An Alabama state lawmaker who delivered an invocation at a birthday celebration for Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general who was the first great sorcerer of the Ku Klux Klan, has resigned from the church where he is. a pastor, officials said Thursday.
Deputy Will Dismukes, of Prattville, left Hill Pleasant Baptist Church, where he was a bivocational pastor, according to Mel Johnson, the church’s association’s mission strategist.
Dismukes said Thursday on Facebook that he resigned “not at the request of the church, but by election” because he did not want to see Pleasant Hill vote out of the scholarship, NBC affiliate WSFA reported. The post did not appear on Dismukes’ page Thursday night.
Dismukes did not respond to requests for comment.
Dismukes has faced unfortunate criticism for her appearance at Saturday’s annual event at “Fort Dixie,” a Selma woman’s private home, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“He had a great time at Fort Dixie speaking and giving the invocation for Nathan Bedford Forrest’s annual birthday celebration,” he wrote in a Facebook post that was later removed, according to WFSA. “Always a good time and a good amount of safe food !!”
The appearance of Dismukes occurred a day before the civil rights body Rep. John Lewis was transferred to the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, where he was assassinated almost 55 years ago during a voting rights march.
On Monday, Alabama Republican Party President Terry Lathan called Dismukes’ actions “deeply offensive.”
“It is something to honor the southern heritage itself, however, it is a completely different issue to specifically commemorate the leader of an organization with an indisputable history of unconscious actions and atrocities towards African Americans,” he said in a statement.
“Today’s Alabama was in full honorable display as we paid a humble tribute this weekend to the life of Congressman John Lewis,” Lathan added. “It is Alabama that we are proud of, showing the nation and the world that we are one of the common goals of the equality of all our citizens.”
In an interview with WFSA on Monday, Dismukes blamed the reaction on “anti-southern sentiment.”
“There was no shooting at the pace of Rep. John Lewis,” Dismukes said. “I mean it didn’t even cross my mind. I was literally just reflecting on the events of a previous day and it was taken in a completely different way that I didn’t see exactly coming and I take responsibility for that.”
He told the station that he has no plans to resign from the state legislature.