Monday, February 9, 2009

Former KKK Member Reconciles with Black Senator

by Rob


Both Senator John Louis and Elwin Wilson were political activists in the early days of the civil rights movement. Elwin Wilson was a KKK member who had attacked Louis in the past during civil rights demonstrations.

Wilson sought out the Senator to apologize for his actions and when questioned why he pursued this reconciliation now, he mentioned that someone asked him where he thought he would be going after he died and he figured it would be Hell. Senator Louis noted that this meeting testified to the power of love and grace.

This is just one more example that shows that there are religious concerns that have instigated racial reconciliation.


kateb said...

What a wonderful testimony this is to God's grace and his infinite patience.

Even a KKK member could be saved. Unbelievable....

Thanks for sharing Rob. Very good news.

Jeanette said...

This happened in the town where I now live. I was born and raised in the north and never experienced first-hand segregation.

That bus station is gone now, but it was just across the street from First Baptist Church, the church of which I am now a member. It has relocated and we never went to the old building. It was sold to a black congregation and I bet the paint rocks when they start singing.

Rep. Lewis is a true inspiration and seeing this man (I bet I know a man who knows him) and reconciling after all these years is heart-warming to say the least.

Thank you for sharing this.

Joshua said...

This isn't a testimony to religion helping much at all. Wilson is old and would die soon anyways. If the best reason he has to apologize to someone is the fear of hell then that doesn't make him a good person. It makes him a coward. Religion has helped in the fight against discrimination and racism but this isn't an example of actual help, just intimidation.

Barb said...

Welcome, Joshua. On the contrary, this man's need to reconcile with an old enemy IS a testament to the good of religious influence on his life. He knew he was wrong --how did he know? Since his time in KKK, he has figured out that hatred and thinking his race to be better than others is a sin for which he needed to repent and have God's forgiveness.

He felt accountable to a God of love and righteousness who demands repentance for sin in order to gain Heaven--and avoid Hell. which he now believes in because of religious teachings. And I'm sure he knows that it isn't just the action of repentance that he needed to show with a gesture toward the black senator; he knows it's a matter of the heart, and I bet all feelings of hatred and superiority have been taken from this man who obeyed God by asking forgiveness of the senator.

Religion is indeed VERY influential on our convictions and our actions. Consider the radical Muslim who beheads people thinking Allah will be pleased. Some religions encourage hatred (radical islam can be likened to the "christianity" of the KKK which condoned lynchings.) No religion at all gives one no reason to reject hatred. Look at your atheistic blogs and how hateful the people are --even at Pharyngula --from where you linked to here, perhaps???

Anonymous said...

I read this story in Stars and Stripes. It IS a good story and you can chalk one up for the Lord and religion.

However, many people, and I include myself, often question the motives of those who convert their behavior based on fear of eternal damnation.

I always read "fear of the Lord" more as RESPECT, but isn't fear of punishment something else? Does acting like a good because you're afraid of punishment make you a good person?

This man had his entire life to change and he waited until a trip to hell became an inevitable reality due to his age.

If fear of eternal hellfire is what it takes to keep someone in line -- fantastic. I know that person will ultimately be judged by what is in their heart, which no man can see.

But to us mere mortals -- well, it sometimes makes us suspicious.

God's forgiveness stands ready for you at all times, you have to but open your heart. I ultimately believe this man has, but I'd feel naive if I didn't wonder.

I guess I've seen too many people do unspeakable evil that I think some people are so full of hate they will never change -- not that God cannot save them, but that they will never let him in.

Your ever loving cousin, in Iraq.

PS: Stories about Grandma make the best posts.

Barb said...

Hello, Nephew! I just talked with your dad today who said he talked with you last night. We look forward to seeing you again.

About the fear of the Lord --which "is the beginning of wisdom":

I think of it as meaning "respect" also --but I also think about what it means to train a child and know that there is a proper "fear" of authority, parental or otherwise, that is ALSO the beginning of wisdom. I know I learned that I didn't want to experience parental wrath as a child--and had I not experienced it ever, I'm not sure I would know what that was like enough to do my parents' bidding instead of my own. Because all of us are willful and selfish creatures, even as children.

YOu see it in working with kids, that some lack awe/respect/fear of adult authority. and today, without the paddle in the principal's office, some kids NEVER develop that respect.

Whether it's fear of wrath or fear of punishment, most children do learn obedience from a negative deterrent. The eternal equivalent would be Hellfire--or even just missing out on Heaven and eternal life. that's not to say that some children don't just want to please parents --or God --out of the loving relationship--but that parent has usually set boundaries in such a way that the child has respect for authority and a bit of fear of crossing that authority--whether the child remembers the negativity of the deterrents to disobedience or not.

I think most of us (who believe in God and know anything about Him from scripture )don't think we can fool Him into thinking we are sincere in pretense. We know He knows our hearts. We know that insincere repentance, and faked love and faked forgiveness aren't going to impress Him.

I think it actually TAKES a "changed heart" and a sense of humbleness/humility to apologize and say, "I was wrong." Many go to their graves never having admitted with any remorse that they sinned.

I think it takes some holy courage today to admit with repentance that one belonged to the KKK! And the fear of dying and going to Hell may actually embolden one to do what he always knew he needed to do --though apology is always difficult and he put it off until old age. It's important to set things right as soon as we can, because we may not have time to lollygag!

Aunt B.

Rob R said...

Hoy Dave,

Thank you for your thoughts on this.

In evangelical circles, I've heard many have commented that a fear of damnation may get one saved, but it alone won't lead to a very mature faith. And the nature of judgement as described in scriptures is an area of legitimate debate as to whether it is actually like eternal torture or if the soul is destroyed such that the person ceases to exist. It seems to me that the best interpretation is eternal separation from God's sustenance which results in torment, but my mind isn't closed on that subject.

While this man did mention the fear of hell as influential in his repentance, There very well may be more to it his story. He had a friend who pushed the point to him, but there is no doubt more to that friendship than just that one hellfire conversation.

People are complex and the message of Jesus has the complexity to match the human heart.

Of course I pointed this story out as an illustration of the positive effects of religion since several people we've got blogging connections to are cynical about religion (and Christianity in particular) and it's effects.