"Nathan Bedford Forrest Statue" by Lisa M Friedrichs / CC BY-SA 4.0

Alabama politician resigns as a Southern Baptist pastor after KKK leader’s birthday celebration

Jul 31, 2020

By Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Alabama state Rep. Will Dismukes (R) said this week that he has no plans to resign from his state legislator position amid national calls for him to step down after he attended a private celebration of the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. On Wednesday night, however, he resigned from his job as a Southern Baptist pastor of a rural church.

The national uproar began after Dismukes posted on Facebook that he took part in a celebration of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest the same weekend as ceremonies honoring the life of civil rights leader and congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.) in Alabama. Lewis, who died this month at age 80, had led protesters in a march decades ago across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on “Bloody Sunday” in Selma.

Dismukes, who represents Prattville, gave the invocation July 25 at an annual birthday party for Forrest at a place called Fort Dixie in Selma. Dismukes’s Facebook post was later removed.

The controversy puts the spotlight on how leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention handle issues of racial discrimination when its churches are autonomous. Dismukes’s resignation from Pleasant Hill Baptist Church took place after local Southern Baptist leaders met with him Tuesday.

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