Civil Rights and William Branham

Critics of Bro. William Branham allege that he was an opponent of the Civil Rights movement in the United States. This is largely part of their effort to fabricate evidence of his connection to the Klu Klux Klan, which we debunk in another article. In this article we will examine Bro. Branham’s statements and the supposed evidence. The allegation is primarily the work of John Collins.

William Branham on race relations

Contrary to what critics would have their readers believe, Bro. Branham only spoke of race issues on rare occasions, and those tended to be in connection to a major race relations event that was in the news at the time. Of the thousands of message he ministered, and the more than 1100 available on recording, we are only aware of 21 messages where Bro. Branham mentioned race relations and civil rights in any meaningful way. Critics seize on a few statements from those sermons to claim Bro. Branham was opposed to civil rights for African Americans.

Bro. Branham conveyed his position on race several times

Remember, friends, if you’re black, white, yellow, red, American, Canadian, Russian, Spanish, Mexico, wherever you’re from, we’re all one in Christ Jesus, every one of us. God don’t love one any more than He does the other one. He doesn’t love me any more than He loves you. He doesn’t love you any more than He loves me. So there we are; we’re all one together in Christ Jesus.

   1947-11-23 – The Children Of Israel
   Rev. William Marrion Branham

Look here. Let me tell you something. I don’t care whether it’s a Negro child, whether it’s a Japanese child, whether it’s a Chinese child, whether it’s a Korean child, or whoever it is, God is no respect of person. That’s God’s child. That’s right. I don’t care whether you were born below the line, or above the line, or wherever you want to. You’ll get in the—you’ll get in the groove when God calls you. That’s right. You’ll get in the place where the Holy Spirit’s a falling. God’s no respecter of persons. That’s right. You’ll get right in the move with God, and you’ll move in the Spirit. And there’s no middle walls of partitions. Jesus Christ tore it all down and made all men brotherhood. Amen. I believe that with all my heart. It’s truly I was borned a Southerner, a rebel. But I was borned again one day. That made the difference. Uh-huh. Amen.

  1952-7-17 – Get The People To Believe
   Rev. William Marrion Branham 

The white people was just as primitive as the—the native of Africa is now, worse perhaps. Remember, two thousand years ago we were naked tribeman out there with a—with a bow and arrow and a stone axe, hunting (that’s exactly right), we Anglo-Saxon people. That’s exactly right. So which was which? I’ll tell you the one today that’s cursed is the one that refuses Jesus Christ. That’s all. The one that accepts Jesus Christ is blessed.

  1954-1-3 – Questions And Answers #2
   Rev. William Marrion Branham

William Branham on racial integration

Bro. Branham openly supported racial integration.

And to you people that don’t believe in integration, be ashamed of you. Our nation permits integration, and we should do what the big boss says do. That’s exactly right. And now, you say… Not to come in places, and so forth like that, or shopping, or set in the back of the bus, and so forth, no, sir. The law says they’re just the same as we are, so we’re the same as they are; so let’s act that way. Let’s be that way. And that’s exactly what all really true borned again people believe. And now, I believe that’s in their heart.

WHO.DO.YOU.SAY.THIS.IS_ PHOENIX.AZ 64-1227

William Branham opposed civil unrest

Bro. Branham was not opposed to equal rights for African Americans, he was instead opposed to Christians being involved in civil unrest. He believed converting white supremacists to true faith in Christ was the solution to racism, and that was the method he supported. John Collins selectively uses the very quotes where Bro. Branham makes his position clear to claim Bro. Branham was opposed to civil rights.

The Pentecostal movement Bro. Branham was part of was majority African-American in many areas. Bro. Branham’s position was reflective of the Pentecostal movement’s position on civil rights. Civil rights leaders were mainly from the mainline Christian denominations. Bro. Branham’s disagreements with civil rights leaders’ methodology was not a white vs black position, but a Pentecostal vs mainline disagreement. John Collins completely misrepresents this reality.

