John Birch Society

John Birch Society (JBS)


The John Birch Society (JBS) was founded in December of 1958 by businessman Robert Welch. It now describes itself as an “education and action organization” that “has never deviated from its opposition to communism and any other form of totalitarianism, certainly including the steady drift toward total government currently arising from within our own shores.” The JBS has been described as a radical right organization. [1], [2], [3]

The philosophy of the group was outlined in The Blue Book of the John Birch Society, which contained the thoughts of Welch and 12 other “patriotic and public-spirited men.” The society grew quickly, and claimed to have more than 100,000 members by 1961, publishing through their magazine American Opinion. Membership dropped after Welch died in 1985, although JBS has experienced a more recent revival with Donald Trump’s run for president. [4], [80]

The John Birch Society was named after an American intelligence officer killed 10 days after World War II, a man Birch Society founder Robert H. W. Welch Jr. thought to be the ”first casualty” of the Cold War. Citing what he described as an “accumulation of evidence,” Welch claimed that President Eisenhower was ”a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy.” [5]

The John Birch Society currently describes its mission as “To bring about less government, more responsibility, and — with God’s help — a better world by providing leadership, education, and organized volunteer action in accordance with moral and Constitutional principles.” [6]

According to Politico Magazine, The John Birch Society began experiencing a resurgence in 2017.[7]

There definitely is an increase in [our] activity, particularly in Texas, because Americans are seeking answers, but they can’t quite put their finger on what some of the real problems are,” Bill Hahn, the John Birch Society’s vice president of communications, told Politico Magazine. [7]

Politico Magazine reported on “what the 21-st century John Birch Society looks like,” outlining the group’s new goals including pulling the U.S, out of NAFTA, returning America to its Christian foundations, defunding the United Nations, abolishing the departments of education and energy, and drastically cutting the federal budget. [7]

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), among others, has reported that the JBS has long been faced by charges of racism and anti-Semitism: [8]

“It opposed civil rights legislation in the 1960s, saying the African-American freedom movement was being manipulated from Moscow with the goal of creating a ‘Soviet Negro Republic’ in the Southern United States. The society was a close ally of Alabama’s segregationist governor George Wallace and reportedly had 100 chapters in and around Birmingham, Alabama’s largest city, as well as chapters across the rest of the state. Thompson, the group’s CEO, said the society has never been either racist or anti-Semitic, going so far as to add that once a member is discovered to harbor such views he or she is immediately ‘booted out,’ “SPLC wrote of the John Birch Society. [8]

It’s a fallacy to say that we ever went into hibernation,” Thompson said in the interview with the SPLC‘s Intelligence Report. “We’ve always been active. We’ve always influenced the conservative movement. We just don’t bang the drum and wave the flag about everything we do.’’ [8]

“Mr. McManus is also heard to say that militant Jews have influenced the Freemasons, who are ‘Satan’s agents,’ ‘the enemies of Christ Church’ — and, in the view of the John Birch Society, part of the Illuminati conspiracy to cause world upheaval,” The New York Times reported. [9]

In February of 1962, Bill Buckley at National Review, which generally thought itself to be “the conscience of the conservative movement,” wrote critical articles about the JBS. According to some sources, these articles were what eventually led the JBS to be shunned by the mainstream conservative movement. In 1963, Buckley wrote that Robet Welch was “damaging the cause of anticommunism” because “he persists in distorting reality and refuses to make the crucial moral and political distinction between an active pro-Communist and an ineffectually anticommunist Liberal.” [35][10] 

Notable members of the John Birch Society have included its co-founder, Fred Koch, as well as Fred’s son Charles Koch. Harry Bradley, whose Bradley Foundation “doled out nearly as much money as the seven Koch and Scaife foundations combined” between 2001 and 2009, was also one of the founding members of the JBS. [11], [12]

Koch Ties

Fred Koch, father to Charles and David Koch, was a well-known leader of the John Birch Society. Charles Koch himself “was an active member of the controversial right-wing John Birch Society during its active campaigns against the civil rights movement,” The Progressive reported in 2014. Charles left the organization in 1968, the year after his father’s death. [13]

“Charles Koch was not simply a rank and file member of the John Birch Society in name only who paid nominal dues,” The Progressive reported. “He purchased and held a ‘lifetime membership’ until he resigned in 1968. He also lent his name and his wealth to the operations of the John Birch Society in Wichita, aiding its ‘American Opinion’ bookstore – which was stocked with attacks on the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, and Earl Warren as elements of the communist conspiracy. He funded the John Birch Society’s promotional campaigns, bought advertising in its magazine, and supported its distribution of right-wing radio shows.” [13]

In 2014, one of the Koch’s secretive donor retreats featured a dinner talk by Charles Murray, the white supremacist author of the widely-debunked and notoriously racist book, The Bell Curve. [14]

