Heroes of the Fiery Cross

Heroes of the Fiery Cross is a book in praise of the Ku Klux Klan, published in 1928 by Protestant Bishop Alma Bridwell White, in which she "sounds the alarm about imagined threats to Protestant Americans from Catholics and Jews", according to author Peter Knight.[1] In the book she asks rhetorically, "Who are the enemies of the Klan? They are the bootleggers, law-breakers, corrupt politicians, weak-kneed Protestant church members, white slavers, toe-kissers, wafer-worshippers, and every spineless character who takes the path of least resistance."[2][3] She also argues that Catholics are removing the Bible from public schools.[4] Another topic is her anti-Catholic stance towards the United States presidential election of 1928, in which Catholic Al Smith was running for president.[2]

Heroes of the Fiery Cross
AuthorAlma Bridwell White
IllustratorBranford Clarke
SubjectsAnti-Catholicism, antisemitism, nativism and white supremacy
PublisherPillar of Fire Church
Publication date
Preceded byKlansmen: Guardians of Liberty (1926) 
Followed byHymns and Poems (1931) 


White was the author of more than 35 books published by the Pillar of Fire Church.[5] In her writings and sermons her political views consisted of a mixture of women's equality, anti-catholicism, antisemitism, racism, nativism and white supremacy.[2][4] The book is a compendium of essays written by White and of illustrations by Reverend Branford Clarke that were originally published in the pro-Ku Klux Klan political periodical The Good Citizen, one of the numerous periodicals published by the Pillar of Fire Church at their communal headquarters in Zarephath, New Jersey.

The book contains an introductory letter of commendation from Hiram Wesley Evans, the then Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Heroes is the final work in a series of three books White published to promote the Klan. The other books were The Ku Klux Klan in Prophecy in 1925, and Klansmen: Guardians of Liberty, in 1926. White republished her Klan books as a three-volume set in 1943, three years before her death and 21 years after her initial association with the Klan, under the title Guardians of Liberty.

The book include essays with titles such as Roman Catholic-Hebrew Alliance; Mussolini, Rome, and Reds; and Immigration and White Supremacy.[6]

White supremacyEdit

Alma White emphatically expresses her sympathy for former slaveowners since they were not compensated for their loss of "property" following the American Civil War. She expresses her fear and distress toward ongoing racial mixing and uses biblical citations as divine justification for white supremacy.[6]

The slave-holder, in many instances, was as much to be pitied as the slaves, but the Northerners could not see this. He (the slave-holder), too, was a victim of the system, often having inherited slaves along with his plantation. Where the slaves were well treated they were happy and contented, and their owners found consolation in this, using it as an argument in support of the institution. But some radicals could never see this side of the question. They dwelt continually on the cruelties of a few hard taskmasters and ignored the good people who had the welfare of their dependents at heart. It was hard for the Southerners to be reconciled to this spirit so widely manifested in the North. No matter what the better class of slave-owners might do, they had to bear the stigma and cruelty with the worst of tyrants. ...

A strong attachment as a rule existed between the negro servants and their masters which could not be easily broken. When it came time to taking away a colored "Mammy" who had brought up the children of her white master, even nursing them at her own breast in an extremity, here was more involved than a Northerner could readily comprehend. This aspect of slavery was never taken into serious consideration by hot-headed Abolitionists who tried to foment war and bring about disunion. ...

White supremacy is an issue of great importance. If some of the colored people are not curbed in their ambition to mix their blood with that of the white race, it will not be long until there will be no such thing as definite racial lines. The Negroes are going north and settling indiscriminately among the whites. Property values are being depreciated by this influx of colored immigration. But little sympathy was shown the South when a race of colored slaves was liberated among them. The North had no conception of what it meant for the white people of the South to preserve the color and racial lines, considering the fact that in some places the population was about equally divided, and there was no cooperation from the North to be had in the struggle. ...

The Book of Genesis, in its account of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, sons of Noah, teaches the supremacy of the white race. Ham saw the nakedness of his father, but made no effort to cover him, and a curse was pronounced upon him and his posterity. Noah awoke from his wine and said, "Cursed be Canaan [Ham]; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren." "Blessed be the Lord of God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant." "God shall enlarge Japheth [the white race], and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant" (Gen. 9:25-27). This edict was imposed by a wise and just God, and should not work a hardship on the black race. It cannot be otherwise than it should be for their good. Until the curse is lifted from the human race, the very best position that the sons of Ham could be placed in is that of servants (not slaves), thus establishing white supremacy as foretold more than four thousand years ago. ...[6]

External linksEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Kristin E. Kandt, "Historical Essay: In the Name of God; An American Story of Feminism, Racism, and Religious Intolerance: The Story of Alma Bridwell White," in The American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law 8.3 (2000): 753-794
  • Lynn S. Neal, "Christianizing the Klan: Alma White, Branford Clarke, and the Art of Religious Intolerance," in Church History 78.2 (June 2009): 350-378.
  • White, Alma (1925). The Ku Klux Klan in Prophecy. Pillar of Fire.
  • White, Alma (1926). Klansmen: Guardians of Liberty. Pillar of Fire.
  • Stanley, Susie Cunningham (1993). Feminist Pillar of Fire: The Life of Alma White. The Pilgrim Press. ISBN 0-8298-0950-3.
  • Blee, Kathleen M. (1991). Women of the Klan. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-07876-5.


  1. ^ Peter Knight (2003). Conspiracy theories in American history: an encyclopedia, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1-57607-812-4. Bishop Alma White, Heroes of the Fiery Cross (1928) In this excerpt from his [sic] Ku Klux Klan book Heroes of the Fiery Cross, Bishop Alma White sounds the alarm ...
  2. ^ a b c David B. Woolner and Richard G. Kurial (2003). FDR, the Vatican, and the Roman Catholic Church in America, 1933–1945. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 59. ISBN 1-4039-6168-9. Bishop Alma White of the KKK was the author of Heroes of the Fiery Cross, written in 1928 at the height of the presidential campaign. ...
  3. ^ Robert A. Slayton (2001). Empire statesman: the rise and redemption of Al Smith. Simon & Schuster. p. 316. ISBN 0-684-86302-2. Bishop Alma White, author of Heroes of the Fiery Cross, explained, "Who are the enemies of the Klan? They are the bootleggers, law-breakers, ...
  4. ^ a b Wyn Craig Wade (1998). The fiery cross: the Ku Klux Klan in America. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-512357-3. ... [In] Heroes of the Fiery Cross arguing that Catholic pressure had removed the Bible from public schools, White warned that unless America fought Rome, ...
  5. ^ "Bishop Alma White, Preacher, Author; Founder Of Pillar Of Fire Dies at 84. Established Several Schools And Colleges". Associated Press in New York Times. June 27, 1946. Retrieved 2007-07-21. Bishop Alma White, founder of the Pillar of Fire Church and author of thirty-five religious tracts and some 200 hymns, died here today at the headquarters of the religious group at near-by Zarephath. Her age was 84.
  6. ^ a b c Alma White (1928). Heroes of the Fiery Cross. Pillar of Fire Church.