America's Secret Jihad: The Hidden History of Religious Terrorism in the United States(2015)
THE DAYS OF NOAH
the 1962 OLE MISS INTEGRATION RIOTS and the 1963 MURDER of MEDGAR EVERS
On September 30, 1962, the Reverend Wesley Swift delivered a sermon at the Church of Jesus Christ–Christian in Hollywood, California:
As we turn tonight to survey the situation, you remember that we discussed quite thoroughly this afternoon as we talked about being surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses—this continual invasion of state rights, and individual liberties by those who control the Federal Government. We only mention that there is nothing more abhorrent to every free American than increasing Federalism, guided by the enemies of Jesus Christ surrounding the President of the United States, whose mind they must hold captive. . . . I charge that the President of the United States has committed a felony. . . . And with his using of Federal troops which he used today in the state of Mississippi, he has become a felon whether there is courage enough in the Congress to charge him for impeachment and for the Senate to hear such a case.1
Swift referred his audience, including his many radio listeners and those who would hear his tapes, to the ongoing events at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. Before long, those events would become the basis for one of the most well-known riots in American history, one that would galvanize religious fanatics like Swift. But at the time of Swift’s sermon, the situation at Ole Miss remained in flux. For several days prior, James Meredith, a twenty-nine-year-old African American air force veteran, was attempting to enroll at all-white Ole Miss, on a one-man mission for integration. Mississippi governor Ross Barnett personally blocked Meredith’s court-ordered admission to the university on September 20, meeting Meredith on the steps of the locked registration office. The events received national attention, and Barnett’s efforts became a cause célèbre for white supremacists from around the country, led by nationally known racial agitator and retired general Edwin Walker of Texas.2
Hundreds of racists not just from Mississippi but from across the Southeast flocked to join the protests. They included many armed men, among them a contingent of NSRP members from Florida led by the Reverend Oren Potito. In the same sermon, Swift noted that Colonel William Gale was also on his way to Mississippi.
The Kennedy administration, anxious to avoid the kind of public and international embarrassment that had followed racial violence in the 1961 Freedom Rides, worked behind the scenes to convince Governor Barnett to back down and admit Meredith. But Barnett waffled, and on September 28 a court found him guilty of civic contempt, with the possibility of arrest and an ongoing fine of $10,000 a day as long as the governor continued to use local law enforcement to stop the integration of Ole Miss. Soon after, Barnett reached a secret backroom deal with the Kennedy administration to admit Meredith. But Barnett, an unpopular politician before his stance against Meredith, changed his mind at the last minute, once again refusing to allow Meredith to register. This forced the hands of President John F. Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who reluctantly ordered five hundred federal marshals to protect Meredith and escort him onto campus.
The marshals surrounded Ole Miss’s oldest building, the Lyceum, waiting for Meredith to arrive by plane. As the day turned into evening, tensions reached a boiling point and Ole Miss became a scene of mob violence. Wright Thompson, a Mississippi native, described the events vividly on the fiftieth anniversary:
The violence increases, as if the dark offers absolution. First, it’s a smashed camera. Then a tossed cigarette. The mob surrounds a Dallas television reporter, George Yoder, sitting in his station wagon with his wife in the passenger seat. Someone reaches in and grabs his camera, which is thrown at the marshals. Then the mob turns on Yoder’s wife, reaching for her like a scene from a zombie movie, screaming, “N___________loving Yankee bitch!” She is from Jackson, Miss.
Finally, after watching the scene with amusement, some state troopers lead the Yoders to safety. Later, their car will be flipped and burned. The mob closes on the marshals. Missiles come from every direction, starting adolescent, slowly becoming more adult, from rotten eggs to firebombs. A construction site not far away is discovered, and bricks rain down on the white-painted helmets of the marshals, too.