Charles Koch later resigned from the group in 1968, according to correspondence with Robert Welch. PR Watch reported: “Oddly, it was Welch’s “Win the War” strategy of signing up people to support the Vietnam War that caused the breakup between Charles Koch and the John Birch Society.” [77]

Conspiracy Theories

Shortly before Ronald Reagan was elected president, John McManus—at the time public relations director of the JBS, and its future president—claimed that Reagan was a “lackey” of Communist conspirators. [8]

We’re up against a conspiracy,” McManus told the Birch birthday bash in Sacramento. “People say, ‘You sound like a conspiracy theorist.’ I say, ‘No, no, no. I’m a conspiracy fact-ist.” [8]

During a banquet speech, McManus described how the JBS had been “marginalized” by key right-wing leaders for its conspiracy theories: [8]

The John Birch Society has been aced out of a direct role because they are a political third rail of conservatives and the right wing,” Berlet said. “They have been marginalized by the leadership of the right because of their conspiracy theories. But a lot of the right wing of the Republican Party was and is highly influenced by the John Birch Society. Step one in understanding the Birchers is that they are not that much more far out, compared to other people on the right,” McManus said. [8]

Philosopher Ayn Rand ones said in Playboy interview: [15], [16]

“I consider the Birch Society futile, because they are not for capitalism but merely against communism […] I gather they believe that the disastrous state of today’s world is caused by a communist conspiracy. This is childishly naïve and superficial. No country can be destroyed by a mere conspiracy, it can be destroyed only by ideas.” [15]

White Supremacist Members

Several historical members of the John Birch Society went on to found or join White Sepremacist groups. For example, Robert Jay Mathews (1953 – 1984), founder of The Order, was a member of the JBS since age 11. David Lane, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “one of the most important ideologues of contemporary white supremacy,” was also briefly a member of the John Birch Society before joining the Ku Klux Klan and also The Order. [17], [18]

JBS member Tom Metzger, who once ran the controversial program “Race and Reason,” went on to direct the White Aryan Resistance. His organization published WAR, a publication calling itself ”The Newspaper of the International White Racist.” [19]

William Luther Pierce, who would go on to found the National Alliance, was briefly a member of the JBS. [20]

Thomas Robb, who would go on to be a national director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was a member of the John Birch Society in high school. [21]

Stance on Climate Change

The New American, published by “A wholly owned subsidiary of The John Birch Society,” regularly questions the consensus around climate change science and frequently refers to “Climate Alarmism” or “Alarmists” in its headlines.

For example, in one June 2004 article, climate change deniers Arthur B. Robinson and Jane M. Orient wrote at The New American that “even when the Earth was much warmer than today, none of the predicted catastrophes of the supposed human-caused global warming occurred.” [22]

According to their article, the increase in temperature due to CO2 is a “fallacy.”

“Atmospheric CO2 is not a pollutant. It is the single most important chemical constituent of the cycles of plant and animal life,” they add. “CO2, by itself, is not a significant greenhouse gas, and there is no scientific evidence that it can raise global temperatures significantly.”

View the attached spreadsheet for a complete list of The New American publications filtered by top keywords (.xlsx). [23]

Below is a list of The New American articles that contain the term “Alarmist” or “Alarm” in the title:

Comments Surrounding 2021 Capitol Insurrection

One day after the failed Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, the John Birch Society wrote in a social media post, “Don’t give up. It’s always darkest before the dawn. We can fix this.”

On Jan. 6, 2021, the John Birch Society circulated a video from Project Veritas that it claimed “shows” that Democrats broke election laws in the 2020 election.

Before the insurrection, the John Birch Society had also posted claims that the 2020 election of Joe Biden was the result of “voter fraud.”

On Jan. 6, 2021, the John Birch Society posted a link to an article whose headline asked “Is MAGA’s Storming of the Capitol an Omen of Coming Civil War?”


According to its website, “The John Birch Society depends on the kindness and generosity of donors to maintain the health of our organization.” Details of its funding are not available online. [24]

JBS Research Documents

FBI Research Documents Via Internet Archive

Google Sites

The following documents are copies from research done at “Documentary History of the John Birch Society.” [25]

Key People

According to a 1966 Time magazine article, The John Birch Society had “a staff of 250—more than that of the Republican and Democratic national committees combined—at its Belmont, Mass., headquarters and at regional offices in New York, Chicago, Washington, Dallas and Los Angeles,” however most of its members’ names were kept secret. [26]

“Some 75 full-time field coordinators and 1,100 section leaders direct the society’s chapters throughout the U.S. And though John Rousselot, the former California Congressman who serves as the Birchers’ public relations director, admits that the growth in membership has slowed down, the society is still attracting new members. It officially claims a membership of just under 100,000, but some informed estimates place the figure as low as 32,000; the true figure is probably somewhere in between.” [26]

