Saturday, May 09, 2015

Court Street United Methodist Church Scheduled to host Children of the Confederacy in Lynchburg, Virginia

The Children of the Confederacy (CofC) is a group run by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) to teach children that the Confederacy and its leaders were glorious.
They have an annual convention. The next is scheduled in Lynchburg, Virginia.
The Court Street United Methodist Church is scheduled to host the CofC Thursday, July 16, 2015 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm.
I am looking for someone in the area to help me in convincing them not to host. I think that if they knew that it was likely to come to the public's attention they would probably dis-invite the CofC.
I wrote them this certified letter:
April 25, 2015
Rev. Dr. Mark A. Tinsley
Court Street United Methodist Church
621 Court Street
Lynchburg, VA 24504

Dear Rev. Dr. Tinsley:

I am an investigative researcher of the neo-Confederate movement. I am published internationally in peer reviewed academic journals and by university presses as well as in Black Commentator. I enclose a copy of my online curriculum vitae which is also available at

Recently I had a byline for an article at Politico,

I am writing regarding your hosting the Children of the Confederacy 61st Annual General Convention memorial event on Thursday, July 16, 2015. This is an organization run by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) to indoctrinate young people that the Confederacy was glorious and not that it was an effort to perpetuate slavery and white supremacy. I enclose documentation that your church is chosen for this event.
Please find enclosed an article from the Richmond Free Press regarding churches hosting the 2014 UDC National Convention in Richmond, Virginia. In the article is the account of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church deciding that even though they have hosted the UDC eight times since 1994, they disinvited the UDC in 2014 and will not be hosting them in the future. This is the church that was attended by Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. The article is online at

The United Methodist Church is the denomination 2nd most frequently hosting UDC national convention events and the only Methodist denomination hosting UDC national events. The African Methodist Episcopal Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and the Christian Methodist Church have not hosted since 1990 a single national convention of even of the UDC or the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV). In fact I haven’t run across these other three denominations ever hosting a neo-Confederate event of any type at any time. I enclose two bargraphs of denomination hosting mentioned.. You can see these bargraphs online at

This is somewhat surprising that the United Methodist Church hosts any neo-Confederate groups given that John Wesley was an abolitionist.

Given that it may well be that the Episcopal Church is going to stop hosting neo-Confederates, the United Methodist Church runs a risk of going forward starting in 2013 of becoming one of the leading denominations hosting neo-Confederate groups.
One concern I have developed in investigating neo-Confederate groups is how they are enabled by mainstream organizations such as corporations, churches, government bodies and others. So I have decided to ask these groups to reconsider their relations with specific neo-Confederate groups. It is all well and good that I have written on extremist Confederate Christian nationalist for the Canadian Review of American Studies. (, but I have realized that the enabling of a racist historical consciousness in the general public and racist neo-Confederate groups by mainstream churches is as detrimental to America as these fringe churches.

The UDC has a lengthy history of supporting white supremacy going back to the early 20th century shortly after they had finished organizing. You can see many primary documents regarding their racism and use the search term “daughters.”

However, their racism is not confined to the past. This is an organization that currently runs a Red Shirt Shrine to glorify a violent white supremacist group in 19th century South Carolina and of which they are proud of as documented in the June/July 2001 UDC Magazine article, pages 23, 24, and the cover of their magazine. In an article in the Dec. 2012 UDC Magazine, pages 11-14, is an appalling racist article in which the infamous post-Civil War Black Codes of the former Confederate states are defended, African American men are represented have been potential rapists, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution is argued to be misguided, freed African Americans are asserted to have been incompetent to be citizens. The article asserts, “Newly liberated Negroes were not prepared for their freedom…” In a Nov. 2007, UDC Magazine article, page 15 article the pro-KKK book “Southern By the Grace of God,” is recommended as a “treasure” to be given to members’ children. These are but three contemporary examples of the UDC’s racism. Documentation enclosed.

The British academic, Michael Billig in his landmark book, “Banal Nationalism,” discusses the fact that the discussion of nationalism usually revolves around extremists to the exclusion of seeing the banal nationalism in everyday life. Billig contrasts the focus of the usual analyst of nationalism to the analyst of banal nationalism as follows:
The analyst of banal nationalism does not have the theoretical luxury of exposing the nationalism of others. The analyst cannot place exotic nationalists under the microscope as specimens, in order to stain the tissues of repressed sexuality, or turn the magnifying lens on to the unreasonable stereotypes, which ooze from the mouth of the specimen. In presenting the psychology of a Le Pen or Zhirinovsky, ‘we’ might experience a shiver of fear as ‘we’ contemplate ‘them’, the nationalists, with their violent emotions and ‘their’ crude stereotyping of the Other. And ‘we’ will recognize ‘ourselves’ among the objects of this stereotyping. Alongside the ‘foreigners’ and the ‘racial inferiors’, there ‘we’ will be – the ‘liberal degenerates’, with ‘our’ international broadmindedness. ‘We’ will be reassured to have confirmed ‘ourselves’ as the Other of ‘our’ Other.

By extending the concept of nationalism, the analyst is not safely removed from the scope of investigation. We might imagine that we possess a cosmopolitan broadness of spirit. But, if nationalism is a wider ideology, whose familiar commonplaces catch us unawares, then this is too reassuring. We will not remain unaffected. If the thesis is correct, then nationalism has seeped into the corners of our consciousness; it is present in the very words which we might try to use for analysis. It is naïve to think that a text of exposure can escape from the times and place of its formulation. It can attempt, instead, to do something more modest: it can draw attention to the powers of an ideology which is so familiar that it hardly seems noticeable. [Billig, Michael, Banal Nationalism, Sage Publications, London, 1995.]

I extend Billig’s concept to a concept of banal white nationalism. My paper on it is online at  The presentation of racist groups in sensational media reports are of largely marginal individuals who we will socially never run into, who have belligerent attitudes and behaviors, use racial slurs, have poor middle class decorum, and who perhaps wear funny clothes. Like Billig’s extremists, they reassure us that we aren’t racist since we are not like them. However, if we realize that racist attitudes and practice need not be confined to belligerent individuals shouting racial slurs or confined to physical assaults, we should not be so self-assured ourselves and have to examine a much wider range of practices and consider if we are involved. Suddenly it can be people that we know and who socially circulate in the circles in which we circulate.

The UDC as a well-mannered genteel group is largely not perceived as racist despite their ongoing practice as mentioned earlier in this letter.

I am writing you to ask you to not lend your facilities to the UDC for their 2015 Children of the Confederacy convention or for any unit of the UDC for any event. When a church lends their facility to the UDC or other neo-Confederate organization besides enabling them by giving them the use of their facility they also lend the prestige of their denomination and often a prominent historical church.

Sincerely Yours,
Edward H. Sebesta

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Popular Posts Last 30 days

Popular Posts All Time