Furthermore, Bro. Branham’s position was developed out of experience. He was present a major civil rights demonstration in Louisiana. John Collins would have you believe he was there on the side of the white supremacists, when in fact we know he was there on the side of the African Americans. John Collins knows this to be the truth as well, but wants to mislead his readers. An African-American minister associated with Bro. Branham stepped forward in an attempt to defuse the civil unrest that occurred. Rather than accomplish it goals, the demonstration ended in major violence when white supremacists attacked the demonstrators. This was very impactful on Bro. Branham’s future viewpoint on how the civil rights movement should advance its cause.

Ultimately, Bro. Branham looked to the return of Christ as the solution to the racial unrest.

What did Bro. Branham say?

What about the other day when we had this question of segregation, down in the South? When this governor of—of Alabama [George Wallace]…I wish I could talk to that minister, that Martin Luther King. How can the man be a leader, and leading his people into a death trap? If those people were slaves, I’d be down there, my coat off, beating away for them people. They’re not slaves. They’re citizens. They’re citizens of the nation. The question of “going to school.” Them people [the white supremacists] , if they got a hard heart and don’t know those things. You can’t drive into a people, spiritual things, what is beat in there with political powers. They’ve got to accept it, be born again, then they’ll see these things. But, this man, if I could only speak to him; leading those precious people, under the name of religion, into a death trap where he’s going to kill thousands times thousands of them! They don’t…They just get the—the natural side. This man, the colored brother, when that great uprise come in Louisiana, I was there at the time. When the…There’s a colored minister, precious old brother, stood up out there and said, asked the militia, “Could I speak to them? They’re my people.” And this old minister stood up, out there, said, “I want to say, this morning, I never was ashamed of my color. My Maker made me what I am.”

63-0630M – The Third Exodus
Rev. William Marrion Branham

Bro. Branham spoke in favor of segregated education

Bro. Branham did make statements supporting segregation of the public schools. He repeated statements of African American’s stating that integration would harm their communities and schools. Bro Branham personally supported the right of African Americans to maintain segregated schools. His position was a result of a fear that the white supremacists would mistreat the black children in integrated schools, not because he was inherently opposed to integration. Bro. Branham was dealing with the reality of desegregated schools in his own community years before it was enforced by federal law in the south. Bro. Branham’s church was biracial, and he was well aware of the problems being experienced by the African American children in his congregation as a result of desegregation in the public schools.

It is noteworthy that Indiana, where Bro. Branham lived, was among the first states to desegregate their schools, and Bro. Branham’s children attended desegregated schools. Indiana schools desegregated voluntarily beginning in the early 1940s and finishing in 1949, before the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education forced all schools in the United States to desegregate.

The reality of situation was that there was widespread abuse and mistreatment of African American children in integrated schools in the years immediately following integration. Bro. Branham was responding to a real problem with his position.

The purpose of this article is to convey to the reader the complexity of this issue at the time (1940s-1950s), and not to defend segregation. Bro. Branham was looking for the best outcomes for his congregation, which included African American members, in response to social circumstances that he did not create. This context is, yet again, completely overlooked by critics. Bro. Branham died long before the beneficial results of desegregation were felt by American society.

William Branham on Interracial Marriage

Bro. Branham discouraged interracial marriage. His opposition was not absolute, but was in response to the society he was living in. In America’s past, interracial marriage was a near death sentence. Those who interracially married would find themselves completely ostracized from both the black and white communities, which both expressed broad opposition to it, and people who forged ahead with an interracial marriage were even at risk of being lynched. Bro. Branham’s position was primarily in consideration of the reality that would be faced by those who chose to marry in that way.

To discourage interracial marriage, Bro. Branham pointed out that God enjoys diversity, and interracial marriage and cultural integration could reduce diversity.

Conversely, Bro. Branham also ministered on the scriptural support for interracial marriage, and how God punished a woman for looking down on interracial marriage.

And Miriam showed her treachery, too, when she laughed, because Moses married this Negro girl. And said, “Wasn’t there other girls to be married, and so forth? He could done it.” And God wasn’t pleased with that, and smote her with leprosy.

  57-0414 – Corinthians, Book Of Correction
   Rev. William Marrion Branham  

Clearly times have changed from the 1940s and 1950s. The negative societal reaction in the United States to interracial marriage has declined. There are interracial families in many message churches, including the churches of editors of this websites. God loves and wants to save interracial people as much as anyone else, and that context is plain in Bro. Branham’s overall acceptance of racial diversity into the kingdom of God.

