Next, I used the UGH library website to look up books that pertain to the UK Klux Klan in Birmingham or the ideology of the ASK. With this basic information, I met James at the library and we decided who would talk about which events, since we both were doing the “evil” side of the research. While at the library, James and I discussed what each of us had researched thus far and I was able to check out one of his books that helped me more than it helped him. Also, I began to chase rabbit trails and go deeper into my research, such as how even Jews and Catholics were discriminated against by the ASK.
Before leaving the library, I checked out the books Religion and Terrorism by Reef AY-Chatter, Backfire by David Chalmers, and Gospel According to the Klan by Kelly J. Baker. I extracted some additional information from Religion and Terrorism and Backfire, though Gospel According to the Klan was not as beneficial to my research. From the information I had gathered thus far, I made a list of events that I could pick from for my key learning and tried to put some of the events into groups. After I grouped the events in my head, I wrote an outline, organizing the information and different events.
Don’t waste your time!
Order your assignment!
I then began writing my key learning, and as I wrote, I began to think of other things that I could add and found some new events (such as the attack on Nat King Cole) to add to my research and I cut other events out that did not fit as well. Finally, after I posted my key learning to my group’s Google Doc, James suggested that I add a verse that the ASK used to support their violence, so I searched through the modern ASK websites and found one to add. Key Learning: Until recent decades, the United States of America has had a history of extensive racial discrimination and prejudice.
One may wonder how a country based on Christianity morals could allow something as cruel and unfair as discrimination to go on for so many years. During the Civil Rights Era in Birmingham, Christians not only allowed discrimination to go on for many years, but some of the groups that were the most active in discrimination Justified their actions through Christianity. The most prominent of these groups is the UK Klux Klan (ASK). The ASK believes that the white race is superior to nonwhite races because white people are God’s “chosen people”.
They interpret verses such as Exodus 33:16 that says “so shall we be prepared: I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the Earth” to mean that integration of whites and nonwhites is immoral. Therefore, the UK it. Through my research, I discovered how the ASK opposed the Civil Rights movement specifically, how they discriminated against others generally, and how other Christian groups nonviolently practiced discrimination. Much of the UK Klux Clan’s activity during the Civil Rights Era attempted to negate the achievements of civil rights activists and tried to intimidate activists into giving up their cause.
For example, when Fred Southwestern organized a Birmingham bus Scott in December, 1956, the UK Klux Klan bombed his house five days later. The ASK used this bombing as a form of extortion and as a warning of the power that the white supremacists would use to prevent integration. 2 As the expounder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, pastor of a church active in civil rights, and as an organizer for several peaceful protests in Birmingham, Southwestern was a prime target for such acts of violence.
In September of 1963, the United Klan of America bombed Southwester’s church, 16th Street Baptist Church, killing four nouns girls and injuring several others. 3 Again the bombing was intended to threaten activists (such as Southwestern) into giving up on integration. On March 25, 1965, in an effort to prove that the ASK opposed anyone who supported civil rights, four members of the Birmingham ASK murdered Viola Luzon, who had participated in the Selma to Montgomery march and was driving a young African American man to the Montgomery airport. This act of violence was especially alarming because it was a white woman who was murdered, instead of an African American. With these three acts of violence, it is obvious that the UK Klux Klan strongly opposed the civil rights movement, but as I continued my research, I determined that the ASK also practiced violence on innocent bystanders of the civil rights movement. The UK Klux Klan was not only opposed to the civil rights movement, but its members’ white supremacy and single-mindedness caused them to hate anyone unlike themselves.
On September 2, 1957, members of the Birmingham ASK kidnapped Edward “Judge” Aaron, a mildly retarded African American. After driving him to “the den,” six members proceeded to beat, mutilate, castrate, and pour repenting on Aaron and left him for dead on the side of a highway until Aaron’s life was saved by a passing police officer. It was later discovered that Aaron was beaten because Clansman Bart Floyd wished to be promoted to “captain of lair” and therefore volunteered to castrate an African American at random.
