Revealed: From the KKK to Catholic Priest
Aitcheson: abandon your bigoted ideology and “find peace and mercy in the only place where it is authentic and unending: Jesus Christ.”
Hate has consumed the news cycle since Charlottesville happened. But you know what’s more affective? Stories of love. Yes, it sounds cliché, but it’s true. Love and positive change. How about a story about a man who went from a member to the KKK to a Catholic priest?
That’s what happened to Father William Aitcheson of the Catholic Dioceses of Arlington in Virginia. The events in Charlottesville affected him on a personal level and he decided to use his past as teaching tool.
Father Aitcheson revealed his past in an op-ed in The Arlington Catholic Herald yesterday:
What most people do not know about me is that as an impressionable young man, I was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. It’s public information but it rarely comes up. My actions were despicable. When I think back on burning crosses, a threatening letter, and so on, I feel as though I am speaking of somebody else. It’s hard to believe that was me.
As a young adult I was Catholic, but in no way practicing my faith. The irony that I left an anti-Catholic hate group to rejoin the Catholic Church is not lost on me. It is a reminder of the radical transformation possible through Jesus Christ in his mercy.
He apologizes for his former actions and asks for forgiveness. He also asks those affected by racism or bigotry to forgive him.
While the photos of Charlottesville haunted father Aitcheson, he wrote that no one should ever forget the past even if God has forgiven you. He believes God has forgiven him, but “forgetting what I did would be a mistake.” He continued:
The images from Charlottesville are embarrassing. They embarrass us as a country, but for those who have repented from a damaging and destructive past, the images should bring us to our knees in prayer. Racists have polluted minds, twisted by an ideology that reinforces the false belief that they are superior to others.
Christ teaches something different. He teaches us that we are all his creations and wonderfully made — no matter our skin color or ethnicity. Realizing this truth is incredibly liberating. When I left my former life, I did a lot of soul-searching. God humbled me, because I needed to be humbled. But abandoning thoughts of racism and superiority gave me the liberation I needed.
Father Aitcheson reminds us that everyone “must condemn, at every opportunity, the hatred and vile beliefs of the KKK and other white supremacist organizations” since those beliefs “directly contradicts what we believe as Americans and what we, as Catholics hold dear.” But he had a message for them:
If there are any white supremacists reading this, I have a message for you: you will find no fulfillment in this ideology. Your hate will never be satisfied and your anger will never subside. I encourage you to find peace and mercy in the only place where it is authentic and unending: Jesus Christ.
For those who have suffered racism and bigotry we must pray for them, but we must not forget those who spew their hatred:
Pray also for those who perpetuate racist beliefs and wrongly believe they are superior to others. God forgives everyone who truly repents. Nobody is outside of his loving grasp. With conversion in Christ, they can find new life in the truth.
Father Aitcheson has taken a leave of absence. From FOX5:
“While Fr. Aitcheson’s past with the Ku Klux Klan is sad and deeply troubling, I pray that in our current political and social climate his message will reach those who support hate and division, and inspire them to a conversion of heart,” read a statement from Bishop Burbidge of the Catholic Dioceses of Arlington.. “Our Lord is ready to help them begin a new journey, one where they will find peace, love, and mercy. The Catholic Church will walk with anyone to help bring them closer to God.”
FOX 5’s Melanie Alnwick reported that Aitcheson was the leader of a KKK group that participated in several cross burnings in 1977 in the College Park area of Prince George’s County. Alnwick reports that Aitcheson’s group considered bombing local facilities including Fort Meade and the Prince George’s County NAACP offices. Alnwick said the New York Times reported that Aitcheson was convicted on a criminal misdemeanor charge and spent 90 days in jail.
The Dioceses says there have been no accusations of racism or bigotry against Aitcheson throughout his time in the Diocese of Arlington. The Dioceses says he voluntarily asked to step away from public ministry, for the well-being of the Church and parish community.
I firmly believe the most powerful voices to fight hate are those who used to follow those beliefs. We must embrace those people and give them an outlet. It’s the same for abortion or drug addiction. Nothing can turn minds more than those who actually lived it like former abortion doctors or drug addicts.
I came across this story from PBS published in February about an African American musician who befriends white supremacists to change their ways. It’s worked. One of his closest friends is Scott Shepherd, a former Grand Dragon of the KKK:
Shepherd “made it his life’s mission to defeat the creed he once espoused, the people [he] once called friends have sent him death threats, yet still he carries on, desperate to atone for the sins of his past” [International Business Times]. At the Martin Luther King Center, Shepherd recently publicly apologized to the family of the slain Civil Rights leader for all the terrible things he once said about Dr. King. In a video of that discussion (below), with Daryl Davis alongside him, the Mississippi native revealed that he was raised by an African American woman, and blames having a broken home with an alcoholic father, along with self-loathing, for why he turned toward the Klan (which was basically in his backyard).
The key? This:
Like Scott Shepherd, other high profile white supremacists who’ve become reformed racists began their reconsideration when confronted with the humanity of individuals that contradicted their poisonous assumptions.
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Why is everyone drinking the liberal media Kool Aid?
White Supremacists are POTENTIALLY dangerous, IF they can find traction for discrimination against non-whites. But, that has not happened in the immediate past or for the last 20 years, really. Until the last 12-18 months, the KKK and other white supremacist groups were all but extinct. They should be monitored, but they are not a demonstrable threat.