What do the academics say about Bro. Branham’s position on race?

The intertwining of races was not uncommon in the history of the Pentecostal revivals. Almost from the outset of the revival revivals launched in the 1940s, there was “a racial openness,” with the evangelists preaching to mixed audiences, even in the South where a rope usually separated the races in order to satisfy local ordinances. Both Oral Roberts and William Branham conducted integrated revivals in the late 1940s, with black ministers among those healed at Branham’s first meeting.

Sims, Patsy (1996). Can Somebody Shout Amen!: Inside the Tents and Tabernacles of American Revivalists. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0813108865. p. 75-76

Branham’s revivals were interracial from their inception and were noted for their “racial openness” during the period of widespread racial unrest. An African American minister participating in the St. Louis meetings claimed to be healed during the revival, helping to bring Branham a sizable African American following from the early days of the revival. Dedicated to ministering to both races, Branham insisted on holding interracial meetings even in the southern states. To satisfy segregation laws when ministering in the south, Branham’s team would use a rope to divide the crowd by race.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_M._Branham

Conclusion

Our assessment of Bro. Branham’s overall position on civil rights was that he was liberal for the day he lived in. He supported full equal rights, even in the 1940s when it was highly unpopular. As time progressed, he feared the negative consequences of school desegregation, particularly for his black church members and followers. As a result, his position on desegregation and interracial marriage was more moderate than his overall position supporting full equality. Were he still alive, his position would have continued to evolve as societal circumstances changed, just as it has evolved among those who continue to follow his teachings and his contemporaries who outlived him.

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Salome Solomon
Salome Solomon
11 months ago

Hi! I’m a former message believer and stumbled across your website and this article in particular. Your article is well written and obviously well researched which I do appreciate. However in terms of a worthy rebuttal to change someone’s mind regarding Branham and his allegations of racism this falls rather short. If you’re interested I would like to detail why. Of course you are in no way obligated to read the lengthy essay I have spent entirely too much time crafting, but I will say that I have been looking for a reason to consider the validity of the message and I’m hoping that maybe you will be able to answer my questions in a satisfactory manner. I will warn you, of Branham’s critics I am probably the harshest and most direct. I do not mean any offense. My statements are what I believe to be reasonable and essential arguments; to which, if you cannot acknowledge, confront, and respond accordingly it is almost moot point that what you are arguing so passionately for has major flaws. See. If a concept or ideology resides in absolute truth, one should be able to deeply and thoroughly consider opposing perspectives OBJECTIVELY. At the end of this thorough and objective consideration your truth should still remain an absolute. If it falls short, you owe it to yourself to continue to research until you find satisfactory answers.

