Photo from Life magazine’s cover story on church desegregation, 1954.
Exclusionist circulates writings claiming blacks are under a curse
Arlen L. Chitwood, a leading exclusionist, edited and now promotes literature affirming segregation as a necessary component of the gospel. In reply to inquiries, Chitwood defended the writings of A. Edwin Wilson, his spiritual predecessor, arguing that the Hamitic curse, “of necessity, remains in effect today.” He added that it is “something which no one can get around, no matter how hard that person might try.”
The “Hamitic curse” is the antiquated theory that Africans are inferior and are condemned to “national” and “personal” servitude by God. The theory is based on interpretations of Genesis 9 (the curse of Canaan). In the 1800s, it was used to justify slavery, and in the 20th century, it was used to defend segregation.
Writing in the 1950s, Wilson wrote, “WHAT GOD HAS SEPARATED, LET NOT MAN INTEGRATE!” (emphasis in the original). His essays were collected and published under the title, Selected Writings of A. Edwin Wilson, in the early 1980s. These include numerous denunciations of the civil rights movement.
An unabridged version is maintained by Chitwood, who edited the text, at LampBroadcast.org.[9. http://www.lampbroadcast.org/LAMPDOWN.HTML. Writing in the introduction, Chitwood stated, “The articles in this periodical covered a broad range of Biblical subjects and came from the pen of an individual who, through many years of prayer, study, and meditation upon the Scriptures, was pre-eminently qualified to write on these subjects.” — UPDATE: The material was pulled, see here.]
Wilson, whose ministry lasted between 1953 and 1970, objected to Billy Graham’s Life magazine article, entitled, “Billy Graham makes plea for an end to intolerance,” and subtitled, “Arguing that the Bible forbids segregation, evangelist calls for both love and justice” (Oct. 1, 1954).
In his response to the article, Wilson declared that “integration, of which we hear so much today, is an effort to take two or more parts and fuse them into one, to integrate the colored race and white race through marriage, amalgamation, and assimilation, and to reduce the two groups (colored and white) to one group. Anyone who knows God’s plan and purpose concerning the human race can see the hand of Satan behind all this.”[2. Selected Writings of A. Edwin Wilson, chpt. 15, p. 3.]
The “Word of the Kingdom” and racial separation
Chitwood and the late A. Edwin Wilson are founders of the “Word of the Kingdom,” a dispensational teaching that maintains salvation is “conditional.”[1. Salvation of the Soul, by Arlen L. Chitwood, p. 13.] Central to the message of the “Word of the Kingdom” is that Christians have abandoned the Bible, and that fundamental truths are ignored.
Chitwood has gained a wide audience on the Internet, but his views and Wilson’s views on race are not broadly known. A popular online edition of Wilson’s writings, for example, contains a only redacted version of Selected Writings of A. Edwin Wilson, omitting chapter 15.[3. RaptureReady.com.] Chitwood includes this chapter in the edition he offers at LampBroadcast.org.
After being notified that I was researching Wilson’s racial theories, Chitwood offered the following reply, printed here in its entirety. Emphasis is in the original.
One can no more change that which is written in Gen. 9:25, 26b, 27b than he can change that which is written in Gen. 9:26a, 27a.
The curse connected with Gen. 9:25, 26b, 27b, of necessity, remains in effect today, will remain in effect until the Millennium, and will then pass out of existence (Zech. 14:21b).
The blessing connected with Gen. 9:26a, 27a, of necessity, remains in effect today, will remain in effect until the Millennium, and will then be realized in its fullness during the Millennium and throughout the endless ages following, never passing out of existence (Gen. 12:1-3; Ex. 4:22, 23 [and there is an entire O.T., plus a N.T., filled with verses which could be referenced to show that it “must” and “will” be this way, with the two references shown revealing “why” it must be this way]).
The preceding would reflect A. Edwin Wilson’s position, my position, and the position of anyone who takes the Bible at face value and believes it. The latter would have to be the case, for the preceding is simply what the Bible states — something which no one can get around, no matter how hard that person might try.
Now, if you put the preceding on your web site, I don’t particularly care. But, if you do, I want the whole of what I have written in the preceding four paragraphs quoted, exactly as I’ve written it. Also, do not reference me on this matter in any way on your web site unless you do as I’ve previously stated.
What you might think or say about what I’ve stated is immaterial. I could care less. But, if you are going to comment on the matter, I want it all out there, exactly as I’ve written it, so people can see what you are commenting on.
In fact, if this goes on your web site, put the whole of the previous out there — all six paragraphs.
Asked specifically if these comments pertained to “African Americans and the civil rights movement,” Chitwood answered, “You can derive that information from his book, the chapter titled, ‘The Sons of Noah,’ pp. 271-284.”
Race hatred and the American church
Slavery and segregation constitute dark chapters in the history of the American church. Though Christians were first to oppose slavery on biblical grounds, the Bible was used by other churchmen to promote bondage and servitude. Proslavery ministers appealed to the “Hamitic curse,” gaining a wide and vociferous audience. So strong was opposition to abolitionism that in the early 1800s Congress outlawed the transmission of anti-slavery materials by mail.[5. Read All on Fire for background] Abolitionists were cut off, and mobs silenced them further. Still, Christian abolitionists prevailed upon the consciousness of America.
The cost, however, was inordinate.
Between 500,000 and 650,000 Americans died in the Civil War, a war would not have occurred except for slavery. The continuation of race hatred in the 20th century added to the number of the dead. Thousands of blacks were lynched, almost always with impunity. When Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to the White House, segregationists called even for the lynching of the president! His anti-lynch law was never considered by Congress.
The Civil Rights movement, occurring nearly a century after the Civil War, signified remarkable change. Equality became the dominant issue, and ministers could not remain silent. Some, like Billy Graham, called for an end to segregation (his own crusades were desegregated); others, like A. Edwin Wilson, called for its continuation.
The “Word of the Kingdom” and practical implications
There is no evidence that Wilson sanctioned violence against blacks; however, his theories contributed to the violence by giving justification to segregation. He even advocated the subjugation of African Americans, writing, “[The Hamitic] curse also involved general inferiority of the Hamitic race, and a special condemnation to the lowest degree of servitude. This curse consigns the Hamitic race to a position of national and personal servitude until the time of restitution of all things (Zech. 14:21),” emphasis mine.[6. Page 4 of chapter 15.]
Wilson scoffed at the notion that people are created equal under the law and before God. “Are all people born equal? According to the Word of God they are not.”[7. Page 11 of chapter 15.] Here, he parodies Jefferson’s “all men are created equal” by assuming equality means sameness in physical being, social position and intellectual capacity. He deliberately ignores the significance of the clause, that all people are equal before God in the legal sense. Scripturally, the equality of persons could not be more certain: “There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality,” (Romans 2:10-11).
Wilson’s views are so utterly deplorable, one wonders why Chitwood so voraciously defends them. How is such a teaching to be implemented? Must churches segregate? Must interracial couples divorce? What of the offspring of interracial marriages? Are they half-cursed, half-blessed? Chitwood offers no answers, no qualifications. Instead, he boldly defends “Sons of Noah,” asserting that it is “the position of anyone who takes the Bible at face value.”
Such vulgarity deserves absolute censure. It is entirely deplorable.