Charlotte pastor took on Klansman

Editor’s note: On March 9, 1986, the Observer’s editorial board published part of a sermon from the Rev. Harold Bales, then senior minister at First United Methodist Church in uptown Charlotte. It focused on hatreds F. Glenn Miller was espousing as he ran for a U.S. Senate seat in North Carolina. Miller is the Frazier Glenn Cross police arrested Sunday in the slayings of three people at two Jewish facilities in Overland Park, Kansas.

Bales is now retired and living in Concord. Here are excerpts from his 1986 commentary as a reminder, in his words on our editiorial blog O-Pinion, “that certain battles are never fully won and require our eternal vigilance.”

A few days ago I was asked to call a particular telephone number and react to a recorded message. When I did so, this is what I heard; I apologize in advance for the crudity of it:

“America today is a melting pot of all races. The federal government and the mass media tells us that this is good... The melting pot means that we should all jump into the integration pot together and mix. That way there’ll only be the one race. Of course, that race will be a kinky-headed, bubba-lipped, mud-colored, slant- eyed mongrel, but this is what the government wants.

“ ...The dark races are averaging three times more children than white people. Now add race mixing, immigration, abortion and sterilization and any fool can plainly see that the white race is dying out... ‘hitey, you don’t like to think about it, do you? You want to sit back like a cowardly sheep, sip on your sixpack, smoke your dope or watch the niggers play on television. You have no future, whitey! The mongrels are taking your tax money, your women, your country and your future. It’s time to take a stand. Join with the thousands of your white brothers and sisters already in the glorious Southern White Patriot Party.

‘This is Glenn Miller, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. White Power!”

Friends, I have struggled with the question of whether to address this issue. I realize that I am calling attention to one who might better be left ignored. I decided to do so for several reasons.

First, there were some three dozen incidents of violence or illegal activity apparently motivated by bigotry last year in North Carolina. Terrorism is found not only in international airports and the Mideast, it is also alive and well in our own more immediate world.

Second, others who are only somewhat less flagrant in their racism are made all the more acceptable to the public when contrasted with radical extremists. How often do people say of an outrageous thing like you have heard from Glenn Miller: “I’d never support a thing like that, but there’s at least some truth to what he says.”

Friends, there is no truth to what he says and advocates. My third reason for calling this matter to your attention is that this is God’s world. When something happens that strikes at the very heart of civilization, however little impact it may have, the Gospel stands to challenge that assault on God’s creation.

Miller has brought into the daylight what has usually been done in darkness, under the cover of sheets, pointed caps and masks. What we see is a blatant expression of one of the most persistent sins in life. It is what sin always is – ugly, mean-spirited and morally degenerate...

You may be one who says “Yes, Glenn Miller and the Ku Klux Klan are outrageous. I’d never vote for them, but....” That qualifying “but” is the beginning of a tilt that can quickly lead to a tumble into moral and spiritual desolution...

No one of us is without sin. Each of us is vulnerable to the onslaught of evil deep within our hearts. Grant, God, that we – and Glenn Miller – may be delivered from the hell of hatred and be converted to hatred of the hell of human prejudice.