Was William Branham a secret member of the KKK?

Most followers of William Branham and his teachings laugh when they hear this allegation. But because it has appeared on the internet, we will tackle it here. At the wildest end of this allegation, it is even alleged that Bro. Branham had a role in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. We debunk that allegation in another article. Critics go on to allege Bro. Branham was opposed to equal rights for African Americans, which we also debunk in another article.

Debunked by other critics

One of Bro. Branham’s many critics, Suzanne Calulu, actually debunks this claim quite well, and we will include an except here.[1]

It has been rumored that some of William Branham’s unsavory doctrines stemmed from a personal connection with the Ku Klux Klan. Such rumors are based on a misreading of Branham’s central doctrine, the Serpent’s Seed. According to the doctrine, Eve had sexual intercourse with an upright mammalian“serpent” and produced Cain, the son of Satan, followed by Abel and later Seth,the sons of Adam and therefore God. The belief that these two “bloodlines” are visible in today’s racial categories (especially black, Jewish and white) and that the black or Jewish race is the seed of Satan is sometimes attributed to Branham as a result of his highly physical reading of the Fall in Genesis. The rumor does not, however, have a basis in historical evidence.

I have been unable to find any association between William Branham and the KKK other than his claim that a woman named Mrs. Roeder obtained money from the Klan in order to help pay for his hospital bills when he was injured in a shotgun accident as a teenager [1923]. This passage comes from the sermon “Souls That Are in Prison Now” (November 10, 1963)

Branham disavowed the racism that others read into the Serpent’s Seed. Since it was antithetical to his belief system that a person could judge the presence of the Holy Spirit (or who was the Bride of Christ) by actions like speaking in tongues, it seems all the more ridiculous to think that Branham would have espoused a doctrine that made such judgments on the basis of skin color. Moreover, Branham’s claim to be the last church age messenger to all people except the Jews motivated him to be racially inclusive.He was making a universal claim to the Truth, which would have been seriously damaged by white supremacist activity. Moreover, he deeply respected the Azusa Street pentecostal revival of 1906, which was led by the black minister William Seymour.While none of this is as satisfying as an outspoken condemnation of the Klan would have been, it presents a picture of disinclination to white supremacist activity that, coupled with the total absence of evidence, suffices to make Branham’s association with the KKK very unlikely.

There are more productive points of criticism to be made against Branham, the Message, and the Serpent’s Seed in particular, than the false allegation that Branham was a white supremacist. Let’s be circumspect in our judgments. Like most of his generation, he can be accused of racial insensitivity and ignorance, and even a blind, patronizing “benevolent” racism.However, Branham has never been authoritatively tied to Klan activities, and propagating such a rumor only distracts from the real issues with the Message.


Suzanne Calulu
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/phoenixandolivebranch/2010/11/mythbusting-the-message-the-ku-klux-klan/#l4vltDd7gmssjkcS.99

How was the KKK viewed in 1920s Indiana?

During the 1920s, Bro. Branham’s home state of Indiana was dominated by the KKK more so than any other State in the United States. The majority of state office holders were Klan members. In fact, the KKK was so widely accepted that there was a state sponsored KKK Day held at the Indiana State Fair, complete with a night time cross burning. A Klan rally in Kokomo drew 100,000 attendees in the same period. Close to half of all white men in Indiana where Klan members during this time frame. It would be nearly impossible for Bro. Branham, or anyone in Indiana, to not have some interactions with the KKK during that period.[2]

Indiana’s KKK of the 1920s is distinct from the KKK started by Nathan Bedford Forrest in the 1870s, and from the modern KKK which is primarily a neo-Nazi organization. These are not the same organizations, which is a point many fail to realize. The Indiana KKK of the 1920s was primarily anti-immigration, white supremacist, anti-Catholic, and prohibitionist. Their emphasis in Indiana was on their anti-Catholic and prohibitionist character. Their only widely implemented legislative success was to ban and limit Catholic parochial education through state laws, and the enforcement of prohibition. They generally promoted themselves as a charitable institution that supported societal morality. They carried out floggings against men accused of spousal abuse, drunkenness, or laziness. They carried out vigilante justice against criminals. They were closely aligned with the anti-Salon League and regularly broke up illicit bars, saloons, and moon shining operations.  Their charitable wing supported local hospitals, widows, orphans, and the poor. During the high point of their influence, they were viewed primarily as a means to enforce morality, and over one million people in Indiana were members.

