Rudolph's mom shaped his views?

Ex-Phila. nun linked to hate groups 8, 2003
By Ron Goldwyn

Patricia Rudolph's Philadelphia convent days are far behind her as she wrestles with unwanted fame as the mom of an accused racist-killer.

Did hatred come with the mother's milk?

The 75-year-old mother of bomber suspect and longtime fugitive Eric Robert Rudolph is fending off charges that her fascination with white supremacists and other fringe movements helped shape her son's views.

"They think it was my influence over Eric, maybe, that caused all this," she told USA Today in an interview published Monday.

She called it "beyond comprehension" that her "intellectual" son, with whom she felt a special bond, could be responsible for the multiple bombings.

Eric Rudolph, captured Saturday after hiding out in western North Carolina woods for five years, is accused of bombings at the 1996 Olympics, a gay nightclub in Atlanta and an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Ala., killing two and wounding about 150 others.

Yesterday in Birmingham, Rudolph pleaded not guilty to charges that he bombed the Alabama clinic in 1998, killing an off-duty police officer and maiming a nurse. An Aug. 4 trial date was set.

Patricia Murphy Rudolph calls herself anti-government, as well as a pacifist and anarchist. She told USA Today that Eric was no bigot but that both she and her son admired "anyone who has pride in their race."

Little is known about the mother's roots beyond what Deborah Ruolph, her former daughter-in-law, told the Southern Poverty Law Center in a 2001 interview.

"Pat is from Philadelphia. Her maiden name was Murphy and she used to be a nun, but she didn't take her vows. She left the convent before her three years as a novice were up," Deborah Rudolph told the center's Web-posted Intelligence Report.

"She left and met [husband Robert Rudolph] and they started having kids. She is really an intelligent and sociable and artistic woman who probably got her education through the Catholic Church."

By that description, the young Patricia Murphy left Catholic religious life before she became a nun, probably in the 1950s.

Deborah Rudolph divorced Eric's older brother Joel in 1991.

She has been the primary source of information about the Rudolphs and their reclusive, survivalist and hate-soaked lifestyle in rural North Carolina.

She described Eric Rudolph as a doper-slacker who grew high-grade marijuana in the Carolina forests, smoked a lot, sold a lot more, and grooved, incongruously, on Cheech and Chong movies.

The Daily News was unable to contact Patricia Rudolph yesterday. She had driven from her Sarasota, Fla., home to Asheville, N.C., for her son's federal court arraignment Monday.

But she apparently arrived too late for the hearing, according to Eric Rudolph's court-appointed lawyer. Later, he was flown to Birmingham, Ala., to face his first trial in the abotion-clinic bombing .

"An anti-abortion crusader?" Patricia Rudolph said to USA Today about Eric. "He never even spoke to me about abortion. Never ever."

An Archdiocese of Philadelphia spokeswoman said it has no way to track down any convent or parish involvement of a Patricia Murphy from more than four decades ago. Several dozen religious orders of women train novices for religious life in the Philadelphia area.

By the 1970s, Patricia and Robert Rudolph were raising their five sons and a daughter in Homestead, Fla., south of Miami. And Robert was dying of melanoma, a form of cancer.

The family, already associating with white supremacists, blamed the U.S. government for barring them from the laetrile treatments that they felt could save Robert Rudolph.

They finally acquired the illegal drug from Mexico. But the Ru-dolph patriarch died in 1981.

Soon afterward, Patricia moved her brood to rural North Carolina, apparently to follow a Christian Identity zealot and an anti-government survivalist.

It was a neat and self-sufficient life in the woods, where Eric and his brothers worked as carpenters steeped in anti-government and racist philosophies.

He spent a few months at a Christian Identity-affiliated white supremacist compound in Missouri in the early 1980s, Dan Gayman, director of the Church of Israel in the southwest Missouri community of Schell City, told the Associated Press.

Gayman said the church had been trying to help Rudolph's mother, who showed up unexpectedly in a broken-down station wagon and without any money.

"Her car didn't look like it was going to make the trip so we thought we better see what we could do to help her," Gayman said.

Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, told the Daily News yesterday that the Christian Identity movement was one of the strong influences on the Rudolph family, although not the only one.

"Pat Rudolph, like her son, was a kind of searcher, looking for real meaning of life, trying on different theologies," Potok said.

He described Christian Identity as the anti-gay, anti-Semitic and anti-foreigner theology of the Aryan Nation crowd, discussed and practiced mostly in living rooms and a few tiny churches.

"Christian Identity is a heretical reading of the Bible, which says the Bible was written by God for the whtie race exclusively," Potok said.

The core belief, he said, is that Eve was seduced by the serpent and impregnated with Cain, who became the Satanic ancestor of the Jews.

It is white Europeans who are the true chosen people under this theology, he said.

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