1). From what I’m gathering your thesis here is that Branham was quite liberal for his generation; and made statements over the pulpit to refrain from interracial marriage and integration in order to protect his listeners from the violence that correlated such actions at the time. While your quotes allude to that sentiment, he never outright says “avoid integration it is dangerous”. However, What he does outright say in his 1960 sermon titled “Condemnation By Representation” is: “Hybreeding, hybreeding, oh, how terrible, hybreeding. They hybreed the people. New York, the big molding pot. I’ve got hundreds of precious colored friends that’s borned again Christians. But on this line of segregations and things they’re talking about, hybreeding the people. What, tell me what fine cultured, fine Christian colored woman would want her baby to be a mulatto by a white man? No, sir. It’s not right. What white woman would want her baby to be a mulatto by a colored man? God made us what we are. Let’s stay what God made us; I believe it’s right”.
Now. This is a statement that leads the reader to a very possible conclusion that Branham’s distaste for interracial marriages had less to do with avoiding violence, and more to do with a deeper distaste for idea of interracial children. While your thesis may still be correct, as an academic I actually have very little respect for individuals who cannot even mention contradictions to their own conclusions. As I said earlier, if something is true, and you believe it to be true, then you should have no issue addressing and fully picking apart opposing perspectives and ideology that genuinely poses a threat to whatever you believe to be true. I highly doubt you’ve done research on this and not stumbled across this statement he said in particular, and the other similar ones. Your decision to leave it out entirely is frankly, not a very good look to anyone who knows even a meager amount of what you’re talking about. Branham also mentioned that interracial marriage cannot be of God as “hybrids cannot reproduce”. Please explain what that’s even supposed to mean. I don’t need to detail to you how sex and reproduction work. I think it’s common knowledge that all human beings with working sexual organs can reproduce regardless of what skin color their parents are.
2) I think it was a rather poor decision to include Branham’s quote stating that if colored people were slaves he’d be on the front lines fighting for them. That does very little to validate your thesis, if anything it exposes your own ignorance on the matter of civil rights. The enslavement of black people and the government corruption that built the wealth of a nation on the necks of an ethnic group is a harsh and sordid story that is still not talked about in detail enough. During the Selma marches and the political upheaval at the time things did get bloody, that’s a fact which you are very right about. However Branham’s passiveness toward the racial injustices still going on does not speak of a man who was “liberal for his day”. A man who was truly liberal for his day would not be comfortable witnessing black citizen after black citizen bleed to death in hospitals because the white doctors and nurses wouldn’t treat them. Be forced to work menial blue collar jobs because federally they were considered 3/5th’s of a human being. Be beaten in the streets, sprayed by fire hoses, given the death penalty for crimes they didn’t commit, on a regular basis for the crime of being born black. This was happening BEFORE the freedom marches. It’s one thing to be a slave, it’s another when seeing a group of white men heading toward you in the streets was most likely a death sentence that could happen at any time. So, excuse me for having not leaping for joy at the prospect of a man who said on record the existence of the black civilian is only worth fighting for if they’re slaves. Black people were and in many areas still are slaves to a system that does nothing but build wealth on their bones. I’d like to hear your rebuttal for that.
3) While you’re absolutely correct in the fact Klan members in the state of Indiana were frequent and it would have been nearly impossible to function as a resident of the state without intersecting with Klan members at some point; Branham’s alleged ties to known members are slightly too uncanny to be just pure circumstance. While I have a hard time believing that Branham was some KKK double agent pretending to be a preacher while planning the assassination of a president (let’s be real, the man probably did not have the intellect or feasible motive to pull off such a stunt), I also have a hard time believing that he did not dabble in their ideology in any way whatsoever. Now my next and final argument is quite lengthy, and I will split it up into two sections. Please bear with me.
3.a) Branham did not have a formal education. That is common knowledge. He did not attend a bible school or obtain a theological education at a university level that would have potentially exposed him to obscure biblical theories and ideologies. The serpent seed doctrine at the time was, and is still, not common knowledge. As well as the fact that it was not a new concept. It first appeared in early Gnostic scripture in the Book of Phillip, which is also included in the Apocrypha. (Just for the record, the fact that Branham was teaching a doctrine that stems from the Apocrypha should be in and of itself, enough to make you think heavily). Although he refurbished and re-branded the most central doctrine of Klan members and Neo Nazi’s alike; I think it’s worth asking yourself where you think he first heard the concept from. I am going to assume that you believe Branham’s knowledge of this concept was revealed by God. Okay. Let’s run along that trail. God. Guided his chosen children to write The Bible. The Bible being God’s gospel of truth and righteousness. If everything written in The Bible is true, and Branham’s revelation of what actually happened in Eden came from a truthful and righteous God than by default, Branham’s revelations should not, by logistical standard, contradict the biblical accounts in any way. If this is incorrect than we are all wasting our time. You are trying to prove to the entire world against the harshness of critics that Branham’s ministry corresponds with The Bible and together, both elements are harmonious. Yes? Alright.