Grand Dragon D. C. Stephenson
Grand Dragon D. C. Stephenson

While many people in the KKK at that time had some positive goals in mind, their leadership was evil. In 1927, their leader D.C. Stephenson was found to be a cannibalistic rapist and murder after it was discovered he had raped an ate parts of a young Indianapolis woman who subsequently committed suicide. The organization, which had built itself on being a source of morality fell apart in the aftermath and numerous KKK leaders ended up in jail. [3]

The revelation of Stephenson’s true nature and the fallout were sensational news on a national scale and stayed in major newspapers until 1930. Everyone in Indiana remembered Stephenson at the time of Bro. Branham’s conversion and popularity. Stephenson’s infamy was on a national scale. For Bro. Branham to embraced the KKK in the aftermath of the scandal would have destroyed his ministry. The KKK had proven itself to the be the very antithesis of Christianity.

The KKK of Muncie Indiana, 1922

As we have so far demonstrated, the KKK in Indiana during the 1920s was a massive organization with over a million members. In those days everyone in Indiana had some interaction with the KKK because of how large the organization was and how deeply embedded into society it was. In that time, everyone from the governor, to senators, to garbage collectors had connections to the KKK. Every prominent person in Indiana in that time had some relationship to the KKK. Given that fact, it is not a surprise that someone could connect Bro. Branham’s acquaintances during that time to the KKK. The real question here is whether these KKK influences in Bro. Branham’s early life caused him to be a white supremacist, or led him to accept and support KKK ideology. The answer is an emphatic no, as we will outline in the next sections.

What did Bro. Branham say?

Bro. Branham made many statements about race. Here is a statement he made in 1947, over a decade before American Civil Rights movement began to gain popular support.

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.

The Children of Israel, preached in Phoenix, AZ, Nov. 23, 1947

The truth of the matter is that Bro. Branham was in favor of equal rights before it was popular to be in favor of equal rights. 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

Do Bro. Branham’s followers think he was a White Supremacist?

The majority of Bro. Branham’s worldwide followers are people of color. This is likely part of John Collin’s motivation to paint Bro. Branham as a racist.

Bro. Branham’s teachings encourage unity and equality among all Christians. His doctrines and beliefs are not viewed as racist by people of color in the Branham movement. If Bro. Branham was indeed ever a participant with or influenced by the KKK, clearly that influence was ultimately rejected and came to play no significant role his ideology or teachings. Bro. Branham rejected KKK ideology, just like the majority of people in Indiana rejected the KKK when the truth of its leader was exposed.

Was Bro. Branham’s views of Catholism a result of the KKK?

Harpers Weekly cartoon from 1875 depicting Catholic Bishops as crocodiles attempting to eat young school children.

It may be argued that Bro. Branham’s anti-catholic positions were influenced by the KKK. However that would be mistaken logic. In fact, the reverse is true. The KKK’s anti-Catholic stance was influenced by American Protestantism, whose anti-Catholic views pre-dated the KKK by centuries.[5]

The anti-catholic positions of the KKK in 1920s was the result of the rhetoric of classical American Protestantism.1 Bro. Branham was no more anti-Catholic than the protestants of the preceding generations.

The Roy Davis Connection

Roy Davis was the pastor of the First Pentecostal Baptist Church of Jeffersonville Indiana. This is the church where Bro. Branham was converted to Christianity and was ordained as a minister in 1930. It is alleged by some critics that the same Roy Davis was secretly a KKK member who in the 1960s became Imperial Wizard of one branch of the KKK.

We do not dispute this claim, but we have not found any authoritative source, historian, or expert to review the evidence and confirm the validity of the claim. It is not perfectly clear to us that the pastor of Pentecostal Baptist Church is the same Roy Davis as the Imperial Wizard. There were over one hundred people named “Roy Davis” in the United States during the 1930s according to census records. This could be merely a coincidence of names. But we will, for the sake of this article, assume the allegation against Roy Davis is true.

As we have already stated, it would have been nearly impossible for Bro. Branham to have had no contact with KKK members, as over one million people in Indiana were Klan members during Bro. Branham’s adolescence and early adulthood, and the KKK was deeply embedded into Indiana society at the time. While we do not dispute Davis’s connections to the KKK, we do however question whether this means Bro. Branham was a KKK member himself, or if he was influenced by their racist agenda.

