From reading the young man’s “manifesto” it’s clear that neither his church nor his parents are to blame. In the FAQ portion of his letter he asks, “Did your family cause you to think this way?” and answers, “Unfortunately, no. I had to learn what they should have taught me from the beginning.” Earnest seems to have been largely shaped by the same online culture as the terrorist-troll that targeted the mosques in New Zealand.
“To our great shame, he is now part of the history of evil that has been perpetrated on Jewish people for centuries,” said the parents of John T. Earnest. “Our son’s actions were informed by people we do not know, and ideas we do not hold.”
Earnest is the 19-year-old man charged with opening fire at a San Diego-area synagogue on Saturday, the last day of Passover, killing one woman and injuring three others. According to news reports, a person identifying himself as John Earnest posted an anti-Semitic open letter suggesting he had planned Saturday’s shooting and referenced the murderous attacks on mosques in New Zealand last month and at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue last October.
Earnest attended services at the Escondido Orthodox Presbyterian Church, where his father is an elder. On Sunday the pastor called the crime “unspeakable in so many ways” and said, “We are surprised and we are shocked.”
From reading the young man’s “manifesto” it’s clear that neither his church nor his parents are to blame. In the FAQ portion of his letter he asks, “Did your family cause you to think this way?” and answers, “Unfortunately, no. I had to learn what they should have taught me from the beginning.” Earnest seems to have been largely shaped by the same online culture as the terrorist-troll that targeted the mosques in New Zealand. Yet he also quotes Scripture and lists his influences as “Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Martin Luther, Adolf Hitler, [two white nationalist terrorists….”
What distinguishes Earnest from the other white nationalist murderers is that he seems to have been influenced by the racialist heresy known as kinism.
Kinism Comes to a Pew Near You
Several years ago a friend of mine, a Presbyterian minister, asked me to speak to his congregation about cultural issues. During the discussion, an older couple asked me a question about separation of ethnic groups, specifically white Americans from blacks and Jews. I told them I must have misunderstood their question, because what they were talking about could be mistaken for promoting a view called kinism. The wife replied, “And what’s wrong with kinism?”*
To explain what’s wrong with kinism we first need to understand what the term means. Defining the term is difficult, because it is applied to a broad range of ideas centered on a white separatist interpretation of Christianity. The anti-kinist theonomist John Reasnor says:
At its core, kinism is the belief that God specially ordained “races” and that he intends for us to preserve that division to one degree or another. Kinism believes that God ethically and specially ordained the nations and “races.” In short, kinism is a doctrinal conviction of anti-miscegenation. All positions commonly held by kinists flow from this key kinist doctrine.
The term “kinism,” as a self-applied label, appears to have arisen around 2004 to be a “third way” for Christians between racism and anti-racism. Several kinist websites sprung up in the mid-2000s, and their ideas spread quite rapidly as they engaged and fought with Reformed bloggers.
The term—which comes from the word “kin,” such as “kith and kin”—may be of relatively recent vintage, but the beliefs and principles of kinism are ancient. As one kinist website claims, “The same continuum of concept has alternately been called familism, tribal theocracy, theonomic nationalism, or simply, traditional Christianity.” Kinists are obsessed with preserving the “European race” and their twisted form of Calvinism against those who would threaten it—usually African Americans or Jews.
* On hearing about this exchange, the pastor confronted the couple and told them they’d be subject to church discipline if they did not renounce their racist views. Not surprisingly, they left congregation. I wish more pastors
had the courage of my Presbyterian friend.