So. Serpent Seed. The serpent and Eve had creepy beastiality sex and she became pregnant with Cain. Adam, after watching this also engaged in sexual activity with Eve and impregnated her as well. This zygote becomes Abel. Now she’s got two sperms of differing biological species swimming around her overies and somehow manages to not only become pregnant twice, but give birth to a cross bred animal-human hybrid and have it survive beyond early infancy. For the sake of time I’m actually going to stifle the biologist in me and pretend that this is plausible within the parameters of basic logic. Time goes on, the human population grows and grows and along with it, genetic diversity. Blacks, Whites, Browns, Asians, Hispanics; the planets got it all. However swimming in a some peoples genetic buildup are the genes of Satan…? I’m going to go along with it. Okay. Those who had the misfortune of being born from the seedline of Cain, according to Branham, are Serpent Seed. These serpent seedlings are doomed for hell and to bring sin and havoc to earth. If I understand this correctly, you are endorsing Branham’s belief that salvation through Christ is actually determined by your genetic buildup. The genetic buildup that you believe God hand crafted in agape love for every human being with the hope that they come to love and follow him. I am sorry if I sound unrevelated but…does this make any sense? If I am a believer but my biological children are not, then how do they somehow possess a gene that I myself do not possess? This is a common scenario in message churches and I doubt you’re callus enough to try and argue that these individuals must also be serpent seed if their family members appear to be. I’m also not going to give you a middle school level lesson on genetics and cell division as I do not perceive you to be an idiot. I think you can see where I am getting at.
We’re going to keep at this though.
Assuming this is the case, we now encounter a bit of an issue with The Bible. In particular, the book of Genesis 4:17 where it details rather plainly that Cain and his wife gave birth to a lovely boy named Enoch. Enoch, one of God’s treasured followers. The first biblical account of a rapture. So. If Cain was Satan’s child and all offspring from him are doomed to be hellions on earth, than why was Enoch a diligent and aptly rewarded follower of God? By Branham’s doctrine, logistically, he could not be. So either Branham’s revelation did not come from God or God/Moses lied about the conditions of Enoch’s birth when the book of Geneis was being written. My question is, whose word do you hold in higher esteem? On this element alone they clearly are not harmonious so one of them needs to be heavily re-thunk.
3.b) This brings me allllll the way back to my earlier question of ‘where did Branham encounter this doctrine then?’. If you continue to say it is of God, then by biblical standard you are actually committing heresy against the Holy Ghost so approach this cautiously. If you have arrived to the conclusion that maaaaaybe the serpent seed ideology has major blasphemy potential; then where’d Branham encounter the doctrine in the first place in order to restructure and preach it to his congregation? Not a Bible school. Not a University. Not even a High school. There weren’t hoards of books on this topic at your local run-of-the-mill book store or library. And I highly doubt Branham was poring over the Apocrypha in his spare time. What he was doing before his ministry took off was attending the church of Roy Elonza Davis. I’m not going to waste your time and detail who this man is as I’m quite sure you are well aware. This man was heavily involved with the Klan, as was the Imperial Grand Wizard at the time and United State House Representative of Georgia, William Upshaw. Upshaw rather famously endorsed Branham’s ministry to congress after his alleged healing during one of Branham’s tent revivals in 1951. Second of all, Branham was not shy to condemn his father over the pulpit for making a living brewing moonshine and running a speakeasy. For a boy who did not grow up with a strict religious background that condemned alcohol, why was he so against his fathers lucrative career? Sure, it could be that he hated watching men and women schmooze each other under the influence, or that God told him early to never drink or smoke, however you want to justify it. I do think it’s worth considering that the KKK was the government’s main mechanism for regulating prohibition laws. The Klan’s reasoning behind their strong support for prohibition was their racially fueled distaste for catholic immigrants. Italian, Hispanic, etc, immigrants would arrive to the United States, introduce their foreign drinking habits, and (to the perception of Klan members) bring lawlessness and criminal behavior under the influence of booze that went against the framework of a ‘true American’. (Which was a middle class white protestant citizen born on U.S. soil in case you are unaware). All I’m saying is that Branham’s upbringing leads no traceable trail toward him become the catholic condemning, alcohol hating preacher he was known to be. It’s rather possible that with his home state teeming with Klan members he became subject to the infusion of their ideologies in his social conditioning outside of his parents home. And this social conditioning made it’s way into the framework of his ministry. Now this is a rather basic theory, and I find it to be too likely to be ignored.

Thank you so much for taking the time to consider my observations regarding your article. A response of any sort would be very much appreciated! If you fail to respond I will go ahead and assume you are too biased to actually read/consider all of my words or that you did and have no response, and that I am most definitely on to something. Thank you for taking the time to research and attempt to set minds at ease in regard to who William Branham was and what he stood for. Regardless of whether or not it was effective I do commend you for your effort.

Best
Salome