Problems with the Roy Davis connection

They had contact for less than 3 years

There was a very short period of time in which Bro. Branham had association with Davis; mid-1930 until mid-1933. In 1933 Bro. Branham started his own church, and Davis appears to have left Indiana for good. There is no evidence that Davis and Bro. Branham had any personal contact for the remainder of their lives. All claims by critics that there was contact post-1933 is entirely circumstantial. The last documented contact between the two men occurred in 1933. (Bro. Branham lived until 1965)

No evidence of KKK activity during that period

There is no evidence that Davis was engaged in KKK activities from 1930-1933. If he was a KKK member, he was likely hoping to avoid detection in the aftermath the KKK scandal that had just unfolded in Indiana and was laying low.

Did Bro. Branham join the KKK during its worst PR crisis in history?

In 1930, at the time of Bro. Branham’s conversion, D.C. Stephenson, the recently discovered cannibalistic rapist who led the Indiana KKK was still heavily in the memory of society. Not only was Klan recruitment failing to gain new membership, the KKK had hit rock bottom. To accept that Bro. Branham was recruited to the KKK in this time, we have to assume that Bro. Branham was recruited to the KKK during the worst period or public relations for the KKK in it’s history. We also have to believe that Davis was recruiting new members during a period when Klansman where being arrested across the state and many leading Klan figures were going into hiding. This does fit our knowledge of the historical records of the time and seems highly unlikely.

Article by Roy Davis printed in Voice of Healing Magazine

Bro. Branham openly disagreed with Davis’s beliefs

Bro. Branham indicated at multiple times that he had personal disagreements with Davis over his doctrines and beliefs. He referred to Davis as someone who was “legalistic” in his view of the scripture, and as someone who condemned and discouraged him from using the gifts of the spirit. Bro. Branham also stated that Davis had rejected him after his conversion. As confirmation of their differences, Davis likewise stated he had disagreements with Bro. Branham, and said that the two men were not of the same mind on matters of Christianity in the article he wrote for the Voice of Healing magazine. Davis says he found Branham’s beliefs “useless and irrational.” 

In an October 6, 1957 sermon, Bro Branham briefly opened up about the racism he discovered and rejected at the church where he was converted to Christianity. In so doing, he both acknowledged that there was racism in the First Pentecostal Baptist Church where Davis was pastor, and clearly explained how he rejected it.

Davis and Branham both openly stated they had disagreements over beleifs

The statements made by both Davis and Branham concerning each other all add up to a picture of two men who had significant disagreements. Branham and Davis were part of the same church for less than three years. If Davis was a KKK member at the time, he may have discussed his ideas with Bro. Branham, but all evidence points to the fact that Bro. Branham rejected Davis’s racist ideology.

Davis’s article in Voice of Healing magazine was an attempt to apologize to Bro. Branham. Davis went on to try and use Bro. Branham’s fame to advance himself and advertise his own ministry. You can read the article by enlarging the image of it above.

Davis and his conspirators went to jail, why didn’t Bro. Branham?

John Collins alleges that Bro. Branham was involved in Roy Davis’s crimes. Davis was a swindler involved in defrauding people. Collins alleges that Bro. Branham was involved in his crimes with only theories and no evidence. It is true Davis and his brothers did indeed get into criminal trouble with local authorities for their activities in 1932 and 1933. Could those very criminal activities explain the reason Bro. Branham broke fellowship with him? If Bro. Branham was involved with Davis in crime, how did he escape charges? There were multiple victims who exposed Davis and his accomplices. None of them implicated Bro. Branham. An honest look at the evidence seems to suggest Bro. Branham could have just as easily been one of Davis’s victims rather than his accomplice. The critics are not looking at the evidence fairly.

Bro Branham supported integration

See also our article on William Branham and Civil Rights

Bro. Branham openly supported racial integration. Does that sound like a white supremacist?

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

The local newspapers outed KKK members. Why didn’t they mention Bro. Branham?

In the mid and late 1920s, the Jeffersonville newspapers began publishing the names of Klan members and outing them. Their outings were in reaction to the revelations that D.C. Stephenson was a cannibalistic rapist and murderer. Law enforcement officers, elected officials, businessmen, and clergy were all outed during that time. Neither Bro. Branham nor anyone in his family was outed. As we will show next, there is a smoking gun to show that the Branham family was incompatible with the KKK of Indiana.

