Normally a "Pastors Conference" in Alabama wouldn't attract a lot of interest or attention, but a recent conference was also advertised as being "whites only" because it was organized by a Christian Identity church. That generated complaints...
KKK Venerating a Cross
Photo: Paul Souders / Stone / Getty
People in the town were upset when flyers advertising the conference started appearing. I wonder what upset them more: the naked racism of the event, or the uncomfortable reminder that not so long ago, this sort of racism was standard and normal for American Christianity?
Or maybe it's the reminder that not much has changed over the years. If the town's churches are like most churches in the South and indeed in America generally, then they are not very integrated, if at all. If the churches are already effectively segregated, there's little basis for objecting to one more "whites only" religious meeting.
According to the flier, the three-day conference ends with a "Sacred Christian Cross Lighting Ceremony." The conference is to be held in neighboring Lamar County.
Winfield Mayor Wayne Silas says he and other folks in town are not pleased since this event is not representative of their community in any way.
"Business people are upset. The city is upset. The city of Winfield does not condone this," Silas said.
"It's surprising to see something like that in our town," Cantrell said. "I know it's been here in the past."
A conference that's for Christians only wouldn't attract so much criticism. I suspect that a conference for Baptists only wouldn't attract so much criticism, either. Why is "whites only" so much different?
Christian Identity Ministries Pastor William J. Collier insits that his group isn't about hate:
"We're seldom ever have been invited to black Muslim events and we never have been invited to NAACP events and we never have been invited to join Jewish synagogues events and stuff," Christian Identity Ministries Pastor William J. Collier explained.
"It has nothing whatsoever to do with any kind of racism or hate or anything like that," he added. "And anybody who would brand it as that would be a racist and a hater themselves, you know."
Collier insisted that the "Sacred Christian Cross Lighting Ceremony" to be held on final day of the event symbolized an "opposition to tyranny."
"We are not burning a cross, look at the word is says it says light a cross," Christian Identity Ministries Reverend Mel Lewis told WIAT. "If you light a light in your house do you burn down your house. We often use fire. Our ancient fathers said fire was a cleansing element. Even the Bible says the earth will be purified with fire what purer element can we use as a symbol of our worship."
Source: Crooks & Liars
Collier's basic position is that "the white race is God's chosen people." Is this really any different from someone claiming that the Jews are God's chosen people? Or that America is God's chosen nation? I don't see a large, substantive difference.