Africans to UMC libs: We will embrace 'Klan' cross

Friday, September 25, 2020
Steve Jordahl (

UMC logoThe liberal wing of the soon-to-split United Methodist Church wants to do away with the denomination's logo that is more than a half-century old.

The cross represents Christ with two red flames coming from the base, representing the Holy Spirit, but some see something else: a horrific reminder of the Klan's reign of racial terror. 

Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy calls it “ridiculous” to equate the two crosses especially since the UMC logo didn't raise a single concern since it was introduced in 1968. 

Tooley has documented and fought UMC’s liberal drift for decades, and he is now witnessing the denomination split over the issue of biblical authority and homosexuality. Under the current agreement, which will likely be formalized next year, the liberal side of the denomination gets to retain the structures of the denomination, which includes the now-controversial logo.

Black pastor pushed for change

In just a matter of months, the once-cherished logo is now considered controversial by the majority-white Methodists who find themselves in the middle of nationwide racial unrest and accusations of “white privilege.”

Klan rally (black and white pic)The push to change the logo appears to trace back to a July commentary written by Rev. Edlen Cowley, a black pastor from Texas. He compared the UMC logo to his own experience as a 10-year-old watching a Klan cross burning in Shreveport, Louisiana. 

"My mind went back to that burning cross I saw on the side of the freeway — a symbol my mother told me was devised to cause fear in black people," he wrote. 

In early September, citing the pastor's commentary, the North Texas Annual Conference voted 558-176 to ask the 2021 Global Conference to change the logo, UM News reported this week. 

Black Africans still embrace it

Meanwhile, the denomination’s conservatives such as Tooley are calling the decision to drop the logo a “providential” one for the battling conservatives.

“That was going to be a potential problem,” he says, “when our denomination split, likely next year, that the liberal church was going to keep the logo.”

Tooley, Mark (IRD)The irony is not lost on Tooley that the “progressive” Methodists in the U.S. will likely drop the historic logo which will be embraced by African Methodists, who cherish it and who have been the liberal wing’s most vocal foes in recent years.

“Now that the liberal church wants to, apparently, get rid of the logo,” he says, “that will free it up to be used by the Methodists in Africa. So that's good news.”

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