KKK cross burnings 'blasphemous' Richard Land says after hate group calls act 'holy'

by Kimberly Pennington, National Correspondent |
Members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) participate in a cross lighting ceremony at a Klansman's home in Warrenville, South Carolina October 23, 2010. KKK Imperial Wizard Duwayne Johnson said it was the first public cross lighting in 50 years. | REUTERS/Rainier Ehrhardt

COLUMBIA, S.C. (Christian Examiner) -- Members of the Pellham, North Carolina Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan had planned a rally in front of the South Carolina state house July 18 protesting the possible removal of the Confederate flag from the property -- but their plans are unclear now that the flag has been removed.

They also planned a cross burning that same night at the hometown of their "Grand Dragon" some 20 miles away from the capitol that same night.

"Say no to cultural genocide," a message on the group's website says. "If you can't tell, they are trying to wipe us out of the history books ... . Tell this cultural, Marxist government they better not dare to dishonor our ancestors' graves."

Despite comments by South Carolina's Republican Governor Nikki Haley that the group is not welcome in the state, the Loyal White Knights had obtained an official permit for the rally.

Haley signed a law Thursday (July 9) – well ahead of the group's protest, however – that removes the flag from the State House and sent it to a museum Friday. 

The South Carolina Budget and Control Board, which oversees applications for use of the capitol grounds property, allows any group to reserve the grounds on a first-come, first-serve basis -- regardless of ideology.

There have been several rallies in the same location favoring removal of the Confederate flag from state property. Calls for removal of the flag increased after nine African-Americans died June 17 in a mass shooting at Charleston, South Carolina's Mother Emanuel A.M.E. church. Alleged shooter Dylann Roof was seen in online pictures holding the Confederate flag prior to the shooting.

The Washington Post reports that Loyal White Knights "Grand Titan" James Spears expects the rally to be peaceful, according to his definition of "peaceful," with approximately 200 participants, but he also stated the group's "Grand Dragon" lives 20 miles from the South Carolina state house where a "cross lighting" will occur the same evening.

The North Carolina Klan group's web site offers rationalizations for cross lightings. Calling the cross a "symbol of sacrifice and service and a sign of the Christian faith," the group claims every Klan Klavern has one as a "constant reminder that Christ is our criterion of charter, and his teachings our rule of life."

They claim the cross, once a "sign of ignominy, disgrace and shame," was transformed into a symbol of faith, hope, and love after "being bathed in the blood of the lowly Nazarene."

Today, the Klan uses the to "rally the forces of Christianity against the ever increasing hoards of anti-Christ, and the enemies of the principles of pure Americanism. We have added the fire to signify that Christ is the Light of the World," their online statement continues.

"As light drives away the darkness and gloom, so a knowledge of the truth dispels ignorance and superstition. As fire purifies gold, silver and precious stones, but destroys the cross, wood, hay and stubble; so by the fire of Calvary's Cross we mean to purify and cleanse our virtues by burning out our vices and the fire of His sword," the White Knights claim.

"Who can look upon this sublime symbol, or sit in its sacred holy light without being inspired with holy desire and determination to be a better man? BY THIS SIGN WE CONQUER," the statement concludes.

Richard Land, President of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Matthews, North Carolina told Christian Examiner the Klan rationale for cross burnings is "blasphemous."

"It is blasphemous for the Ku Klux Klan to seek to wrap its white supremacist beliefs in the glory of the cross. The cross of Jesus Christ is the antithesis of everything for which the Ku Klux Klan has stood and now stands. In a just world, Christianity could sue the Klan for libel and defamation for seeking to appropriate the cross of Christ which symbolizes his sacrificial love for everyone, red and yellow, black and white, as a symbol for their racist and odious beliefs and practices," Land said.

While Land believes the Confederate flag should be relegated to museums because of the pain it causes African-Americans, he also believes groups like the Loyal White Knights are partially responsible for the current movement to remove the very flag they seek to protect from public property. Land told Christian Examiner, "The white supremacists and the Klan bear more responsibility than anyone for the movement to remove the Confederate battle flag from public places by the ways in which they have besmirched and sullied it by seeking to wrap their odious beliefs in its folds."