In another instance, famous African American singer Nat King Cole was beaten on stage at his own concert in Birmingham by at least one ASK member in April 1956. 5 Both of these instances were caused not by opposition to civil rights, but simply by the hatred that members of the UK Klux Klan had for African Americans. One interesting thing that I noted as I continued to research the ASK is that they did not discriminate singularly against African Americans, but against anyone who was not a white protestant. The UK Klux Klan was known to beat Jews, Catholics, unfaithful husbands, and public drunkards.
Chester Sandman, the principal of Woodlawn High School was pressured to quit his Job because he was a Jew. 6 Also, Klan members murdered a Catholic priest, Father James Coyly, in August of 1921. 7 These cases demonstrate that the UK Klux Klan was not simply an anti-civil rights group, but that they had a pep hatred for those unlike themselves. Nonviolent discrimination against African Americans through Christianity. Though these groups did not harm African Americans directly, they oppressed them by denying them American freedoms.
One famous example of this is an article written in a Birmingham newspaper by eight clergymen called “A Call to Unity’ that later inspired Martin Luther King Jar. ‘s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail. ” This letter dissuaded African Americans from protesting, even peacefully, because such demonstrations are “unwise and untimely. “8 Such groups demonstrate that even nonviolent Christians sometimes negatively influenced the civil rights movement, and essentially discriminated against African Americans by opposing the movement. From my research, several things have become clear about the evil attributed to Christianity in the Civil Rights Movement.
In extreme cases (such as in the ASK) Christianity can implant a single-mindedness in individuals that causes them to place others in a lower class than themselves, and it can cause them to protect this classicism in extremely violent ways. Also, in extreme cases, Christians have used their oath as an excuse to harm others unlike themselves for no apparent reason. Finally, in less extreme cases, Christianity can be used to Justify nonviolent discrimination. However, in both extreme and non-extreme cases, Christianity was used to Justify much evil in Birmingham during the Civil Rights Movement.
Group Research Narrative: As a group, we decided that the best means for keeping up with each others’ research and where we were going with our key learning was through a Google Doc, on which we recorded resources, key research points, our writings as we began to formulate them, and critiques on others’ writings. James began his research by reading some books on the UK Klux Klan to gain some basic knowledge about the Klan and its origins. One of the books that he read led him to research Sam Bowers, but James could not connect Bowers to Birmingham. James then began to focus on George Wallace, governor of Alabama.
He watched a documentary on Wallace and discovered that a Klan member from Birmingham wrote one of Wallach’s speeches. James and I met in the library to discuss what each of us would consider for our research, since we had similar topics and we decided that he would focus on Wallach’s speechwriter, Carter, while I would cover more general topics in my research. After this, James critically read and evaluated the speech that Carter had written for Wallace and wrote his key learning on this evaluation. Victoria began her research by going to the library and looking for books generally on the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham.
She then visited the Civil Rights website but soon came to a dead end. She decided to search the Internet and stumbled upon a book review about zoning in Birmingham and decided to use that book as the basis for her research. Adam was at first very unsure of what to research. However, he went to the library with Victoria and eventually found a book about churches during the Civil Rights Era and became interested in researching that topic. Adam used this research to begin writing, but decided to look online for more information. He found another online source to add to his book and finished writing his key learning.
The first thing that stood out to me from Dam’s research was that African American churches did not always promote actively fighting for civil rights, but they promoted passively waiting for God to fix their situation. Adam also discussed the transition from passivity to activity in the churches, which helped me to understand how much was changing in Birmingham during this time. Also, it was interesting to me to read about how churches began to work for social Justice in unique, yet equally important ways such as having kindergartens, libraries, support groups, etc.
Finally, I enjoyed reading about the connections that Adam made in the end about how his research relates to Christianity in general. One thing that was interesting to find out from James was how involved the UK Klux Klan was in politics. I knew that Governor Wallace was against the Civil Rights Movement, but I was surprised that a member of the UK Klux Klan wrote a speech for him. Also, it was interesting to note the mentions that Wallace made to God, the evil of the federal government, and his stance on race relations, all of which nearly perfectly corresponded to the beliefs of the UK Klux Klan.
