I used the above picture during a week-long summer history institute a year ago; I also use this image in my US history classes to illustrate the notion of American terrorism, religion, and white supremacy during Reconstruction. It seems that many believe the KKK existed before Reconstruction — but that is simply not the case. Whites seeking to recapture the South in the name of God and white supremacy sought to terrorize blacks and sympathetic whites. If you look at the image carefully, it portrays a change of the guard. At one point, blacks were enslaved and thus controlled by environmental factors that worked against them. After the 13th Amendment, blacks were legally emancipated but never fully protected by the 14th and 15 Amendments of the Constitution. If I had things my way, I would seek to posthumously impeach every American president from Andrew Johnson to Herbert Hoover for their unwillingness to enforce the Constitution. I am going to let FDR and Ike after the hook just a bit, but only because there was enough pressure placed on them to act.
Above: Map of American Hate Groups
I am very careful in my classes to illustrate that the KKK took on their role as racist in the name of Christianity; however, the reality regardless of their justifications was one that does not speak towards Christianity. The United States consist of a number of hate groups. Many of them claim to be doing the will of God. In truth, we as Americans know this is not the case. Moreover, Americans recognize that said groups only undermine the mission and faith of many loyal followers of Jesus Christ. Before 9/11, the worst act of terrorism to take hold on American soil was that of the Oklahoma City bombing. I say this noting that home-grown terrorism by Americans is an issue.