Black church in South Carolina declared landlord of KKK gift shop
A judge in South Carolina has declared a black church to be the lawful owner of a building that is home to a store that peddles Ku Klux Klan paraphernalia -- although it isn't quite clear if the ruling will impede the sale of the racist stuff anytime soon.
The latest chapter in this long, weird and disturbing tale out of Laurens, S.C. -- about an hour northwest of the capital city of Columbia -- comes courtesy of Meg Kinnard of the Associated Press, who reports that Rev. David Kennedy and his New Beginnings church have been declared the rightful owners of an old theater building that houses the Redneck Shop, which trades in Klan robes, T-shirts with ethnic slurs and, according to its website, "bumperstickers, belts, mens and womens [sic] swimsuits, one or two piece, cotton or nylon flags, bird houses, and you name it..."
The ruling will apparently allow Kennedy to inspect the building, something he had been unable to do for years. But Kinnard reports that it isn't clear if the judge's ruling means the shop will be closed.
If it remains open, it will be difficult to imagine a more awkward landlord-tenant relationship.
Kennedy and his church had ownership of the building transferred to them in 1997 after the previous owner, a Klansman, quarreled with his fellow Klan members, particularly the store proprietor. The Klansman gave the building to Kennedy's church after the two developed a "spiritual relationship," according to the judge in the case.
The intra-Klan argument did not concern the more esoteric points of Southern nationalism, nor whether keeping bird houses in stock at a racist tchotchke shop fit with the overall theme. Rather, it was a dispute over a woman.
-- Richard Fausset in Atlanta
Photo: The Rev. David Kennedy, pastor of New Beginnings Baptist Church, stands outside the Redneck Shop in Laurens, S.C., in 2008. Credit: Patrick Collard / Associated Press