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A modern-day church promotes old-school racism

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The Happy Valley Church of Jesus Christ, a nondenominational house of worship in Johnston, Tenn., actively promotes racial purity in its sermons, a recently-released video shows.

The particular sermon is from April 2013, but was not available outside the church’s website until Feb. 7, 2014.

In criticism of interracial marriage, Pastor Donny Reagan quotes early 20th Century evangelistic minister William Branham, who claimed to be a prophet and a healer, and upon whose teachings Happy Valley Church is based.

Hybreeding, hybreeding, oh, how terrible, hybreeding. They hybreed the people.

According to Rachel Tabachnick, an investigative researcher on religion’s influence on American politics:

Branham was a ‘faith healer’ and evangelist of the 1950s who went off the deep end near the end of his life with his ‘serpent seed’ interpretation of the bible. He claimed that Eve had sex with the devil and started a demonic line of humans on earth.

Continuing his Branham quote, Reagan offered:

You know it's a big molding pot. I've got hundreds of precious colored friends that's borned again Christians. But on this line of segregations and things they're talking about, hybreeding the people. What, tell me what fine cultured, fine Christian colored woman would want her baby to be a mulatto by a white man? No, sir. It's not right. What white woman would want her baby to be a mulatto by a colored man? God made us what we are. Let's stay what God made us; I believe it's right.

Reagan then deliberately misquotes other lines from the same Branham speech, seemingly to encourage response from members of the church:

Let the brown race marry the white race.

When objection from the assembly is only mild, Reagan says:

Well, I guess we should all dismiss and go to Taco Bell.

He then continues accurate recital of the same Branham speech:

Let the brown race marry the brown race, the white race marry the white race, the dark race, the yellow race and whatevermore, stay the way God made them.

He also quotes another Branham address from the same era that appears more direct in racial intolerance.

Today, we have so much fussing and strewing about this segregation of white and colored and everything. Why don’t they leave it alone? Let it the way God made it.

Persons claiming to be former members of Happy Valley Church recently offered criticism on a Topix site from that Tennessee region.

The church confines its female members, they say, disallowing women to cut their hair or wear makeup. Divorced persons are prohibited from dating, they allege, and face counseling from the church if they do. Members are told they are superior to other Christians, some say.

Despite its call for racial purity, on its website the church claims it has members who emigrated from Africa.

Happy Valley Church is not the only faith-based organization to argue against interracial marriage recently, unfortunately.

South Carolina’s Bob Jones University, a nondenominational Protestant school, had written policy against interracial dating by its students until 2000.

In 2011 a Kentucky Baptist church voted to ban interracial couples from participating in its services. Following public protest, less than two weeks later the church reversed its ruling.

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