The fatal flaw in the KKK allegation

Bro. Branham’s father was a moonshiner

The KKK of the 1920s was virulently prohibitionist, especially so in Indiana and the Midwestern United States. 2 Prohibition was the period from 1919 through 1933 in which the production and sale of liquor was illegal in the entire United States. The KKK was a champion of the cause to ban liquor and many of their vigilante activities revolved around punishing violators of prohibition. The KKK acted in coordination with the Anti-Saloon League to enforce such actions.3 

Bro. Branham’s father was involved in the Walthan Ring of moonshiners. These men supplied liquor to Al Capone’s criminal empire based in Chicago. This matches Bro. Branham’s own account of his father’s activity with moonshine. John Collins alleges that there was a connection between these moonshiners, Roy Davis, the KKK, and Bro. Branham. How could this be? The KKK would have destroyed the moonshine operation if they knew it existed; they would never have endorsed or supported it. In fact, the Branham family would have been the target of floggings by the KKK for their immoral activity!

John Collins has unearthed newspaper articles showing that Charles Branham (Bro. Branham’s father) had his moonshining operations targeted by the KKK in the 1920s and destroyed, and Charles Branham was arrested as a result.

John Collins is taking advantage of people’s lack of knowledge of the past to make ridiculous accusations which are demonstrably wrong. Bro. Branham’s family were targets of the KKK!

Serpent Seed

Circumstantial evidence

Jeremy Bergen and Rod Bergen on their website claim that Bro. Branham was taught the doctrine of the serpent seed by Roy Davis. Their rationale is often reasoned and principled, as it is on this topic. But ultimately their conclusions are based on circumstantial evidence.

Did Roy Davis believe serpent seed?

First, there is no direct evidence that Davis believed in Serpent Seed doctrine. The Bergens assume that if Davis was a KKK member, he must have adhered to Christian Identity theology. While plausible, it is not proven.

Serpent Seed doctrine is distinct from Christian Identity Theology

Secondly, the version of Serpent Seed taught by Bro. Branham differs significantly from the views of Christian Identify theology in multiple key points.

  1. Bro. Branham never made any racial connection to the doctrine; he taught the doctrine to his own multi-racial congregation.
  2. He believed and taught that both blacks and Jews would be saved and be part of the heavenly kingdom, which is entirely incompatible to the Christian Identity theology.
  3. Thirdly, Bro. Branham accuses educated white people as being the seed of the serpent. Not racial minorities. This completely undermines Christian Identity Theology’s teachings.

Bro. Branham’s teaching of Serpent Seed could be described as a reverse form of Christian Identify Theology, in which he accuses the people who invented Christian Identity Theology of themselves being the seed of the serpent, and the poor people they targeted as being the elect of God.

Bro. Branham openly rejected Christian Identity Theology

In a 1957 sermon Bro. Branham stated that he knew of the KKK’s Christian Identity Theology, and he openly rejected it. No doubt the message he preached less than a year later on the serpent seed was partially his attempt to show how his own belief differed from the Christian Identity Theology, and to demonstrate Christian Identity Theology’s flaws.

Bro. Branham also plainly said that he learned of the Christian Identity Theology from George DeArk, not Roy Davis.

Now, it’s been said, And I hope that my colored friends that’s in here will excuse this remark, because it’s absolutely not right. The first time I ever met anyone in my life, after I’d been converted… I was–met Brother George DeArk and them down there [at the First Pentecostal Baptist Church where Roy Davis was pastor]. And I was walked, and the Lord led me to a little place. And they was discussing where the colored man came from. And they were trying to say that the colored man, that Cain married an animal like an ape, and through there come forth the colored race. Now, that’s wrong. Absolutely, that’s wrong. And don’t never stand for that. ‘Cause there was no colored or white, or any other different; it was just one race of people unto the flood. Then after the flood and the tower of Babel, when they begin to scatter out, that’s when they taken their colors and so forth. They’re all come from the same tree. That’s exactly right. Adam and Eve was the father and mother, earthly, of every living creature of human beings that’s ever been on the earth. 

William Branham, 57-1006 

Guilt by association

1807 British cartoon showing the King attacking Catholics

Ultimately, this allegation against Bro. Branham is an attempt to prove guilt by association. There is no evidence whatsoever that Bro. Branham was a racist or white supremacist or ever engaged in any KKK activities. Bro. Branham was no more anti-Catholic than Martin Luther or the King of England. He was more favorable to Jews than the majority of Protestant Christianity of the time, and certainly more so than historical Christianity. His meetings were consistently interracial and consisted of both black and white ministers and congregants. He traveled to India, Africa and Mexico and preached to many people of color with the same passion as he preached to anyone.