A group takes down the Stars and Stripes and runs up the Confederate flag. The chain snarls at half-staff, where the flag will remain throughout the night.3
That was only the beginning. Soon the marshals were attacked with pipes. The marshals responded with tear gas, only escalating the violence. Outside agitators joined the fray, firing gunshots. Per Thompson:
Later, the events of the night will seem impossible: an Associated Press reporter shot in the back with birdshot. A bulldozer and fire truck stolen and driven at the marshals. A French reporter shot dead. So is a local resident. Dozens of marshals are shot or injured. A sniper sets up on the Confederate statue, first shooting out the lights, then turning his weapon on the Lyceum, pushing the marshals inside, high-powered deer rounds shattering the door and window frames. The besieged marshals were running out of tear gas and desperately tried to enlist a member of the school’s undefeated football team to calm down the crowd—the young man accepted the challenge, but was mocked for his efforts. It was as if the Civil War had begun anew, and the North was losing.4
President Kennedy then sent almost three thousand additional troops to calm the violence and enforce the court order. Through “a storm of bricks and Molotov cocktails . . . the newly arriving soldiers maintained tight discipline never breaking stride. The precision scares the rioters, as do the shining fixed bayonets. The sound of hundreds of rounds of live ammunition being jacked into hundreds of chambers echoes off the old white buildings, chilling the crowd.”5
By October 1, the day after Swift’s sermon, order had been restored in Mississippi. The riot had left 2 people dead and 375 people injured. But while a defeat for the cause of segregation, the events likely signaled a much more profound turn for the nation and the world. To religiously minded racial agitators like Swift and his followers, the incident may even have pointed a promising way forward in what was, to them, a cosmic struggle.
Certainly, white supremacists could not have been pleased about the immediate turn of events at Ole Miss. Stoner and others, in periodicals like the NSRP’s The Thunderbolt, routinely warned about the prospect of race mixing and miscegenation, something symbolized by Meredith’s admission to the all-white university. But from a long-term perspective, the riot at Oxford may have validated those in the white supremacist community who followed the radical strain of Christian Identity preached by Swift. To someone like Swift, the events of September 30, 1962, signaled, as other key events before it, that mankind was soon approaching God’s Final Judgment.
Radical Christian Identity theology not only renarrates the origins of man as told in the book of Genesis, but it also proposes a radical new version for what modern Christians call the end-times or the End of Days—as described in the New Testament’s book of Revelations. Many Christians, especially those of a fundamentalist bent, envision the final days of the secular world, when God will judge mankind for the last time and, vanquishing the forces of Satan, will usher in a spiritual paradise, the Kingdom of God, for righteous believers. The study of the end-times falls under a sub-branch of theology known as eschatology.
Key to Christian eschatology is a concept known as millennialism, referring to a period lasting one thousand years, when Jesus will reign on Earth upon his return, or second coming. The second coming of Jesus is described in the book of Revelations and has been given three mutually exclusive interpretations. Under the amillennialist interpretation, Jesus will not return for a literal thousand-year earthly reign. Rather, the millennium symbolically represents a spiritual return of Jesus. In contrast, postmillennialists believe that mankind and the world are being gradually perfected by God over time and that once all nations accept Jesus, mankind will enter into a one-thousand-year peace, after which Jesus will return in the flesh to lead his righteous followers (including those who have been resurrected) and the eternal Kingdom of God will commence. The most popular form of millennialism among fundamentalist Christians, however, is premillennialism, which holds that Jesus will return before his thousand-year reign.6
Key to premillennialism is the Great Tribulation, a seven-year period of plagues and other calamities visited upon mankind, when a false prophet (the so-called Antichrist) will promise a Trojan horse solution to humanity’s crisis and assume the mantle of leadership in a one-government world, only to bend the world to Satan’s will. Premillennialists typically believe that Jesus will come before the Great Tribulation and save the righteous from impending chaos by taking them into the Kingdom of God—a process known as the Rapture. Then, after destroying Satan once and for all, Jesus will return with those he saved and with the resurrected dead who followed his teachings to lead a thousand-year paradise on Earth, referred to as the millennium. Those who follow this version of premillennialism constitute the majority of fundamentalist, evangelical Christians and are known as pretribulation premillennialists. The idea is popular enough in America that Tim LaHaye’s fictional series Left Behind, which dramatizes a pretribulation premillennial rendition of the book of Revelations in the modern world, has sold tens of millions of copies.
