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
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.