Adventists, Fundamentalism, and the Second Wave of the Ku Klux Klan

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Volume 50, Issue 1 of Spectrum. You can subscribe to support Adventist scholarship and independent journalism.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Hmmm…Fundamentalism takes on many shapes and forms as it seeks to be supreme.

1 Like

The hoods and gowns of the past have been replaced in this day and age by suits and ties.

So many of our brethren deny that they are racist but their rhetoric and lives betray them. When presented with stories and examples of racism from history these very same ones will react with horror and denounce those who committed evil acts. However people today, even in this forum, express the same level of thinking and attitudes that are the root cause of this great evil.


Wow! Some very horrific stories and experiences stated in this article. I am so glad that is way behind us now. Everyone deserves freedom to live, as that is how God intended life to be for mankind.

1 Like

That’s the issue, it is not ‘way behind us’, it still exists all around us!


I have the same reaction and was frankly surprised that such things happened in my lifetime to be honest.

My concern is that while progress has been made is it realistic to think the level of thinking which caused and perpetuated these issues has been stamped out?

I think it unlikely that such deep seated cultural and societal issues have been stamped out amongst the brethren let alone the general populace. We should celebrate progress but be vigilant and address swiftly any resurgence of behavior, policy or attitude to ensure that it never arises again.


Divide and conquer. We are all a subjugated people, huddled in a prison without locks. We are free to walk out at anytime.

This is an excellent essay, but I wish we could be more objective and less hagiographic in our representations about Ellen White’s views on race. She clearly presents herself as a believer in the Curse of Ham theory, which holds that black people have been cursed. See PP 117.2. Consequently, most Seventh-day Adventists up until the latter part of the twentieth century believed in the Curse of Ham theory. Even today, there is not an editorial footnote in this most popular book, Patriarchs and Prophets, that explains that she was a child of her time, that her writings are historically conditioned, that she was not perfect, etc.

Furthermore, she is given far too much adulation for advocating disobedience to the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. Most everyone in the North openly defied this law. She would have been an outlier, an oddity, if she hadn’t advocated disobedience to the law.


I am intrigued, please elaborate as your meaning is not clear…

You may hear some who say we shouldn’t talk about it or in some cases even acknowledge our denominations history. Imagine if the Bible didn’t relate the good, the bad and the ugly. We would never know that the Bible heroes were flawed humans just like us. We would never be able to relate or learn from their mistakes and successes. Knowing the impacts our words and deeds and the fruit that they bear is essential so as to grow and change.

All to often it is thought that their is no good in dredging up the past but the Bible shows us this is not true. The writers of the Bible provided stark and raw life lessons and examples of the people it describes, they whitewashed no one. If we as Adventists can’t acknowledge our past and learn from them by making it available to future generations to know about we deprive them of important lessons.

History is not there for you to like or dislike. It is to learned from and is only possible with the unvarnished truth of it is preserved and available. If history offends you, all the better, because you are less likely to repeat it. This is point after all.

1 Like

I would tend to say it is not all around us but certainly agree that some dwell on the past and stay there.

1 Like

Wearing blinders can keep us from seeing what is around us. Let’s ask the person of color or different ethnicity about racism not being a fact of life. To suggest ‘they’ or ‘some’ are dwelling in the past too much pretty much speaks to the mindset of continued blindness.


The Bible is always talking about the past, the Apostles mostly talked about the past, Jesus reminded us of our past. How is this article or others who acknowledge the past problematic?

1 Like

The historical reminders are great for teaching where we have come from. We should and have grown from historical pasts. I am so glad we have overcome the racism issue in our nation. However there is still criminal activity that happens from evil minded individuals. Chicago, New York, and LA is full the harm.

I don’t see that the article is problematic. Do you? I’m just glad to see how we have overcome such horrific behaviors. Staying in the past would be problematic. We must guard our hearts to stay healthy in our heart, mind, and soul.

1 Like

" I am so glad we have overcome the racism issue in our nation."

In what alternate universe has this taken place? Twilight Zone?

I live in the USA and we’ve hardly done that. Or rather, we clearly have not.

Where do you live?

1 Like

Not L.A. not New York. Not Chicago. In fact, not in a big city. Yes, in the USA where all citizens have freedoms and rights; well, for now anyway.

Have you been attacked or made a victim because of someone elses racist mindset? Actually, that is really just criminal behavior since the Constitution protects us against racism. We can praise God for the great country we have lived in. Maybe not for much longer though according to the news.

1 Like

What we have here, folks, is an example of the ‘Ostrich Syndrome’!!

1 Like

If you think we’ve solved racism in the big cities, you haven’t been paying attention. Or you don’t understand what racism is.


This article is pretty thin gruel. Did some Adventist join, or attend some meetings? Seems so. But I don’t sense a large number, nor formal church, or even informal church support. Segregation was a much bigger problem. I grew up in CA, and we did not have regional conferences, something I did not know of till even later in life.

The joining of Fundamentalism and the Klan also seems rather tenuous. Some things held in common, but that does not mean a connection.

It was Democrats in the South who devised Jim Crow and segregation, a much stronger tie to the Klan than Adventists and Fundamentalists. I’m looking for some articles on that…

1 Like