WHEN Baptist preacher Jesse Hursey told a crowd of Trumpites that, ‘first of all, I’m a Christian, second of all, I’m a Republican. And in that order,’ he was loudly applauded.
But now folk in the town of Elon, N Carolina, know something else about the Bynum Baptist Church pastor: he’s an out-an-out racist. And a liar.
After addressing a rally organised by the Young Republicans of Alamance County, Hursey, inset above, joined a convoy of vehicles. When he spotted Megan Squire, a computer science professor at Elon University, standing on a street corner holding a Black Lives Matter sign, he yelled “white power!” at her. Squire captured the moment on her cell phone and posted it to YouTube.
While Hursey wouldn’t answer a reporter’s questions about the incident – instead repeating “I deny any false allegations and condemn all forms of racism” — many people who attended the rally or the separately organised truck convoy posted photos and videos online that exposed Hursey’s lie.
T L Mann, chairman of the Youg Republicans group, said in a text message to The News & Observer that Hursey:
Has been immediately removed from our organization.
Mann wrote that he opposed racism, but did not respond to later inquiries by text message or phone call.
The News & Observer cross-referenced the audio in two videos to confirm it had not been altered or dubbed, compared multiple photographs and additional videos, including one captured by Squire’s husband, Anthony Crider, also an Elon professor.
In addition, the N&O spoke with several participants, speakers and members of the audience.
In a 22-minute phone interview with the N&O, Hursey agreed to provide contact information for people who would vouch for him, but he never followed up.
He would not answer direct questions about his actions during the parade. His social media accounts, along with the online presence of Bynum Baptist Church, where he’s a pastor, have gone dark.
Hursey said that he did not have a formal role in the Young Republicans organisation nor in his family’s barbecue business, Hursey’s Bar-B-Q, which has several restaurants in Alamance County.
Chuck Hursey, Jesse Hursey’s father, emphasised that his business had nothing to do with the rally or subsequent truck convoy. He told the N&O that his son does not work for any of the restaurants, but he doubted his son was the person recorded yelling “white power!”
Some local politicians who participated in the rally, including Lee Haywood, a candidate for US Congress in the 6th District, and John Paisley, a candidate for county commissioner, told the N&O they did not condone racism or slogans like “white power.”
Others who didn’t attend the rally, including Amy Galey, the chair of the County Commissioners, and Steve Ross, a state representative, shared similar sentiments. Many said they regretted that an otherwise positive event was marred by offensive behaviour in the parade.
Bynum Baptist Church is an independent church and not affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, said Milton A Hollifield Jr, Executive Director and treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.