Terrorists, Klansmen, and Claims of Religion

Last year, Frank Ancona, the Ku Klux Klan’s Imperial Wizard, told NBC 12 in Virginia, “We don’t hate people because of their race, I mean, we’re a Christian organization.”

While that may appear to many as absurdity run amok, Ancona’s statement begs the question: What constitutes “a Christian organization”? Does one simply need to declare oneself a Christian organization and it is made so? Are there certain precepts to which one must adhere?

The Klan experienced its largest membership between 1921-1925, with an estimated 4-5 million white men nationwide. It did not gain its popularity by overtly advertising lynchings, church bombings and cross burnings. Instead, Klan recruiters persuaded pastors by offering free membership and a leadership position within its local chapters.

With the blessings of the pastor, the Klan would recruit church members using the symbolic language of Christianity and so-called American values. They added a dose of fear by “othering” anyone who was not white and Protestant.

Does this qualify as a Christian organization?

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9 responses to “Terrorists, Klansmen, and Claims of Religion”

  1. This article presents great perspective regarding the way that people tend to, "place everyone in the same theological box comprised of our worst assumptions". I agree that many Americans could use a dose of enlightenment on this subject, and it is important to consider the questions of what constitutes a "Christian" or "Muslim"organization.

  2. I think the article brings some great points to light in a way that I had not thought about before. However, a couple thoughts I have on the difference is that Islam is in part a works-based type of faith. Therefore, these acts are being done in the name of their religion because they believe they will be rewarded by Allah for it. However, Christianity is not a works-based faith. When you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have been completely saved because of Jesus's work, not yours. Therefore, KKK acts can be separated from the name of Christianity. If they have been changed by the blood of Christ, then they understand that they can not work their way into his good graces, or be rewarded in some way for anything they do, much less these horribly sinful acts the KKK supports.

  3. I found this article to be quite enlightening in that it sheds light on several disparities that lie among the word’s inhabitants. I had never thought of it before, but why is it okay to dismiss the KKK’s claims of religion and not those of other detrimental organizations or groups? If we criticize other people for false claims of religion, we need to do the same here in our homeland. Drew also brings a good point to the conversation. As Christians, we do not have to commit certain acts because we think Jesus will reward us for doing so. We have already been blessed by His dying for our sins so that we may live for Him.

  4. This article was very stimulating for me because I had undergone this epiphany years ago. When an individual, or even a group of people, commits harm or murder upon innocent people, the fact remains that they are NOT Christian, Muslim, or any faith for that matter. No religion or faith that I can possibly think of consents to such heinous acts, and I refuse to consider any of them religious people. The reason Muslims have been ostracized is that the majority of Muslims reside in other parts of the world. On top of that, most of the so-called "Islamic terrorists" are nowhere near the United States. Therefore, the only "reasonable" information that American citizens can get regarding world news is through news on TV or on the internet. Such mass media is often skewed in order to manipulate the views/opinions of Americans into categorizing all Muslims as terrorists. Frankly, I don't blame Americans for fearing and shunning anyone who even looks as if they could be Muslim (such as me), but I would also like to say that it is unfair and hurtful. I was born in this country and have lived here my whole life; however, I have never felt welcome.

  5. “We don’t hate people because of their race, I mean, we’re a Christian organization.”

    This statement by Frank Ancona provides insight to what I would call, Cultural Christianity. Basically, how our culture sees the religion. Our culture has watered down Christianity to "good people who follow the rules and care about the poor." This is why Ancona is associating himself with Christianity, to connect himself and his organization to the ideals of the positive aspects of christianity. However, trying to associate the religion (along with its false cultural description grounded heavily in a "works-based faith") certainly does not make it Christian, we can clearly see that by the actions taken by the KKK. True Christian organizations are marked by individuals who are more focused on a relationship with the person of God and the fellowship of believers (aka other people, which immediately counts out the KKK), and not so heavily reliant on just "good behavior." That aspect is often an indicator of the faith, but not the main focus.

  6. This article was really fascinating. What struck me the most was when the author compared the disassociation of the KKK from Christianity to terrorist attacks and the Islamic faith. He states, "Why does not viewing the Klan as the embodiment of Christianity seem perfectly understandable, but not doing likewise with Islam can be too much of an intellectual stretch for some?"– and to be frank, I wholeheartedly agree with this question. So many people are quick to judge every member of the Islamic faith, simply due to a small sect of extremists. What if we did the same with Christians? The sad reality is that will never happen, which is extremely disheartening. We should not let a small faction influence our views about an entire group- it is wrong and ultimately hateful. If we can disassociate the KKK from Christianity then the same should be done for countless Muslims who have been subjected to hate simply due to extremists.

  7. This article presented an incredible and insightful thought experiment, and it was a prospective that I had honestly never hear before. I think these questions scare many Christians, and fill others with guilt or shame. The article is really also calling out not only Americans in general, but Christians for judging Muslims with the same lens that they judge terrorist.
    Additionally, while the principles of Christianity are correct above, there are still Christians who acts in ways that are hurtful to others in the name of God.

  8. This article makes a poignant claim with nods to the growing sentiments of "Islamphobia" across the Western world. Americans often forget the Christian roots that the KKK claimed and tend to regard them as a group of radical "white men" who shared the common bond racism. Much like radical Islamists, they felt that their actions were supported by Christianity by decontextualizing verses from the Bible (or Qur'an in the radical Islamist's case) that preached segregation, slavery, and violence. The problem that lies at the root of this phenomenon in U.S. History is the fact that no one was rushing to call Christianity "a violent religion"

  9. Jessica Johnson
    I agree with Hannah's comment above. Christian's need to take a pause before they judge other extremist groups and remember that there are Christian extremist groups that have killed people. The Lord's Resistance Army and Uganda led by Joseph Kony is killing people, abducting children, destroying villages, forcing children to become sex slaves or soldiers. They claim to be a Christian Organization. So what constitutes a christian organization?

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