Bro. Branham may have been ignorant to Davis’s KKK background in 1930. Certainly by 1933 he had separated from Davis, perhaps because he had discovered the truth about him. Bro. Branham clearly and openly rejected racism and Christian Identity Theology multiple times.

How did these allegations get into an academic journal?

John Collins has cleverly chosen to publish this material alleging Bro. Branham was secretly involved with the KKK in an academic journal that does not peer review its content, allowing him wide latitude to advance his conspiracy theories. The assertions he makes speak poorly about the fact checking department and quality of peer reviews being done by San Diego State University. They should be more careful about what they allow to be published under their authority.

Are there any reputable third parties who have anything to say on this topic?

Fortunately there are. Patsy Sims is an acclaimed author who has wrote multiple books and did extensive research into the KKK. Her 1978 book “The Klan” is required reading for Klan researchers and is still considered by critics to be one of the best books ever wrote on the KKK. Fortunately for us, she has also researched and wrote extensively on the healing revivals which Bro. Branham led. She is an outside expert on both the KKK and the healing revival! Here is an excerpt from her 1996 book entitled “Can Somebody Shout Amen!: Inside the Tents and Tabernacles of American Revivalists.” Unlike the critics’ publications which make these wild allegations, her book was actually peer reviewed by other academics and reputably published by University of Kentucky. She is in no way affiliated with the Branham movement.

Tonight, most the three thousand chairs were taken, although few in the audience – other than those confined to wheelchairs – remained seated very long, constantly jumping to their feet to applaud, whirl, dance, sometimes singly to an inner music in a private moment with God; at other times as a group their hands raised, swaying. At least a third of the people were black, a racial melange I found surprising in an area where many whites still took pride in the Rebel flag and a redneck heritage, and an area where five years earlier I had interviewed Ku Klux Klansmen and attended rallies where they too invoked the name of God sang “The Old Rugged Cross” with a fervor that equaled tonight’s singing of “Power in the Blood.” In the midst of the interracial hugging and touching and outpouring of love, I studied the faces of folks who station in life was no different from that of the ones I had met at those Klan rallies who I felt certain, were related by blood as well as by social and economic circumstances. Why, I wondered, in their feelings of isolation and alienation from mainstream society, had some turned to the Klan, others to religion? 

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

Wikipedia, the free internet encyclopedia has the following paragraph in the biography of William Branham.

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

KKK was known to disrupt the revival meetings

Patsy Sim, in her same book on the healing revivals, goes on to elaborate how the evangelists of the healing revival actually had to remain on the lookout for the Klan who were known to disrupt their interracial meetings. If Bro. Branham was a member and a supporter of the KKK, why did he need to worry about them disrupting his meetings?

Before passage of the Civil Rights Act … the revivalists had to separate the races, label the Port-o-Johns “colored” and “white,” and be on the alert for the Klan.

Sims, Patsy (1996). Can Somebody Shout Amen!: Inside the Tents and Tabernacles of American Revivalists. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0813108865. p. 78

Does anyone who knew Bro. Branham say he was a Klan member?

No! At the last update of this section (2019) there are still living people in the Jeffersonville area and other message churches who knew Bro Branham as early as the late 1930s. Close friends and acquaintances of William Branham, who have lived devoted Christian lives, including some who were not part of the message, are still alive and can be asked questions. There is still even one man living who worked with Bro. Branham at the Public Service Company of Indiana in the early 1940s. Close friends and associated confidantes, including hunting buddies of Bro. Branham all unanimously laugh off these accusations, as do the editors of this website. Bro. Branham clearly did not accept, believe, or promote the beliefs of the Klu Klux Klan.

[1]http://www.patheos.com/blogs/phoenixandolivebranch/2010/11/mythbusting-the-message-the-ku-klux-klan/

[2] Lutholtz, M. William (1993). Grand Dragon: D. C. Stephenson and the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana. West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University 

[3]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indiana_Klan

[4]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Jones

[5]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Catholicism_in_the_United_States

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/12/america-history-of-hating-catholics
  2. https://www.alcoholproblemsandsolutions.org/the-kkk-supported-prohibition/
  3. https://www.jstor.org/stable/25144510?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of