On the other hand, Antifa, BLM and other liberal organizations have proven themselves to be an immediate threat to the people of this country. They have been responsible for physical attacks upon innocent people, arson and other property damage. They are constantly disrupting the ability of the average citizen to live his life in peace and harmony. These organizations are the danger here, not white supremacist organizations. In fact, these organizations should probably be designated as terrorist organizations
Now, does anyone have any feel-good stories about violent liberal anarchists who have embraced the teachings of Christ? That I would find interesting.
I felt exactly the same way MAC…well said
So, Dylann Roof does not exist.
You are so typically full of shit, it just amazes me.
I spent over three decades in law enforcement. One of my jobs, for a while, was to monitor fringe groups such as the KKK, the Black Panthers, the BLA, the Earth Liberation Front, etc. All used, or had used violence to attempt to advance their agendas. So, they were all being monitored.
Interestingly enough, almost all of these groups withered due to a lack of public support and the enforcement of existing laws.
So, why are similar groups making a comeback? Well, in the case of the liberal anarchist racial angst groups, it is because someone with deep pockets is supporting them. They are being supported to cause dissension in the US and assist in the destruction of our society. The white nationalist groups are generally supported in more of a grass roots fashion. Their resurgence is a response to the liberal hate groups being supported by the political and social leaders of this country.
Now, does any of this make white supremacist organizations the good guys? No. Are they less dangerous than the liberal thugs beating people, burning, looting and destroying property? In the short term, yes. The liberal anarchist fringe is out of control and violating the law on a whim. So far, the white supremacists have had limited impact on society.
I’m glad that you brought up Dylan Roof. Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on Roof:
“According to a childhood friend, Roof went on a rant about the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the 2015 Baltimore protests that were sparked by the death of Freddie Gray while Gray was in police custody. He also often claimed that “blacks were taking over the world”. Roof reportedly told friends and neighbors of his plans to kill people, including a plot to attack the College of Charleston, but his claims were not taken seriously.”
This illustrates my point. Roof felt that blacks had been made superior to whites in this country. His actions, while the work of a deeply disturbed individual, were a means of push back against a perception which is becoming more and more wide spread among the white majority of this country; and with good reason. Organizations such as BLM and people like President Obama are what is causing the resurgence of white supremacist groups. The easiest way to promote racial harmony is to simply treat everyone equally. Not exactly a novel concept. After all, this is what the civil rights activists have been preaching for 50 years.
Reality might be scary, but it is still reality.
As I recall, in his manifesto Roof whined that he couldn’t find any others online like him willing to join him in his war.
But we sure never heard the term “lone wolf” applied to him.
While working in campus ministry, I talked to some young white people who started to abandon racist attitudes after exposure to Jesus Christ. Hence, my hat is off to people like Mr. Aitcheson and Daryl Davis.
Further, after living in the Heartland and knowing a few “new racists” or others tempted by that thing, I’m of the opinion that Mac45’s observations are squarely on target.
Dylann Roof exists, but he is an outlier. I think Mac is right on this one: Roof notwithstanding these people are not a serious threat. The real threat remains where it has long been — the left and Islamism — and to the extent that attention and resources are diverted from them to worry about these people the public safely will be harmed rather than improved.
White Supremacy is not just potentially dangerous. It is dangerous, whether the person ever commits a violent act.
Yale theologian Miroslav Volf wrote Exclusion and Embrace, where he describes how we make a person the Other, someone less than human, in our heart, and so enable us to treat someone with disdain, hatred and allows us to perform acts based on that perception.
He lived through the Serbian war, and saw neighbors who once ate together rape and kill each other.
It is a very insightful book, albeit a dense one.
So i think that just stating that white supremacy is near its nadir, with little violence, is the wrong goal.
When Breitbart showed the famous video of the African American woman who refused to give a loan to the poor white farmer (and then later recanted and helped him), the audience cheered. She later was fired and sued Breitbart.
Breitbart stated that the whole point was NOT that she refused the loan, but that her racism was lustily cheered by the audience. This site defended him because he did not delete the scenes where she did recant and help him. So if it was wrong for her to have racism and hatred in her heart, we should not aim for less.
This is why identity politics is so toxic and so dangerous. People who grasp their new tribal identity see everyone else as an outsider and as a potential oppressor instead of as their neighbors or co workers.
The problem is the one sidedness of it, always White devils, never that Black racism is wrong, heck, Holder told us a Blacks can’t be racist because they were not in the majority and had been abused by Whites in the past.
Clearly all Whites are evil, clearly we should be put in chains for a thousand years and have Blacks as our masters…
But I don’t think that will appease the racist mongers…Whites must simply die, and the quicker the better.
Oscar Wilde — “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.”
There were Confederates who also recognized individual dignity and ultimately set an example for positive progress in reconciliation. This includes many of the same people (e.g. Lee) who are memorialized in statues that the left is earnestly erasing from history and mind.
Something similar happened to select members of another color supremacy group: the Black Panthers.
While color supremacy is a dying problem, “color” diversity (i.e. denying individual dignity) is a progressive condition that has been normalized in institutions and people’s hearts and minds.
While we may be somewhat impressed by this, I doubt the radical leftists will see much difference between the Catholic Church, and the KKK.
“So what, they’re both nothing but a bunch of white racists!”
Remember when Sen. Robt. C. Byrd (D, WV) expressed regret about his past a Grand Kleagle of the KKK and asked for forgiveness? Remember? Remember … ?
Lefty Lesson of the Day: Never reform, because we’ll never forgive you.