The Use of Protestant Religion by Ku Klux Klan Members Essay
The Use of Protestant Religion by Ku Klux Klan Members
The Ku Klux Klan
This is an organization pioneered by some members of the Confederate (American Southerners) army. This organization was composed of renegade white military officers of the South. They were against the policies of Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party. The policies were the following: 1) granting freedom to black slaves after the defeat of the Confederate army in Gettysburg, 2) granting some forms of rights to these former slaves, 3) institutionalization of an archaic form of equality, 4) implementing laws that would stimulate immigration to the United States, 5) and protecting the lives and properties of foreigners (Fowler, 7-8).
Granting freedom (or emancipation) to blacks was certainly one of the most hated policies of the Ku Klux Klan to the Lincoln government. Blacks for the Ku Klux Klan were just instruments of economic development, especially for the Southern States which depend on Black labor to operate the cotton factories. Blacks were nothing but short of a white man and typically higher than an ape.
Nevertheless, the emancipation of the Blacks in the South brought some disadvantages to the white population of both Northern and Southern States. White unemployment rose to a double digit; since blacks could partially compete with the white population in terms of labor hiring, and then it follows that poverty incidence for the white population would be higher.
Granting some form of rights to former Black slaves was unpatriotic and unnecessary. Blacks were never part of the “America” that the forefathers established. Neither were they a part of the nation that the constitution of the United States implicitly expressed. Because of their insignificance to the “American” nation, rights should therefore be withheld and be restricted to the true citizens, the citizens whom the forefathers visualized (Evans, 2-3). Blacks should either remain slaves or be transported back to their “homeland”: Africa.
With the freedoms and rights granted by the Lincoln government, it was inconceivable for the Ku Klux Klan to view these things as equality enforcement of the government. Although the institutionalization of equality of blacks in post-civil war America was archaic or of old type, it did succeed in upgrading the status of Blacks from slaves to second class citizens. This irritated some members of the white population and turned to the Ku Klux Klan for help.
The Ku Klux Klan willingly massacred villages which were predominantly populated by blacks and murdered innocent black children. The Ku Klux Klan was against equality, for equality does not exist for unequal races.
Increasing the net immigration rate to the United States was always opposed by the Ku Klux Klan. The economic capital of the United States, especially its natural and human resources should be reserved for its citizens. Foreigners would and cannot be part of the United States because they were not the descendants of the founding fathers. Therefore it was natural that all he advantages of the nation should always be directed to its natural citizens.
Foreigners for the Ku Klux Klan are just humans who were trying to escape from the difficulties of their homeland. Immigration as envisioned by the Lincoln government which would stimulate rapid economic development was really its deterrent. Foreigners earning in the country would channel their income to their homelands and thus restricting development.
As have been stipulated above, foreigners should not in any way be entertained by the American government. It then follows that the properties and lives of foreigners who chose to stay on American soil should be at the disposal of the government. It would be unpatriotic to protect foreign rights while busy dispensing injustice to the white population in terms of high taxes and indiscipline spending of government funds.
Thus we come to the methods of the Ku Klux Klan in achieving these goals. The methods utilized range from lobbying to murder. They employed legal and extra-legal methods to pressure public officials to implement segregation laws on their respective districts. They also gave formal seminars on how to combat the rising preponderance of Blacks in the political arena. Ku Klux Klan members were obliged to strictly enforce their goals wherever they were assigned by the central committee.
Protestant Religion and the Ku Klux Klan
Most members of the Ku Klux Klan were Protestants. They adhere to the old teachings of Protestantism which held that men can only be saved through faith in Jesus Christ, and can abstain from sinning through a thorough reflection of the Bible. Protestantism also held the view that all men are equal in the eyes of God and thus invariable capable of reaching to him and attaining salvation. Nevertheless, it also held that men can also be instruments of God’s message to the world (the process of evangelization), and thus become God’s voice in the world.
These are typically fundamental Christian doctrines that even non-Protestants adhere. The members of the Ku Klux Klan however went to the extreme and declared the following as God’s desire for His people: 1) every nation should be governed by its natural citizens; 2) men are equal in the eyes of God but never in its status in the civilization ladder; 3) the revival of the true form of Christianity rests on the purification of doctrines and dogmas of the Church; 4) every people should accept his station in life without the guidance of the government or even its arm institutions; and 5) separation or segregation of races is a desirable feature of a Christian community who have a respect for the preservation of the customs and traditions of every people.
Every nation was blessed by God and thus it naturally follows that those who establish these nations must govern it. When a certain government wished to extend its arms of authority to other states, then it violates God’s fundamental laws. The same was true for Blacks. Blacks have no rights whatsoever of intruding the lives of American citizens (white). They would certainly violate the laws of God and must therefore be punished in any way possible to stop these encroachments.
