Starting today, there is a fourth annual Christian Pastor’s conference in Lamar County, in west Alabama. This one is making news because it is advertised as being for “White Christians,” and ends on Friday evening with a “Sacred Christian Cross Lighting Ceremony.”
Flyers were recently posted in Winfield, in a neighboring county, during the night. The flyer is by the “Church of God’s Chosen, Christian Identity Ministries.”
Vernon is the county seat of Lamar County, which has a population of just over 14,000 and is 86 percent white, 12 percent black. The conference itself will be in Beaverton.
Christian Identity movements believe that white Anglo-Saxons are the true Chosen People, descendants of the ancient Israelites, and that the Jews of today are either imposters or descendants of Satan.
According to an FBI report, Christian Identity churches promote the view that there will be a “cleansing process” before the Second Coming, during which “Jews and their allies will attempt to destroy the white race using any means available” and that after God’s kingdom is established, whites will be recognized as the true Israel.
Adherents of Christian Identity formed groups like the Posse Comitatus and Aryan Nations, and Birmingham abortion clinic bomber Eric Rudolph was influenced by Christian Identity leaders.
While most people think of “cross burnings” as a hallmark of the Ku Klux Klan, which also uses Christian Identity ideology, they prefer the term used in the flyer, “cross lighting.”
Wayne Silas, the mayor of Winfield, was quoted as saying “The city is upset. The city of Winfield does not condone this.” Churches in the area are promoting Independence Day activities that are open to everyone.
Rev. William Collier, an event organizer, told Fox 6 (WBRC-TV) that the conference was only for whites because “We don’t have the facilities to accommodate other people. We haven’t got any invitations to black, Muslim events. Of course we are not invited to Jewish events and stuff.”
In Lamar County, there is one Jewish family, in the northern part of the county. The nearest synagogues are a far piece, in Columbus and Tupelo, Miss., and Tuscaloosa. The Columbus congregation is closest, 30 miles from Vernon.
Rev. Calvin Woods of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said the event sounds like racism. “Everyone has the right to peaceful assembly, but to just point out you only want white Christians, that doesn’t sound Christian. To me at all, sounds like something Satan would want.”