Conrad Gaard, who stands among the most influential, early Identity theologians, proposed an eschatology that rejected amillennialism outright but borrowed elements of premillennialism and postmillennialism. He concurred with the postmillenialists that Jesus “will return to rule and reign in a literal Kingdom on this earth” and in “restoration of the earth under God’s law.” But, in contrast to their optimism that men will help bring these circumstances forward, Gaard asserted, “Scripture teaches that sin and wickedness will grow unabated . . . until Jesus Christ returns to this earth.” Here Gaard agreed with the premillennialists that “sin will proliferate to a state of great reprobation until we reach conditions much like those of Noah’s generation.” He also believed, per the premillenialists, that “Jesus Christ will return to this earth in advance of the millennium.” But importantly, Gaard and his fellow Identity theologians rejected the idea of the Rapture. “There is nothing in the Bible about any secret rapture of the Church. The Church will be saved in tribulation, not out of it,” he emphasized. “The Church will remain on earth during the great Tribulation and will be saved in this time of trouble.”7 Identity adherents believe that the faithful will experience the Great Tribulation and that Jesus will come to save them after the chaos ends. This is why Christian Identity believers often embrace survivalist principles. The vast majority of them operate as white separatists who detach themselves from a society that they believe does not operate according to God’s laws and that allows the “abomination” of race mixing. They frequently form their own separatist communities.
But an important subset of Christian Identity adherents—those who hew most closely to the teachings of Wesley Swift—believe that the faithful not only must experience the Great Tribulation but must serve as soldiers in God’s army in the fight against the Antichrist. The Antichrist, in this scenario, has a very specific connotation—not simply as a singular figure but as the entire collection of demonic Jews. In this view, the Battle of Armageddon is a holy race war, with Anglo-Saxon whites on one side and with Jews on the side of the devil, and the Jews, predictably, manipulate minority groups, such as blacks, into joining their army. But victory is guaranteed, and the forces of God will prevail. In fact, under this radical Identity eschatology, the Identity follower is expected to do his or her best to accelerate or encourage a race war.8
For theologians like Swift, the cold war era, and the civil rights movement in particular, illustrated all the hallmarks of an impending apocalypse. First, there was the institution of the United Nations and its implications for one-world government. Time and time again, Swift’s sermons spoke to the nefarious plotting by the “Jew-controlled” United Nations to dominate the world. Second, there was the threat of communism, a system that did in fact aspire to world subjugation. But in the rhetoric of someone like J.B. Stoner, it became a satanic conspiracy to enslave white Christians by way of the United Nations. In the NSRP publication The Thunderbolt, Stoner and Fields never failed to remind their audience—twenty-five thousand strong at its peak—that Karl Marx had been Jewish. That Marx’s parents had converted from Judaism to Protestantism, that Marx himself embraced atheism, and that Marx wrote works that were borderline anti-Semitic did not seem to bother these white supremacists. To these men, and to Swift and other Christian Identity ministers, the civil rights movement was nothing more than a Jewish–communist plot to advance a satanic agenda—specifically the “mongrelization,” or mixing, of the races.9 Jews were not aspiring to control the United States, but as Swift’s sermon on the Ole Miss riot indicated, they already were controlling the levers of power. The civil rights movement was the strongest sign yet of the tribulation that would herald God’s Armageddon.
Swift called his sermon of September 30, 1962, “As in the Days of Noah,” a reference to the world on the brink of God’s previous great judgment, when he had saved a select few (Noah’s family and the animal kingdom) but had brought his wrath, in the form of the Great Flood, to destroy the remaining sinners in the world. Swift may have bemoaned John F. Kennedy’s “invasion” of Mississippi, but he also hailed the prospects of God’s saving judgment.
It takes too much time to finish a subject like this. But I want you to know that you are in the latter days. “And as it was in the days of Noah” [refers to] a massive program of Satan’s kingdom which is to mongrelize your race. They want to implement this program with troops. They want to back it by every conspiratorial measure that Satan can dream up. And some of these brainwashed people lifting up a standard of self-righteousness which is Satan’s own lie—behind this shield they march to destroy. . . .
I am going to tell you this. [The Lord] is coming in with a long sword and a sharp sickle. And He is coming in to reap the Grapes of Wrath. And to trample the Wine Press of Judgment. I want you to know tonight, that you are a part of this battle. So don’t surrender. Don’t give in. If they are going to try to force your Race with violence, then we shall meet them in like token. Let me assure you of this. That in this occupation, have no fear. For He said: “I shall be like a wall of fire about you.” “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.”
