|The Klan and the Spirit
Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)
... unto us a son is given: and the
government shall be upon his shoulder ...
The Klan is gone for
good--at least according to Robert Shelton, former Imperial Wizard of the United Klans of
America, Incorporated. The Ku Klux Klan was created soon after the Civil War by six
former Confederate soldiers. The purpose was to put the fear of God into
"presumptuous black folk" who might otherwise believe they were on a par with
white folk. Klan membership and activity spread from 1865 through 1870, and began to
dwindle after Congress passed anti-Klan legislation in 1871. But the 1915 movie classic, Birth
of a Nation, restored an interest in the Klan which lasted through the Great
Depression of the 30s. Since then countless other White supremacy groups have
sprung up, some splintering from the Klan, others established independently as more
extreme expressions of the same view.
In 1944, the Internal Revenue Service filed a lien against the
Klan for back taxes of over $685,000 on profits earned during the 1920s, and Klan
membership began to dwindle. But the Klan did not die. It simply became even
more of an Invisible Empire. In Georgia and Mississippi there were lynchings, cross
lightings, and beatings to keep the "niggahs" in line. In West Virginia,
Robert Byrd, not yet a U.S. Senator, urged revival of the Klan. In California,
Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama, strong Klan affiliations grew, and the ranks of the
Invisible Empire often swelled by local law enforcement. On May 17, 1954, the
Supreme Court issued a decision against school segregation, which resulted in even more
Klan growth. The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964 and many of us may have thought
that the federal government was our salvation. Not!
Since the Civil Rights Act, public schools have been desegregated
although not integrated socio-economically; Division I colleges and universities have
benefitted from the dominance of Black athletes while historically Black colleges and
universities have declined in attendance and proportional funding; Black entertainers have
dominated on stage and screen, in dance halls, and comedy clubs, and Blacks lead the
nation in single parent families, many of which survive just above or at the poverty
Over 2000 years ago, Jesus was born to a virgin that he might
free us from a law we could not keep. The freedom He effected was not by doing away
with the law, but by paying the penalty demanded by the law. But the Jews of the day
were expecting a Messiah who would free them from Roman dominance. They were not
expecting to be empowered from within. They were expecting one who would dethrone
the Roman government and restore the throne of David to a secular rule.Consequently, many
of them missed true freedom from dominance. Isaiah had foretold it over 700 years
earlier but the Jews of The New Testament could not see it. Just as we often don't
see it today.
Just how would the government be upon the shoulder of a little
child? The government rests on His shoulder as we allow Him to rule within us.
The world, the nation, the neighborhood, are all changed as we allow ourselves to
Freedom may be legislated, but the law will never change hearts.
According to Robert Shelton, the Klan will never return.
But he goes on, "Not with the robes and rallies and the cross lightings and parades,
everything that made the Klan the Klan, the mysticism, what we called the klancraft."
nothing in Shelton's statement to imply that the attitudes of would-be Klansmen have
changed. Only the organization has died--the spirit lives on. And many
other White supremacy groups remain and thrive and continue the spirit of fear and hatred.
But Jesus Christ also lives. And His power is ours for strength and growth and all
we need for self-empowerment. But we must recognize how it works. The power of
Christ is not to change the world as we remain the same. The power of Christ
is to change us that we might do His will on earth and change the world.