From this research, I began to realize how much the ASK impacted the politics of Birmingham and of the South in general. It was interesting to note the city dynamics in Birmingham from Victorians research. I was unaware of the importance of the zoning in Birmingham and how hose zones affected the Civil Rights Movement in the city. The zones had been in place long before the Civil Rights Movement, but I learned about different court cases dealing with zoning in the city and how the local churches and the NAACP fought to get rid of the zoning codes from Victorians research.
Also, it was interesting to learn about how the zoning codes affected specific individuals in Birmingham, such as with Mrs.. Alice P. Allen. Reflection on Good and Evil in Christianity: “The ideal in Christianity is always non-violence, is always pacifist. The command of Jesus to ‘love why neighbor’ is paramount. “9 If this quote from a Catholic priest rings true and the epitome of Christianity is love, how then can one account for the violence, hatred, classicism, and racism endorsed by the self-proclaimed Christian organization, UK Klux Klan?
Christianity has simultaneously produced some of the greatest humanitarians and the worst terrorists in the world from the same basic beliefs, scriptures, and teachings. From what I have learned in my research and in class, I believe that there are two main reasons for the large variety of practice of the same religion. Much of he evil produced by Christianity is derived from groups that accentuate parts of the Bible that the majority of Christians do not, and who take verses out of context in order to Justify their actions. As we have discussed, different sects of Christianity place greater importance on different portions of the Bible.
For example, Orthodox Christians place a greater emphasis on the Old Testament than Protestants and Catholics. The Bible has a large range of texts, with many texts having different authors from different backgrounds, and from different time periods. Therefore, if two different groups of Christians were to place emphasis on very efferent parts of the Bible, they would practice Christianity very differently. The UK others. Romans 12:2 incites Christians to “not be conformed to this world” but to be “transformed” and Exodus 33:16 proclaims that God’s people should be “separate… Room all the people who are upon the face of the earth. ” Taking these verses into account, one can better understand how the UK Klux Klan might Justify segregation. However, many Christians emphasize the Bible’s inclusive nature, since it references all races by using phrases such as “all nations,” “all the earth,” and “all peoples on the earth” over eighty times throughout the text of the Bible. For example in Revelations 7:9, the author describes the throne of God at the end of the world saying, “there before me was a great multitude… Room every nation, tribe, people, and language,” demonstrating that God accepts all peoples. The perception through which different groups reads these texts from the Bible determines if that group will practice Christianity by producing good, or practice it by producing evil. These seemingly contradicting verses lead me to my second explanation for the derivation of both good and evil from Christianity. One verse taken out of context should not be used as the basis of an entire belief system, though in the case of the UK Klux Klan for example, it often is.
In the same chapter that the Romans are commanded to “not be conformed to this world,” they are also commanded to not think too highly of themselves, they are taught that they are all one in the body of Christ, they are commanded to love one another with “brotherly love,” they are commanded not to practice vengeance, and they are commanded to be peaceable with all men. The ASK chose to emphasize the beginning of this chapter without aging into consideration the context of the rest of the chapter, yet the part that they do emphasize is a large basis for the beliefs of the UK Klux Klan.
I believe that one can use out of context verses to Justify much evil because without context, one can give the verse a different meaning than what is intended by the author, which allows one to say that the Bible says something that it actually does not say. Thus far I have assumed that Christianity generally produces good and a misinterpretation of Christianity can produce evil, but how can I be sure that it is not he misinterpretation of Christianity that can produce good instead?
One Catholic priest demonstrates how groups like the ASK have misconstrued Christianity when he says that “Jesus never taught us to go out… And kill people; he taught us a very different way of life… Terrorism is bound up very much in hate. There is literally no place for hate in the faith. “10 However, if the views of the UK Klux Klan are so different from that of the Bible, one might wonder why they even claim Christianity. The Catholic priest goes on to say that, “any kind of Christian sugar coating on their the UK Klux Klan] activities is Just an excuse, a way of allowing themselves to feel good. Christianity is highly respected by many people, especially those in the “Bible Belt” of the Southern United States. If a group (like the ASK) can Justify their beliefs by the Bible, their beliefs will carry a much greater weight than if they could not rationalize their beliefs through Christianity. In a way, if one can support their actions through Christianity, that person can morally get away with whatever they want. For these reasons, Christianity is a religion that produces so much good, while producing so much evil.