Again, I say that we are not alone. As I said this afternoon, He said—“I shall never leave nor forsake you even until the end of the age.”10
In the passage above, Swift highlights a key difference between conventional millennialism and its variation in radical Christian Identity believers, who favor separatism and a wait-and-see approach to the end-times, and those who favor a more proactive approach to eschatology. For Swift and his followers, there is no time during the tribulation when God will remove the “elect” from the world. Instead, as he notes above, the Anglo-Saxons will “meet them”—the forces of Satan—“in like token.” They would fight violence with violence. This is a major reason why so many followers of CI, then and now, stockpile weapons—to wage war during the end-times.11 When Swift himself died, they found a virtual arsenal at his ranch in Lancaster, California.
Ideas like the Jewish–communist conspiracy, the threat of race mixing, the “real story of the book of Genesis,” and the coming Battle of Armageddon were ubiquitous in Swift’s sermons and teachings. They were motifs in his ministry years before the Ole Miss riot. What Oxford represented for the likes of Stoner and Potito and Gale, in both a spiritual and a practical sense, was the improving prospects for a holy race war. Swift’s end-times theology does not draw any distinctions between members of his Church of Jesus Christ–Christian and the “everyday” Anglo-Saxon Christian. All are supposed to rise up and vanquish the forces of Satan (Jews, racial minorities, and so on). But until the riots at Oxford, there was very little evidence that the wider white race was ready to embrace this kind of fight. There were, without question, open efforts to resist and intimidate civil rights protestors. But almost all the actual violent opposition came from a limited set of individuals in KKK organizations. The Ole Miss riots were the first real instance of serious, widespread violence from rank-and-file whites in the face of integration. Such violence only intensified with the presence of federal marshals. The events suggested that a rabble-rouser such as General Walker could incite a mob, even composed of laypeople with no direct connection to the KKK. Over time, Identity leaders came to see instigation and provocation as the best hope for encouraging a racial holy war.
Tommy Tarrants, a former Swift follower who was intimately connected to several of the most important leaders in various white supremacist organizations, provided valuable insights into the mind-set and strategy of Christian Identity leaders in his autobiography, The Conversion of a Klansman.12 The book documents Tarrant’s evolution from an angst-ridden racist teenager in 1963 Alabama, to the chief terrorist for the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi in 1968, to an ex-convict–turned–ordained minister working for a mainstream Christian organization, the C.S. Lewis Institute.
Angered as a high school senior about the shift toward integration in his hometown of Mobile, Thomas (Tommy) Albert Tarrants III joined the protests against integration in 1963. Soon he found himself inculcated into Christian Identity theology by Admiral John Crommelin and notorious white supremacist Sidney Crockett Barnes.
Tarrants helped spearhead a wave of anti-Jewish and racist bombings in Mississippi from 1967 to 1968, for which he was later arrested and sentenced to thirty years in the Mississippi State Penitentiary (Parchman Farm). But Tarrants had a major religious conversion while incarcerated, forsaking Identity theology to become a follower of mainline evangelical Christianity, and was released on good behavior in 1975. He became a pastor at an interdenominational church in Washington, D.C., and wrote books and gave speeches repenting for his past. Explaining his thought process while a follower of Identity teachings, Tarrants confessed:
Part of the strategy was to create fear in the black community—but it was more important to produce racial polarization and eventual retaliation. This retaliation would then swell the ranks of whites who would be willing to condone or employ violence as a viable response to the racial problem. . . . Our hope and dream was that a race war would come.13
But if fomenting a race war was part of the CI vision, African Americans were not playing along. Time and time again, from the mid-1950s and the Montgomery Bus Boycott through the Freedom Rides in 1961, white racists attacked and harassed African Americans in the most blatant ways possible. But time and time again, the violence and intimidation failed, not only at deterring the civil rights movement but also at engendering a violent response. However easy it was to inflame a white audience, these supremacists had yet to inflame the black community.
If blacks continued to maintain disciplined nonviolence in the face of ongoing attacks, the hopes of creating a cycle of violence that would escalate into a holy race war would remain empty. Events in the spring and summer of 1963, much like the events at Ole Miss in 1962, may have served as yet another cosmic sign that Armageddon was soon approaching.
