Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Charlotte minister took on Klansman

My Monday blog post about white supremacist Frazier Glenn Cross, aka F. Glenn Miller, accused in the killings of three people at two Jewish centers in Overland Park, KS, prompted a response from a retired minister who spoke out against the Ku Klux Klansman in 1986. A passionate and illuminating sermon he gave appeared in the Observer on March 9, 1986, about Miller's brand of hatred. It is being reprinted on our Viewpoint page Wednesday. Here are the responses he wrote to me about the blog post on Monday:

"My name is Harold Bales. I am retired and living in Concord, NC. I am writing to thank you for you column about Glenn Miller.
In the 1980’s I was the Senior Minister at First United Methodist Church in uptown Charlotte. To make a long story short, when Glenn Miller entered politics and with some help from [former Editorial Page Editor] Ed Williams and others at the Observer on my research, I gave a sermon
challenging Miller. The Observer ran a long excerpt of the sermon after which followed a long, threatening telephone harangue from Miller.
There were several letters to the editor. And many, many supportive letters to me. However, there were several breakins at our parsonage — 3 while we were at home — by what we believe to have been his followers in the American White Patriots Party. They were clearly just efforts to intimidate us.

We have remained aware of his activities. At one point, Ed Williams, asked me to stop by his office. He showed me a letter Miller had sent to his followers calling on them to kill, among others, “Jew judges” and “NIgger-loving preachers.” Ed said he thought I should be aware of the letter.

I thank you for your coverage of this man. He is a reminder that certain battles are never fully won and require our eternal vigilance.

Harold Bales"

When I asked Rev. Bales if I could reprint his letter, he said yes and included more details on what happened during that time.

"How well my wife and I remember the first time our parsonage was entered after my sermon appeared in the Observer and I received the telephone call from Miller. He had told me repeated for emphasis that neither he nor his followers had been convicted of harming anyone.
His most chilling comment was that he was trying trying to reach the “rednecks and the youth” of North Carolina.” He demanded to have equal time in my pulpit.
Our conversation lasted 45 minutes. It was chilling in its militaristic language and tone.

At about midnight on the Saturday night after his call, my wife and I were in bed but not yet asleep. We were listening for our sons to come home. We hear noises in the hallway outside our bedroom. Then the door opened. In the darkness 5 men dressed in camouflage entered and stood around our bed. We feigned sleep. They stood there a few seconds, then turned and left. Apparently they picked the lock on our door...

What had prompted my sermon was that some teenagers in my congregation had brought me a telephone number that was circulating at their high school. They asked me to call it and tell them what I thought about it.
It was a recorded campaign statement by Miller. It was perhaps the most vile, racist thing I had ever heard. I quoted it in its entirety in my sermon. After I heard the recorded statement, I researched Miller for 30 days...

On two other occasions people came into our parsonage while we were at home. They apparently just wanted us to know that they could.

Again, thank you for shining light on this sordid tale and tragic event. It is the tip of an iceberg."

- Fannie Flono


Garth Vader said...

Too bad Miller and his boys didn't just order up thousands of drone bombings; they coulda won a Nobel Peace Prize.