The Moral and Religious Klan
It is difficult to determine exactly where religion left off and morality began for the 1920s Klan. The order was an exclusively Protestant organization and, accordingly, religion played an intrinsic role in revised Ku Kluxism--more so in the more religious southern states such as Alabama than in the strong Klans of the Northeast, Midwest, or Far West. Yet most Klan conceptions of conventional morality also derived from the group's understanding of evangelical Protestantism and its dictates on the subject. Like the morality-minded reform wing of the Progressives, which concerned itself with temperance and the movement for prohibition, many in Alabama's second Klan regarded alcohol as an immutable evil that jeopardized home, hearth, community, even personal salvation.1 Such a peril, for some 1920s Knights, had to be eradicated. As with other religion-based crusades, the severity of the perceived threat decreed that virtually no means to combat it was off limits.
The line between civic activity and the sometimes violent policing of Alabama's community morality was similarly indistinct. Concern over community morals sprang from the culture of evangelical Christianity. Anxiety about the moral state of a believer's neighbors had long figured in doctrines and practices, especially those of Calvinism.2 Many in the second Ku Klux Klan saw their civic duty as encompassing the policing of morals in a very basic way. A number of Alabama Knights sincerely believed that they had the right, indeed the duty, to uphold community standards on ethical issues just as they had the civic duty to help enforce secular laws. Moral principles, moreover, had as their source a higher basis than mere man-made laws and statutes. Again, for believers with such a mindset, violence was not out of bounds. It is perhaps just as important to remember, though, that the