On May 5, 1963, Swift delivered another sermon, “Armageddon—Local and Worldwide.” Swift announced:
I want you to know that the battle of Armageddon is a worldwide struggle by the powers to overthrow God’s Kingdom. I want you to know that the battle of Armageddon has already been decided although the actual battle has not been launched in its full tempo.14
He echoed all his familiar motifs. For example, the Jewish-led communist conspiracy had led President Kennedy to appease Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev several months before in the Cuban Missile Crisis. What’s more, according to Swift, the communists, far from removing their missiles per a secret agreement, were only reinforcing them. Communists were also plotting to hijack America’s public education system. A Jewish attorney general in Swift’s native state of California, Stanley Mosk, was persecuting Swift’s fellow extremists. And with an eye toward recent news, the “gyprocrat” (a Swift term for a Jewish-controlled hypocrite) Martin Luther King Jr. had “stirred up” the people of Alabama.
King probably would not have disputed this charge. Together with other leaders, such as the Reverend Ralph Abernathy and Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, King had launched a major offensive to desegregate Birmingham, Alabama. Weeks of protests received national attention, especially when King himself was jailed in Birmingham, where he penned his famous letter to sympathetic clergy who were nonetheless critical of the strategy of civil disobedience. He wrote, “I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.”15 Until then, local authorities had largely been successful in containing civil rights protests.
Upon King’s release that April, his advisors suggested something bold: using middle and high school–aged children to protest discrimination. On May 2, 1963, just three days before Swift’s sermon, more than one thousand students cut school and marched from the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church to the Birmingham Public Library, ostensibly to highlight the library’s policies of discrimination. The young protestors were met by law enforcement under the direction of Birmingham’s racist police commissioner Bull Connor, whose men proceeded to use hoses, German shepherds, and clubs on the nonviolent students. Local white supremacists were not happy when the negative publicity surrounding the event shamed Birmingham’s white establishment into a tentative deal aimed at desegregation.
On May 11, 1963, one day after the deal was made, bombs went off at the A.G. Gaston Motel (where Martin Luther King stayed while organizing the Birmingham protests) and at the Birmingham home of the minister’s younger brother, A.D. King (also a major player in civil rights activism). No one was injured, mostly because the targets happened to be late returning from a planning meeting. Still, the bombings triggered the first-ever race riot in the history of Birmingham. Newspapers described a city “under siege.”16 Nearly fifty police officers were injured in a riot that included some twenty-five hundred people. President Kennedy had to amass troops in the surrounding area, but luckily for the president, the situation calmed down in a few days.
No one was ever prosecuted and convicted for the bombing, although police reports seen by the author suggest that the attack was made by Birmingham KKK members with the possible support of the NSRP. But who plotted the attacks may be less important than what they meant to figures like Wesley Swift, J.B. Stoner, or Sam Bowers. In a May 13, 1963, sermon, Swift directly referenced the riots (conveniently avoiding mention of the bombing that precipitated them). In a speech called “Evidence of Divine Assistance,” Swift began, “As we open this service tonight, the federal government is moving. And on orders from the Kennedy Administration, they started flying in troops into McClelland field next to Montgomery, Alabama.” He continued, “I consider that the President of these United States, at the present time, with his present advisors, and the Attorney General of these United States, are the greatest danger for the destruction of our society as anyone on Mr. Khrushchev’s general staff.” Calling the developments in Alabama a communist plot and Martin Luther King Jr. a “fat headed demagogue of the negroes,” Swift also accused King of being a communist tool. Then he asserted,
I am well aware that we are moving into the stages of Armageddon. . . . And I want you to know that being Christian Americans you have the right to defend yourself, your country and your faith. We are the majority, and we are going to keep it that way. . . . Do not ever think that you can save America without direct action. Someone said, “Yes, but Christians do not take direct action.” Don’t you believe this. For Christ is stepping into this situation with the Sword of Judgment in HIS hand, and with direct action. And it will continue until the blood flows to the horses’ bits. And there may be the greatest deliverance that you ever saw. . . . I point this out to you tonight, that these signs of riots and distress, this racial upheaval, are all signs of the climax of an age. When you see these things come to pass, then look up. Remember the prophet Joel said: “When they call on ME, they shall be delivered.”—Every last one whose name was written in the book, before the foundation of this world. Not taken out of the world, but empowered in it.
