View Full Version : Why do "Christian" hate groups like to burn the cross ?

11-08-2001, 01:43 AM
I would think that burning a cross would be just as offensive as burning a flag. Why do these supposed "Christian" hate groups such as the KKK perform this practice. I know what it means now, but why was this image chosen in the first place.

My guess is that it is because Christianity is an important part of many black communities. Perhaps the hate groups think that a burning cross represents hell ? Does the fire have a different meaning in their minds - like burning a flag when it becomes worn ?

11-08-2001, 02:30 AM
From a Supreme Court case (Capitol Square Review Bd. v. Pinette (94-780), 515 U.S. 753 (1995), http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/94-780.ZC.html ):

In Klan ceremony, the cross is a symbol of white supremacy and a tool for the intimidation and harassment of racial minorities, Catholics, Jews, Communists, and any other groups hated by the Klan. The cross is associated with the Klan not because of religious worship, but because of the Klan's practice of cross burning. Cross burning was entirely unknown to the early Ku Klux Klan, which emerged in some Southern States during Reconstruction. W. Wade, The Fiery Cross: The Ku Klux Klan in America 146 (1987). The practice appears to have been the product of Thomas Dixon, whose book The Clansman formed the story for the movie, The Birth of a Nation. See M. Newton & J. Newton, The Ku Klux Klan: An Encyclopedia 145-146 (1991). In the book, cross burning is borrowed from an "old Scottish rite" (Dixon apparently believed that the members of the Reconstruction Ku Klux Klan were the "reincarnated souls of the Clansmen of Old Scotland") that the Klan uses to celebrate the execution of a former slave. T. Dixon, The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan 324-326 (1905). Although the cross took on some religious significance in the 1920's when the Klan became connected with certain southern white clergy, by the postwar period it had reverted to its original function as an instrument of intimidation. Wade, supra, at 185, 279.

So, appearantly, it started out as a way to intimidate black people, but today the various KKK groups often try to pass it off as a "religious ceremony" symbolizing that "Christ is the light of the world". Whether or not they really believe this themselves, or just want constitutional protection for harassing people they hate, I cannot say, but I lean towards the latter answer. Here is a page from a Texas nut group, the "Texas American Knights":


11-08-2001, 06:11 AM
Why does the Ku Klux Klan burn crosses? (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a4_196.html)

11-08-2001, 11:00 AM
..and there it is. Thank you both for the especially informative posts.