Clergy challenge white supremacists

Associated Press/April 6, 1999

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A group of Springfield ministers says white supremacists have been passing off their annual convention in the area as religion for too many years, and they've had enough. Rather than organizing a demonstration, they're trying to undermine the meeting by asking area hotel and convention facilities to turn away the group.

"Saying nothing gives them the idea of acceptance ... If they've been coming back, they must feel acceptance," said Mike Adamek of First Unitarian Universalist Church.

Making the convention feel unwelcome won't be easy. It is organized by Everett Ramsey, pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Houston, Mo., who says there's no reason to worry.

"We've been there seven years and never had any trouble. We're nothing but a Baptist group. I have nothing else to say," said Ramsey.

However, national organizations that monitor extremist activity claim Ramsey's church is a hate group and belongs to the Christian Identity movement.

Devin Burghart, director of a center in Oak Park, Ill., which monitors and reports on organized hate groups, said Christian Identity has about 25,000 members nationwide who believe Jews are satanic and nonwhites are inferior. Many of the speakers expected at Ramsey's convention have Christian Identity ties, he said.

Burghart suggested ministers educate their congregations about the group and organize against the meeting in mid-May. Such tactics, he said, kept a similar meeting from taking place in Quincy, Ill., in March.

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