The president of a Virginia Ku Klux Klan group claims that the KKK is a faith-based Christian organization that does not condone violence.
"We don't hate people because of their race. We are a Christian organization," Frank Ancona, the imperial wizard of the Traditional American Knights of the KKK, told NBC 12, distancing himself from the Klan's violent history, asserting that he is seeking to "set the record straight."
Despite Ancona's claims, the KKK are widely reviled for their history of committing acts of violence against African Americans, including lighting their homes on fire, lynchings, and leaving burning crosses in the front yards of homes and churches. An organization that was also closely associated with Protestants in its heyday in the 1920s, many of its 4 million members then were also anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic.
That's not the reality, however, acording to Ancona.
"Because of the acts of a few rogue Klansmen, all Klansmen are supposed to be murderers, and wanting to lynch black people and we're supposed to be terrorists. That's a complete falsehood," Ancona said.
Despite their exclusive membership status, Ancona argues that it would be a mistake to call them a hate group.
"We want to keep our race the white race," said Ancona. "We want to stay white. It's not a hateful thing to want to maintain white supremacy."
Earlier this week on Twitter, while talking to a user who expressed interest in joining, Ancona described the KKK as a group that's "not about hate." And asserted that the groups is "about love for God, race and nation." He also claimed that Jesus was not a Jew, and said the crowd only "called him a Jew to mock him," adding, "the Jews killed Christ."
KKK's historical information on the website of Johnny Clary, a former Klansman-turned-pastor, suggests that membership in the white supremacy organization has increased since President Barak Obama entered the Oval Office.
"Since the election of Barack Obama the KKK is now enjoying a huge surge in membership, and there are at least 1,000 white power organizations operating in the United States, either under the name of the Ku Klux Klan or under other names with the exact same agenda and beliefs," it states, adding that the "FBI, SPLC and ADL put support and membership at an all-time alarming rate."
This argument is corroborated by Ancona, who notes, "in the last six years that I've been president of this organization, I've seen the numbers probably triple," and adds that the KKK is recruiting new members.
Currently, KKK members are distributing dozens of flyers across Chesterfield County, the third most populous county in Virginia, located just southwest of Richmond, the capitol.
While NBC 12 said that every individual with whom they talked threw away the Klan recruitment fliers, Ancona said his group's message had been well received.
"The funny thing is the same neighborhoods where you're saying there are people who don't want the flier are neighborhoods where our members live," said Ancona. "And neighborhoods where people are sympathetic to our cause and are glad to hear from us. We get emails from people encouraging us...thanking us for the information."
On his LinkedIn page, Ancona summarizes the work of his organization as striving "to increase awareness of the destruction of our constitutional rights and the plight of the white race in America. We teach traditional American values and keep alive our heritage and culture as Americans."
Ancona lists the American Civil Liberties Union, which has represented the KKK legally from time-to-time, and church ministry and church leadership among his affiliations. He describes his interests as "history, heritage, restoring our republic and Constitution as originally written. ... Educating the true chosen children of God, shining the light of Christ to dispel darkness, ingnorance [sic] and gloom.