Alabama Baptist Leaders ‘Grieved’ After Pastor Posts Photo Celebrating Birthday of KKK Grand Wizard
Alabama Baptist leaders said they were “grieved” after learning that Pastor Will Dismukes of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Prattville had offered prayers at an event celebrating the 199th birthday of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a leader in the Confederate Army and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Dismukes, who’s also a Republican state representative, was subsequently forced to resign from his role as pastor.
The statement comes as Dismukes, 30, is also being urged to resign from political office.
Dismukes sparked the national controversy when he shared a post on Facebook from the July 25 event along with a photo of him surrounded by Confederate flags.
The event was held at Fort Dixie in Selma and coincided with ceremonies honoring the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis, an Alabama native who is an icon in the civil rights movement, The Alabama Baptist reported.
“Had a great time at Fort Dixie speaking and giving the invocation for Nathan Bedford Forrest annual birthday celebration. Always a great time and some sure enough good eating!!” he wrote.
As outcry grew over the post which was removed by Dismukes but not before several people took screenshots of it.
Leaders of the Alabama Baptist Convention State Board of Missions also spoke out.
“We are saddened and grieved to learn of the recent Facebook post by State Representative Will Dismukes who also serves as a bivocational pastor. In the wake of tremendous controversy, we reaffirm our opposition to any kind of racism. On July 27, each of us affirmed a June 4 blog article ‘A Personal Credo Concerning Racism’ written and posted by Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist Convention State Board of Missions,” the Alabama Baptist Convention leaders wrote.
Keith Hinson, associate for public relations at the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, which is associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, explained to The Christian Post on Friday that SBC churches are “entirely autonomous in decision making, including about the choice of who may or may not serve as a minister,” which leaves the door open for Dismukes to be rehired as a church leader.