Notable & Historic Members



JBS listed a select list of members on its website:

Arthur CrinoYYYYYYYYY 
Arthur R. ThompsonYYYYYYYYYChief Executive Officer
Clark CurryYYYYYYYYYChairman of the Board
F. Ward RowleyYYYYYYYYY 
George WallaceYYYYYYYYY 
Glenn SchmitzYYYYYYYYY 
Paul LeithartYYYYYYYYY 
Ray ClarkYYYYYYYYYPresident
Thomas SellersYYYYYYYYY 
William BlewsterYYYYYYYYY 
Lloyd Bailey YYYYYYYY 
Robert Owens YYYYYYYY 
Ronald Britton YYYYYYYY 
Sterling Lacy YYYYYYYY 
Robert Henderson  YYYYYYY 
David B. Jorgensen   YYYYYY 
Donald R. Griffin   YYYYYY 
Darr Moon    YYYYY 
Deborah Pauly     YYYY 
Hillard Welch YYYYY YY 
Andy Dlinn       YY 
Duke Pesta       YY 
Tom DeWeese       YY 
Kurt Hyde        Y 
Lori Watt        Y 
James F. Fitzgerald YYYYYYY National Director-Field Activities
Martin Ohlson  YYYYYY Vice President, Development
Bill Hahn       Y Vice President, Communications
David EisenbergYYYYYYY   
Dominick J. OdorizziYYYYYYY   
Larry O. WatersYYYYYY   Vice President
Nathaniel E. AdamsonYYYYYY    
Nelson Bunker HuntYYYYYY    
Daniel L. McBrideYYYY      
Clifford WasemYY        


June 12, 2017

While, as Politico Magazine reported, The JBS originally formed over the idea of Soviet infiltration of the U.S. government, it now wants to stop the investigation into potential meddling in the 2016 election by Russia. [7J

“[T]hese are distractions hiding more pressing problems, such as the renegotiation of NAFTA, the future of healthcare, and the outrageous and unacceptable national debt. Lining up one by one, the masses are acting just like sheep, allowing the media to pit them in a Left vs. Right battle (instead of tyranny vs. liberty),” a John Birch Society article reads. [67]

April 13, 2016

John Birch Society’s Liberty News Network was on-site at the Heartland Institute’s 4th International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC4). [68]

Liberty News Network also interviewed climate change denier Willie Soon at the event. Video below: [69]

Interview with Willie Soon, Ph.d. – Heartland Institute Climate Conference 2010 from The John Birch Society on Vimeo.

December 10, 2015

JBS‘s publication, The New American, was in Paris during the UN climate talks and interviewed climate change denier Marc Morano about his film, Climate Hustle. The New American described Morano’s film as “exposing global-warming alarmism”. See their video below. [70], [71]

September – December, 2011

As the SPLC reported, The John Birch Society had either sponsored or co-sponsored a range of lectures on the “dangers” of Agenda 21 in Manahawkin, Somers Point, Williamstown, Pompton Plains, and Toms River, N.J.; in Bozeman, Great Falls, Kalispell, and Missoula, Mont.; in Indianapolis, Ind.; in Albany and Queens, N.Y.; in Deland, Jacksonville and Gainesville, Fla.; in Mobile, Ala.; and in Shelton and Westport, Con. [72]

In one speech, Regional Field Director Hal Shurtlef described Agenda 21 as “a profound reorientation of all human society, unlike anything the world has ever experienced.” He claimed that is goal was. He claimed that the goal was to de-populate rural areas, and enforce mandated family sizes. [72]

Patriots, Tea Partiers, and John Birchers hate pollution,” Shurtlef said at the Westport speech. “But we know that the free market and local governments can preserve the environment better than bureaucrats can.” [72]


In 2010, the society was a co-sponsor of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) noted. [8]

January 23, 2008

One John Birch Society blogger described the risks of global warming as “baseless and undisguised propaganda,” and also claimed that evidence for climate change is “shoddy.” She cited climate change denier Bjorn Lomborg‘s (thoroughly discredited) analysis, “a little warming wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all.” [73]

DeSmog reported that the logic for her argument could be traced back to Marc Morano. “This is classic ‘Echo Chamber’ PR: you start with a lie; you pass the lie around; and after you repeat it enough times, it starts to sound like the truth,” Richard Littlemore wrote at DeSmog. [74]

January 31, 2000

John F. McManus interviewed climate change denier Fred Singer in an issue of The New American. Sample below: [75]

McManus: “Do you have a position regarding global warming?”