The Ku Klux Klan also believed that every man is equal in the eyes of God but is unequal in the civilization ladder. This was extended to the statement: Every nation is equal in the eyes of God but never in the civilization ladder. To put it simple, nations as recorded in history did not achieve the same rate of civilization development. Some people established great civilizations while others fade away from the shining glory of other nations.
In the case of America, they believed that America was destined to be great and leader of the civilized world. America would become the first among equals, or more accurately the leader of the equals. This was an interpretation taken to the extreme for it resembles some of the fundamentals of German NAZISM.
Roman or Orthodox Christianity was not the true form of Christianity that Jesus Christ had envisioned. The early Church was apostatized during its first 2 centuries. It was replaced by a church characterized by the corruption of Church officials (bishops, abbots, priests, monks, and even popes) and insensitiveness to the growing spiritual needs of the Roman world.
Thus, the aim of Ku Klux Klan was to establish a new Church, unified with the state, to serve the spiritual needs of the population. The population however must be segregated to enable the priests to examine problems specific to each of the populations. In this way, evangelization may become a way for social solidarity.
Thus we came to the fundamental teaching of Christianity: to accept one’s station in life as the will of God, without the guidance or help of an institution outside from the human will. To apply it in American social affairs, members of the Ku Klux Klan believed that the blacks should willingly accept their stations in life as either slaves or inferior human beings. They should accept that the whites are far more superior to any other race and that segregation is a way of making the Blacks at home, through segregated blocks and residential areas.
The Ku Klux Klan found the Protestant religion a useful tool in spreading their doctrines to the white populations of both Northern and Southern States. Protestantism could be characterized as flexible, that is, its fundamentals can be interpreted in any way. Roman Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity, and Judaism are religions with strict views and interpretations of Biblical events and doctrines, and are therefore unsuitable for the Ku Klux Klan’s goals.
Although this it should not be argued that the members of the Ku Klux Klan were well aware of the advantages of the Protestant religion over other religions in flexibility of interpretation of doctrines. It was possible that the members of the said organization were really raised to be Protestants. And note here Protestantism is not a singularity; it is composed of differing views on the nature and stature of Jesus Christ. Personal practices also differ significantly.
Symbols of Ku Klux Klan
The Ku Klux Klan used many symbols to encrypt and spread their goals and messages. The use of the hooked cross symbolize their desire to establish a socialist society based on the major tenets of collectivity, responsibility, and Christianity. This “socialist” society is far removed from the socialist society of Karl Marx, for here Christ not labor serves as the foundation of all works of civilization. Added to that, the state and the Church would be united; this is a contradiction of the Communist society envisioned by Marx.
The use of white robes signifies the Ku Klux Klan’s desire to purify this world with vengeance and force. The Church, American society and government, and if possible some parts of this contemporary world must be purified from all acts of evil, whatever the means possible. White is tantamount to a return to an old age. This was an age of noble collective sacrifice for humanity and respect for the sanctity of the Christian religion.
The lightning cross was employed by members of the Ku Klux Klan to signify the return of Christ to his world. Christ will return to earth to establish peace and order and punish those who had done evil in the eyes of God. As Christ would in the future segregate the sinners from the saints, so would the Ku Klux Klan segregate the whites from the blacks. Blacks, Catholics, and Jews are the parasites of the modern world. The only way for them not to infect the majority was to segregate them (this is understandable for about 55% of US are Protestants, 33% are Catholics, the rest of other religious denominations). Nevertheless, it should be noted that this is an allegory of the return of Christ.
The use of the straight hand salute (derived from the German Nazis) signifies the unwavering love of each citizen to the American nation. It connotes patriotism and undying sacrifice for the country. For the Ku Klux Klan, patriotism and sacrifice are corollary and associative. Both operate in the world of the governed, the masses, and the enlightened elites. Naturally, this would stimulate rational thinking which would favor the whites as against the blacks, Protestants over non-Protestants.
It should be noted that in the United States, because many political and judicial offices were held by members of the said organization, segregation was not an uncommon thing. Segregation was implemented to protect the rights of both whites and blacks from possible intrusion, according to the proponents of this argument (this was similar to the implementation of the Apartheid in South Africa). Intrusion would be prevented and the dignity of both whites and blacks would be maintained.
The US Supreme Court, for instance, argued in several cases, that segregation of colored populations was constitutional because segregation aimed for the protection of the rights, freedoms, and dignity of individual ethnic groups in the American soil.
