An Alabama lawmaker who invited Nathan Bedford Forest, a Confederate general who was the first great wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, to a birthday party, resigned from the church where he is pastor, officials said Thursday.
The Rev. Will Dismook of Pratville retired from Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, where he was a bilateral pastor, according to Mel Johnson, a leading strategist on the church association mission.
Dismukes said on Facebook on Thursday that he had resigned “not at the request of the church, but by choice” because he did not want to see Pleasant Hill voted by comrades, the NBC affiliate WSFA reported. The post did not appear on the Dismukes page on Thursday night.
Dismook did not respond to requests for comment.
Dismook is facing declining criticism for appearing at Saturday’s annual event at Fort Dixie, the private home of a Selma woman, according to the Legal Center for Poverty.
“A pleasant stay at Fort Dixie spoke and called for the annual celebration of Nathan Bedford Forest’s birthday,” he wrote in a Facebook post that was later removed, according to the WFSA. “Always great weather and some sure enough good food !!”
Dismock’s appearance happened the day before the body of the civil rights rap icon. John Lewis to be transported over the Edmund Pettys Bridge to Selma, where he was nearly killed 55 years ago during a voting campaign.
On Monday, Alabama Republican Chairman Terry Latton called Dismux’s actions “deeply offensive.”
“It’s one thing to honor the southern heritage, but it’s quite another to mention the leader of an organization with an indisputable history of unscrupulous acts and atrocities against African Americans,” he said in a statement.
“Alabama had a full, honorable report today, as we paid a modest tribute to the life of Congressman John Lewis this weekend,” Laton added. “This is Alabama that we are proud of – to show the nation and the world that we are one of the common goals of equality for all our citizens.”
In an interview with WFSA on Monday, Dismukes blamed the reaction on “anti-southern sentiment”.
“It wasn’t a shot at the crossing of Representative John Lewis,” Dismook said. “I mean, it didn’t even cross my mind, I was literally really thinking about the events of the day before, and it was accepted in a completely different way that I didn’t see exactly how it was coming and I was taking responsibility for it.”
He told the station that he had no plans to resign from the state legislature.