Many people are praying to be taken out of the world. Sometimes I wish they would. I think the most dangerous people we have are those who do not want to stand up for victory with God.17
Those who wanted to “stand up for victory with God” presumably included Byron de la Beckwith. Born in California in 1920, Beckwith moved to the Mississippi Delta as a young boy. He grew into an outspoken critic of desegregation during the 1950s and eventually became an investigator for the Mississippi White Citizens Council. With groups in most states, these councils were supposedly white-collar manifestations of southern resistance to the civil rights movement, in contrast to the blue-collar Ku Klux Klan, with the former supposedly shunning violence in favor of legal obstruction. That being said, many scholars now recognize that White Citizens Councils worked behind the scenes with KKK groups to accomplish the same ends. It is difficult to say with whom Beckwith was working in June 1963, as the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi, under Bowers’s leadership, had yet to fully form.
On June 12, 1963, Medgar Evers, the Mississippi field organizer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), returned home late from his office in Jackson, Mississippi. Recently Evers had appeared on television to call for greater integration, something that certainly would have enraged white supremacists.
Evers, carrying T-shirts that read “End Jim Crow Now” from his car, moved toward his front door. His wife, Myrlie, was still awake with their young children. She had allowed them stay up to hear President John F. Kennedy deliver a landmark television address, publicly placing the administration squarely behind men like Evers in their push for civil rights. One chronicler, John C. Henegan, described the tragedy that unfolded:
A single rifle shot hit Evers in the back. The sniper’s bullet came out Evers’ chest, shattered the living room window and venetian blinds, blasted through the living room wall, and ended its parabola of death in the Evers’ kitchen, where the police later recovered the bullet. The full length of Evers’ body fell along the concrete driveway, and he began hemorrhaging massively. His wife . . . hearing the rifle shot and shattering of glass . . . came rushing out of the house, kneeling down to comfort him as she cried to the gathering neighbors to call for an ambulance. Evers died shortly after arriving at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. His last words were, “Turn me loose.”18
As one might expect, major civil rights figures, including Martin Luther King Jr., came to mourn Evers. But even King’s presence, following the funeral, could not contain the anger of black Mississippians. After the funeral and an organized protest march, rioting broke out in downtown Jackson, with throngs of angry black students gathering, throwing rocks at law enforcement, and demanding, “We want the murderer” and “Freedom! Freedom.” Law enforcement gathered in a phalanx to put down the rioters. A courageous Justice Department lawyer, John Doar, moved to the front between both parties. Invoking the memory of Medgar Evers, he managed to get the crowd to disperse, preventing what likely would have been a major calamity.
It was thirty years before Byron de la Beckwith was convicted of murdering Medgar Evers. He avoided conviction from two all-white juries in the 1960s but did serve time in the early 1970s for a separate offense—an attempt to bomb the offices of a Jewish attorney in New Orleans. Before going to prison for that offense, Beckwith claimed that members of a satanic conspiracy framed him for the bombing attempt. Years later he would formally declare himself to be a member of the Phineas Priesthood, a Christian Identity offshoot movement.
No one knows what influence Christian Identity ideas had on Beckwith in 1963. But the Reverend Wesley Swift was clearly paying attention to the attack and the subsequent riots. On June 23, in a sermon entitled “The Strategy of the False Prophet,” Swift asserted,
A Negro by the name of Evers, was shot back in Mississippi and they are searching for the White man who shot him. They are calling for the blood of the White man who shot him. . . . I do not buy anything that would embrace the administration for it would be covered up. Today, you are faced with the fact that this racial crisis is hanging like a sword over the heads of our people. . . .
The anti-Christ has captured the Negroes and are using them, for the powers of World Jewry have enmeshed all of the forces of the world against the White race. But the great judgments of God are going to move against it. And remember that God has an appointment with your race. This, my friends, is one of the most important things that you can know and understand. God calls on you to resist. And I challenge every White Christian man to be prepared to defend White Christian womanhood and to resist the powers of darkness. If there is a riot on one end of town and a fire on the other, then White men better be looking for that block that they are moving on. And when these Negroes move on that block to kill and destroy, don’t spare a one.19
Throughout 1963, Swift, who was known to reference astrology as well as the Bible, warned his audience that a major crisis was coming. He predicted that the growing domestic unrest would become so serious that the U.S. government, under the influence of “World Jewry,” would use the disorder as a pretense to invite the United Nations into America as some kind of domestic peacekeeping force. Of course, this would really be a plot on behalf of the Antichrist. With the lessons of Oxford, Birmingham, and Jackson fresh in his mind and in the minds of his congregation, Swift was confident enough to offer his followers a clear time period for this upcoming conflagration: September 1963.