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The Ku Klux Klan and Its Ideologies

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The Ku Klux Klan and Its Ideologies Essay

Since the inception of the first Klan in 1865, the Ku Klux Klan rooted its values in their perception of Christianity. In one instance, we see people like Sam Bowers who was a supposed Methodist, yet was one of the more powerful voices in reviving the Klan during the 60’s. After going underground during the 1920s, Bowers was a leader in Mississippi, named the Grand Wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He often used his religion as a point of reference for the morality of what he was doing, even though he often contradicted himself and the Bible. Along with him, we have someone like Richard K. Tucker who identifies what made the early 20th century reemergence of the Ku Klux Klan so successful and why it could very well happen again. Tucker goes on to describe the similarities between Klan values and modern Christian values, as well as comparisons with the average American values. Even today, when we look at the official website of the American Christian Dixie Knights we can see that they so commonly reference God and his “chosen people” as their reasoning for their crooked beliefs. These comparisons are not coincidences, and the more we look into the core values of the Klan and what they have interpreted through the Methodist church it becomes apparent that they do not simply make the choice to be morally corrupt people, but their understanding of God and his message was allowed them to act the way they do.

The Ku Klux Klan in the beginning, as described by Richard K. Tucker in The Dragon and the Cross, looks different from the white robes people imagine today. The Klansman’s main enemy was Jewish and Catholic Americans, or those they saw as a threat to what their idea of a good Christian American was. Racism against African Americans played a part in the 1920’s, but it was not the main part. Tucker wrote, “it was to its millions of joiners and supporters across America a far cry from the paranoid racist violence so often associated with the robed, redneck fringe calling itself the Klan today” (Tucker). He mentioned Christianty had more of an effect on the Klan’s success than white supremacy at the time. “Every responsible source, including those who actively fought the Klan, has agreed that the Invisible Empire was made up largely of people of substantial and decent standing, most of them active members of Protestant churches, with definite if somewhat narrow ideals” (Tucker). At this time the Klan got its strength from numbers. Before his arrest in 1925 David Curtis Stephenson was Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan and the most powerful man in Indiana. He was the reason many Klansmen held power in the state and had a huge influence, there were around a quarter million members in Indiana alone. Ultimately Stephenson’s arrest played a large part in the Klan’s downfall at the time. Stephenson went from an idol to rapist and murderer, and politicians he had backed had to run from public scrutiny.

Although Tucker’s book was enlightening when comparing common Christian values and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in the early 20th century, his book was published in 1991 and does not account for the more current standings of the American Christian Dixie Knights. In particular, their current website talks quite in depth about their origins, values as Knights, and what their supposed purpose in modern America is. First, they begin to speak on what makes them superior, stating “We as Caucasians are in fact God’s chosen race. It was not long ago this fact was widely known and accepted” (ACDK). This misinterpretation of the Christian word that there is one superior race is a fundamental reason for the existence of all generations of the Ku Klux Klan. This is also cited in Tucker’s reading as well as Samuel Bower’s own “Imperial Executive Orders.” Next, they talk about the need to re-segregate our nation because, “Forced integration was and is still pushed on us on a daily basis and was and is NOT WANTED by the Whites OR the blacks” (ACDK). Their faith drives them to think that because God has his chosen people, that means pride in any other race is a sin. When reading through their website, it seems as though that they are more fearful for their demise than ever before, whereas in 19th century clan history there is a sort of pride associated with their morals. They go on to talk about the “anti-white” movements that have been prevalent today and that white people will no longer exist by 2050, but the basis of their order comes from their Christian beliefs. Once again, these similarities and roots within Methodists beliefs are intertwined and not simple coincidences. Even in modern day America with what is left of the dying Ku Klux Klan, they still use their faith as the purpose of their existence.

Sam Bowers is partially to blame for the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1960’s. He co-founded the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and even became the Imperial Knight. Bowers Identified as Christian, specifically Methodist, with a substantial conversion confrontation. He had wanted to die, but claimed God Called him to create chaos and destruction, similar to narratives of prodestant Christians and being born again. He believed in operating in silence and chaos as it was the only way for his cult to survive, unlike the Klan in the 1920’s. Bowers used his power to attack secretly and directed his frustration to POC and planned many attacks during the night as though to not be seen. He was adamantly against the Civil Rights Movement and the rehabilitation it would offer other individuals. In 1964 several Civil Rights Activists were murdered and in 1967 he was found guilty, he served six years in prison before being found guilty again in 1998 and getting sentenced to life. His actions transpired from a simple “message from God” and it seems that many Methodist believers who have had similar experiences came together to promote evil.

When looking at some of the larger rises of the Ku Klux Klan in American history, we see a major similarity: they all believe in God and his calling for Klan leaders to spew hatred and evil into the world against their “enemies.” While some more modern Klans may believe in re-segregating to protect the white supremacy they once knew, others like Sam Bowers claim that God called upon him in a time of need in order to save his life through violence and frustration. And Richard K. Tucker found that the correlation between Klans and the Christian faith shows a strong correlation between the radical enlightenment these people claim to go through and the excuses they make for their prophetic rise to power. These significant points in the Ku Klux Klan timeline offer more questions than answers, it seems. What is it about faith in one’s religion that allows a single man to do much good but can also cause such anguish and disparity between people? Are these people truly called upon by God to promote terror, or is it simply for the purpose of justifying what is so clearly wrong? These questions may be unanswered for a lifetime to come, but what is certain is the strong ties the Ku Klux Klan’s history has with Christian values and readings.

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