women attracted to Christian Identity. In 1992, Britton met his third wife, Joan Kahl, the former wife of Gordon Kahl, a member of the Posse Comitatus killed in a shootout with law-enforcement officials in Arkansas in 1983.
After marrying Kahl, Britton devoted himself to helping her with her legal troubles, although the two of them did continue to speak regularly on the Christian Identity circuit. Britton says that last week's decision by Butler to name him as successor took him by surprise.
"It was destiny," Britton says.
He's quick to point out that Butler hasn't announced that he's immediately stepping down. Britton feels that Butler will make that decision some time within the next year, which is good because Britton is just now coming to terms with the enormous responsibilities required of the position.
Of the talents he will bring to the job, Britton feels the most significant is his skill at public speaking, a "gift of the Holy Spirit" he acquired as a very young child in his father's church. He is known as an effective, "fiery orator" by both people who love and hate him.
The religion he will preach is in some ways not very different from his early Pentecostalism. The Church of Jesus Christ Christian teaches that the Last Days are at hand, that Jesus is soon to return, that there is little time left to prepare for the Second Coming. Like Pentecostals, Britton believes that salvation can be as easily lost as found. But to Britton, the "apex of sin is race mixing" and the Second Coming, heralded by a racial apocalypse, will be a time when race traitors, and Jews, and "mud people," and all the others who have thwarted, denied, or undermined the true Christian message will get what's coming to them.
Until then, Britton hopes to make the Church of Jesus Christ Christian the "spearhead for the whole Identity movement."
"It may sound narrow," he says, "but I firmly believe that the Church of Jesus Christ Christian is the only place where Christ can minister in this day. And I also believe that his appearance will be in our association."