By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News
State Rep. Will Dismukes, who over the weekend participated in a birthday celebration of a late Ku Klux Klan leader, has resigned from his position as a pastor at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Prattville.
The resignation was reported Wednesday by The Alabama Baptist.
Since Sunday, Dismukes, R-Prattville, has faced heavy criticism and calls for his resignation after he posted on Facebook a picture of himself giving an invocation at a celebration Saturday of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate General and first Grand Wizard of the Klan.
Dismukes’ response to the controversy, blaming “anti-Southern sentiment” and saying he didn’t know Forrest’s connection to the Klan, further angered some. Fellow Prattville GOP lawmaker Sen. Clyde Chambliss called on Dismukes to resign.
A flyer for the Forrest celebration said it was an “opportunity to experience the truth about our history, our heritage and our hero Nathan Bedford Forrest.” It also mentions a “pickaninny freeze watermelon stand.”
Dismukes, a member of the Prattville Dragoons: Sons of Confederate Veterans, has said he’s not giving up his Alabama House seat, WSFA reported earlier this week.
According to The Alabama Baptist, church leadership met earlier this week with Dismukes.
“We are saddened and grieved to learn of the recent Facebook post by state Rep. Will Dismukes. … In the wake of tremendous controversy we reaffirm our opposition to any kind of racism,” said Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.
Mel Johnson, the lead mission strategist for Autauga Baptist Association, of which Pleasant Hill is a member, said church leadership was “caught in the midst of this issue that has drawn national attention.”
He said immediate effort was made to connect with Dismukes on behalf of church leadership to mitigate controversy surrounding this issue.
“I am also thankful that Autauga Baptist churches can move forward and remain focused toward Great Commission efforts to communicate the gospel and reach our world for Christ,” Johnson said.
“Scripture is clear that all people are created in God’s image and therefore equal in every way before Christ and our personal need of Him as Savior and Lord.”
Meanwhile, Democrats in the Alabama House have said DIsmukes can’t praise the KKK and represent Alabamians in the State House.
On Twitter Wednesday, Rep. Napoleon Bracy, D-Prichard, on Wednesday repeated calls that Dismukes should resign.
“You have my 100% commitment that if he doesn’t resign I will fight him and give him HELL every opportunity (I) get!” Bracy said.
Dismukes was elected in 2018 to the district that includes portions of Autauga and Elmore counties. His House committee assignments include education policy and agriculture and forestry.