The Ozark mountain region straddling Missouri and Arkansas has become a Mecca for far right religious groups seeking privacy, reports the Detroit News (May 28).
While the Pacific Northwest has long been thought to draw white supremacist and far-right religious groups, the Ozarks’ isolation, Bible belt identity, and relative freedom from law enforcement appeals to these groups. One such group in the news was the Our Savior’s Church, an anti-Semitic congregation in Gainesville, Mo., whose pastor Gordon Winrod was charged with kidnapping his grandchildren, believing their fathers were Jewish.
Both Springfield and Branson, Missouri have seen national and regional white supremacy conventions in the last year. Last February, some 225 people gathered in Branson for the third annual convention of the Identity group, Songs for His People. Devin Burghart of a Chicago-based Identity watchdog group says the Bible belt location draws these groups.
“These guys come strolling along singing songs and holding Bibles, which allow them a certain degree of legitimacy in the area.”