There was no sense in arguing that segregation was necessarily bad for blacks because segregation is functional in nature. Blacks and whites were equally protected by the laws of the American Federal Republic in terms of the preservation of ethnicity and social solidarity within the group. (It was a pseudo-equality, for the Blacks were never given equal chances to upgrade their mode of living, thus in contemporary times experiencing the highest poverty incidence and mortality).
Ku Klux Klan and Nazism
It is of no doubt that both Ku Klux Klan and Nazism possess the same kind of doctrines. They are as follows: 1) belief in a practical Christianity, 2) racial segregation, 3) unification of church and state, 4) dominance of the German state, and 5) doctrinal propaganda. The two “ideologies” (although it is not right to call Ku Klux Klan an ideology) should however not be taken as one and the same. Each operates on different conditions.
Christianity, for the Nazis should be practical or useful. It should serve the interests of the German nations, the so-called “Volks”; for if it contradicts the very purpose of the German state and people, how would this religion become significant. Practical Christianity should be mindful of the needs and aspirations of the people it serves. It must not be internationalist in approach but rather race specific, for spiritual needs according to Nazism is race specific.
The Nazis believed that racial segregation is the key of unifying the German nation. Because Germany at the time of Hitler was “composed” of different ethnic groups, it became hard to examine the real needs of the people, and hence the real “German.” In order to restore unity, non-German ethnic groups should either be expelled from the German land (there was a time when Hitler considered shipping the Jews to Madagascar) or be segregated to ghettoes.
The state and the church must be unified for the purpose of giving preponderance or importance to the German nation. The state is the political arm of the nation. The church is its spiritual arm. To coalesce Germans who came from many places, who were exposed to so many different experiences and circumstances, the two arms should work together to ensure that in due time, they would become one. This might sound a little revolutionary but that is how Nazism works.
The German state must however exercise domination over other little European states. Germany was born out of wars and disillusionments. The tragedy of European civilization lifted up the German spirit in the fields of music, literature, science, and philosophy. Thus, according to proponents of Nazism, comes the birth of a new form of civilization far greater than the previous ones. The blood certificate of nations, according to Nietzsche, is the will to power, power itself.
In order to achieve these goals, the German state must use propaganda to condition the minds of the German populace. Propaganda serves as the grounding point for racial unification. This would include the agreement of special terms like “salvation”, “Germany”, and others. To define things in front of the masses would orchestrate massive following. Propaganda would serve as the precursor to German ideological unification.
Note that Nazism was rooted from the teachings of the Ku Klux Klan, although the derivation became more extreme than its source. The Ku Klux Klan was in fact one of the basic sources of the doctrine of racial segregation and purity (which many historians credited falsely to Nazism). These set of racial doctrines were used by many demagogues and leaders to expand their racial viewpoints, at the expense of truth.
Note also that Nazism operated in a nation dominated by Protestants (Lutherans), similar to the composition of Ku Klux Klan which is predominantly Protestant. Although similarities in religion were determined, further studies are required to evaluate the validity of this proposition and exact the real propositions if possible.
The Ku Klux Klan in Contemporary Times
The Ku Klux Klan today rejects violence as a form of pressure. This was due to the declining membership of the organization, which according to one study was attributed to its illegal activities. It seeks to find other means to achieve its goals. These means are legal in nature (in scope of existing laws and regulations). However, there are cases when violence occurred as in some of the recent court cases involving the attacks of members of the organization on blacks.
It should be noted that the goals of the organization did not change even after years of dissolution and reestablishment. Racial segregation, immigration, school prayers, straight salute to the flag, and many others are some of the topics that the organization are currently actively engaged in.
The symbols of the organization remained. They are constantly aware that collectivism, socialism, practical Christianity, and racial purity will in the future replace the contours of liberalism and capitalism. The disillusions of racial disintegration of the American nation would certainly heat the heads of the member of Ku Klux Klan, but they are confident that these will all pass away. They believe that their doctrines and propositions are not historical creations (that is, necessaries borne out of chances); they are given from above.
Hence, the use of the Protestant religion of the Ku Klux Klan to justify their doctrines are well described but never fully understood, for the Ku Klux Klan may not be aware of the religious composition of their organization.
Evans, H.W. The Klan’s Fight for Americanism. The North American Review, 1926. http://archive.lib.msu.edu/AFS/dmc/radicalism/public/all/klansfightamericanism/AFQ.pdf?CFID=4830606&CFTOKEN=44831753. Retrieved July 28, 2007.
Fowler, C. Lewis. The Ku Klux Klan: Its Origin, Meaning and Scope of Operations. Atlanta, Georgia, 1922. In http://archive.lib.msu.edu/AFS/dmc/radicalism/public/all/kkkoriginmeaning/AFS.pdf?CFID=4830606&CFTOKEN=44831753. Retrieved July 28, 2007.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 20 March 2017