Alabama lawmaker resigns pastor’s post amid criticism for celebrating KKK leader

Published 8:53 pm Friday, July 31, 2020

An Alabama lawmaker who was criticized for participating in a celebration marking the birthday of a Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader has resigned from his position as pastor of a Baptist church, according to officials.

Rep. Will Dismukes resigned as pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Prattville on Wednesday after drawing backlash over a Facebook post he shared showing him at a gathering to remember Nathan Bedford Forrest, news outlets reported, citing local religious officials.

The post, which is no longer visible on his public page, included a photo showing the Republican state House member speaking in front of several Confederate flags.

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The post came on the same day the state was honoring the late John Lewis, an Alabama native who served for decades in Congress and had a long record of fighting for civil rights. Lewis died July 17 at the age of 80.

Dismukes, a chaplain of a chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, later posted that he did not mean to disrespect Lewis or glorify the Klan.

He was called to a meeting with religious officials Tuesday, reported.

Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, said in a statement posted this week that the board was opposed “to any kind of racism” in the wake of what he described as “tremendous controversy.” The statement was signed by five other local leaders.

“We are saddened and grieved to learn of the recent Facebook post by state Rep. Will Dismukes,” the statement added.

Dismukes said he did not plan to resign from the Legislature, news outlets reported.