Singer: “I certainly do. The climate warms and cools naturally all the time. It changes from day to day, month to month, season to season, year to year, and so on. At times, there is global warming; at other times there is global cooling. Some climate changes are predictable and some are not. We can predict that the winters are colder than the summers because we understand the mechanism. We cannot predict the climate from year to year, however, because we do not know why it fluctuates. When the climate warms, there could be a number of reasons for it doing so, including the sun. Another possibility is that human activities are adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, and this could produce some warming.

The important question then is: How important is the effect of human activities? And that we cannot tell. We know the theory, which says that human activity could be important, but the theory cannot be trusted until it has been verified. Until now, this theory, which is based largely on a mathematical model, has not been validated against observations. If the theory becomes validated against observations, then we can be more confident about using it to predict the future. But we’re not there yet, and nobody should be basing conclusions and remedies on an unverified theory.”

March 9, 1974

Robert Welch gave two speeches at the JBS Council Dinner in 1974. Below is a video compilation of the speeches via YouTube: [76]


Charles Koch reportedly worked with the John Birch Society to combat the civil rights movement in the 1960s. The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reported how Charles Koch fundraised for the John Birch Society at the height of its attacks on the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, and offers a detailed timeline of Koch’s involvement in JBS campaigns. [77]

In 1963, the JBS claimed that a “detailed study of ‘the life and lies’ of Martin Luther King […] will convince any reasonable American that this man is not working for, but against, the real welfare and best interests of either the Negroes in the United States, or of the United States as a whole.” [77]

CMD reported that, among other things, Charles Koch helped promote the John Birch Society bookstore in Whichita, which was managed by Bob Love. The store sold titles and pamphlets such as Earl Lively’s “The Invasion of Mississippi,” which claims the racial integration of Ole Miss was unlawful. Other titles included Robert Welch’s pamphlet, “A Letter to the South on Segregation” and a piece titled “Is the Supreme Court Pro-Communist.” [77]


Charles Koch joined the John Birch Society. During this year, JBS announced that a top priority would be its “Movement to Impeach Earl Warren,” the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court appointed by President Eisenhower. [13]

A core JBS document was titled “A Letter to the South on Segregation.” It was a letter initially written by Welch in 1956, prior to the founding of JBS, that claimed the “easy-going colored man” of the South will be “easily misled by agitators” and that “civil rights” was actually a communist slogan. [13]

The Society also promoted several books in favor of segregation in public schools, and went on to set up book stores “manned … by local members of our organization” promoted books approved by the society. [13]

June 29, 1959

According to archived documents, a John Birch Society project titled CASE (Committee Against Summit Entanglements) included support from a range of prominent conservatives. CASE opposed President Eisenhower’s proposal for a summit meeting with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. Many of these supporters would go on to reject the JBS in the future.  [25]

Below are key representatives of CASE:


Vice Chairmen 

  • Charles Edison
  • Alfred Kohlberg
  • Clarence Manion 

Executive Committee

  • Thomas J. Anderson
  • Spruille Braden
  • Owen Brewater
  • Robert B. Dresser
  • E.P Hamilton
  • A. G. Heinsohn
  • Jr., Samuel B. Pettengill
  • Archibald Roosevelt
  • Robert W. Stoddard
  • A.C. Wedemeyer

National Board

  • T. Coleman Andrews
  • George W. Armstrong, Jr .
  • John U. Barr
  • Laurence E. Bunker
  • H . G. Carpenter
  • F. Gano Chance
  • Kenneth W. Colegrove
  • Martin J. Condon, III
  • W. J. Bryan Dorn
  • Pierre S. du Pont, 3rd
  • Franklin Farrel, Jr.
  • Dorothy B. Frankston
  • J. H . Gipson, Sr.
  • Wm. J. Grede
  • A. Brooks Harlow
  • B. E. Hutchinson
  • Husband E. Kimmel
  • Fred C. Koch
  • Rose Wilder Lane
  • J. Bracken Lee
  • F. F. Loock
  • Ross Martin
  • Frank E. Masland, Jr.
  • N . Floyd McGowin
  • W. L. McGrath
  • Ludwig von Mises
  • Revilo P. Oliver
  • J. Howard Pew
  • Henry Pope, Jr.
  • Paulus P. Powell
  • Louis Ruthenburg
  • Gordon H . Scherer
  • T. G. W. Settle
  • Wint Smith
  • Robert B. Snowden 
  • Suzanne Silvercruys Stevenson
  • George H. Williamson 


Fred Koch, father of Charles and David Koch, attended the initial meeting of right-wing businessmen who proposed the creation of the John Birch Society. Its goal would be to fight against communism in the U.S. Fred would join the Executive Committee which would plan the Society’s strategy. [13]

Contact & Address

As of August, 2017, JBS listed the following contact information on its website: [79]

Address: 770 N. Westhill Blvd. Appleton, WI 54914
Phone: 800-JBSUSA1
Local: 920-749-3780
Fax: 920-749-5062

Social Media


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