Guest column by a former member/resident of the Church of Israel
Dan Gayman misrepresents his relationship with Eric Rudolph and lies to the media about the length of time Eric spent on church grounds, and the relationships that Eric forged there.
Dan Gayman is the leader of the Church of Israel.
Gayman claims Pat Rudolph and her sons Eric and James just showed up uninvited at his church. And that she was a “destitute widow” he helped out.
However, Mrs. Rudolph and her children were invited by Dan Gayman to attend the Church of Israel “Tabernacles Celebration” in1984 and given specific directions to the remote compound, located five miles outside the small town of Schell City, Missouri.
Pat and her sons didn’t just happen upon to compound accidentally, as Dan has said in the past.
The Church of Israel is actually difficult to find and many people get lost on their first visit.
When Eric Robert Rudolph arrived at the church with his mother he was barely 18. His father, Robert had recently died of skin cancer in Florida and Eric seemed to want a father figure in his life.
The Rudolphs once followed the teachings of Nord Davis, another Christian Identity leader in North Carolina. They knew about Dan Gayman through his teaching tapes, which Mrs. Rudolph ordered through the mail. She felt that her family had finally found the “one true religion.”
Pat’s background and “credentials” were certainly checked before she was allowed onto the church property and given a place to stay.
Although Pat Rudolph was a widow, her brother was helping to support the family. She was not completely “destitute.”
In early November 1984, Dan Gayman instructed my husband and I to take the Rudolph family into our home for the winter months. We were then a young couple just starting out and the Rudolph family seemed nice so we readily agreed.
When Pat and her family stayed at our home she was diligent when it was her turn to buy groceries and she paid Dan for our house electric bill.
Eric Rudolph seemed to feel that he had found a father figure in Dan Gayman.
During Eric’s stay he spent many hours alone with Dan discussing politics, religion and philosophy. He dated one of the Gayman’s daughters and Dan appeared pleased about this.
Eric was interested in far-right politics and read “Imperium.” He also read “Mien Kamph,” by Adolph Hitler and was a fan of Neitze.
Regarding his long discussions with Dan, I never once heard Eric mention that Dan disapproved of his reading choices. And Dan seemed to enjoy their lengthy discussions.
After a while, Gayman even asked Eric to read the Morning Prayer in church on Sunday mornings.
The Rudolph family, which included Eric, Pat and Jamie, lived within the Church of Israel compound for several months.
Eric was a good-looking boy and he was a hit among the teenage girls who attended the church. And Dan was very excited to have Eric dating his daughter and welcomed him into his home on a regular basis.
But Eric didn’t enjoy the long boring winter in Missouri with so little to do. He also grew tired of Dan’s daughter, even though she was beginning to get serious. Eric said that she was “just too dominant” for him.
Eric Rudolph eventually left and went back to North Carolina in early 1985.
But he returned in the spring to help Pat and Jamie make the trip back to Topton, North Carolina. It was then that Eric made Dan and his daughter furious by falling in love with a pretty 18-year-old girl, who had come to attend the Feast of Pentecost with her father and grandparents.
When Dan and Eric parted company in the spring of 1985, they weren’t on good terms. When asked to perform Morning Prayer for the last time, Eric used the word “Lord” instead of “Yahweh” or “Christ.”
The Church of Israel doctrine maintained that using “Lord” in reference to God was something like blasphemy. Dan specifically said the word “Lord” was “Baal worship.” But I suspect it was really just another control issue for him, like everything else.
Dan had his right hand man at the time, write a letter to Eric and Pat castigating Eric and demanding that he repent and publicly apologize to Dan, or not come back.
However, it appeared that Eric and Dan did make up, because Eric later attended Pentecost for one day the following spring.
I distinctly remember Eric striding up to Dan after a service in the small chapel on the hill. Dan embraced Eric Rudolph and they shook hands. Gayman appeared happy to see him.
Eric also attended one night a year later, during a Tabernacles celebration. He came in late. My eldest son was just a baby then and I was busy with him, so I only could speak briefly with Eric after the sermon.
I don’t know what will happen to Eric Rudolph. Perhaps he will get the death penalty. He certainly deserves to pay for his crimes if proven guilty.
What bothers me is that so many people don’t understand how dangerous leaders like Dan Gayman are.
The Christian Identity movement promotes a distrust of government officials, hatred of Jewish people and intolerance for any sort of meaningful interracial co-habitation.
Dan Gayman has much to lose if his connection to Eric Rudolph is fully understood. He is busy cultivating an upper-middle class, white-collar following now. Gayman wants to secure his little kingdom for his children and grandchildren.
Dan Gayman directly controls thousands of acres of property in Vernon County, Missouri and his reported income in donations alone over the past 5 years was almost $1 million. He and all his children live in comfortable country homes within the Church of Israel compound.
Dan doesn’t want to have the attention of the Federal Government. And he refuses to take any responsibility for the philosophy of Eric Rudolph, which apparently led to the horrible bombings that killed several people.
Unwanted attention and public scrutiny might just cause some of Dan’s regular attendees to drop out and others to seek a group or cause that is less likely to attract critical media attention.
At age 66, Gayman is willing to lie to the public about what he has taught and/or teaches. He wants to depict his church as just a benign little country congregation that supposedly adheres to fundamentalist Christianity.
Dan is so concerned about preserving the assets he has accumulated over the years; he is willing to go underground with his beliefs.
However, I lived at the Church of Israel compound in the 1980’s and know firsthand about its political and religious teachings. I know how Dan Gayman views race, abortion, homosexuality and AIDS.
Dan has been preaching a message of hatred for over 30 years. And his “Two Seeds of Genesis 3:15″ is famous amongst Identity circles.” He taught us that salvation is only for white people of Anglo-Saxon, Germanic and Scandinavian racial background and that the Jews, far from being “God’s chosen people,” were instead “The Seed of Satan.”
Dan taught us that African American’s do not have souls and for this reason, cannot “inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.”
When my family lived within the Church of Israel compound Dan told us that we had to be willing to die for our faith.
But now because he is in the uncomfortable position of having an Eric Rudolph connection he publicly misrepresents, minimizes and/or outright lies about what he teaches and has taught at the Church of Israel.
After spending his life promoting a doctrine of hatred Dan Gayman now wants to distance himself from Eric Robert Rudolph and even falsely claim that he barely knew him.
Gayman refuses to take responsibility for his influence and the effect he has had on other people’s lives.
However, when a charismatic dominant leader like Dan Gayman preaches such a strong message of hate there are often tragic consequences.
A message of hate influenced Timothy McVeigh and led to the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building.
The teachings of Christian Identity ministers have had far-reaching and devastating effects. The Church of Israel alone has influenced thousands of people.
Thankfully we left that influence years ago and we pray for the victims of the y movement and hope for justice.
We also hold the leaders of this movement personally accountable for the ideology of hate, exclusion and intolerance, which they promote.