Why do KKK burn crosses?
KKK stands for Ku Klux Klan, an organization who identifies themselves as Christians who tries to squeeze under the protected speech of the First Amendment. One of the most notable practices that this organization does is the ‘cross-burning’ ritual. They burn crosses as a symbol of their faith and their belief.
In the USA, ‘cross-burning’ is one of the trademarks of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). They can be recognized by their badges such as Celtic cross and St. John’s cross. They do this ritual as a symbol to terrorize their victims which is completely different compared to how the Scottish or Swedish clans use it.
Contrary to popular belief, the original Ku Klux Klan founded in 1866 which later disbanded in the early 1870’s didn’t burn crosses. They are the Reconstruction-era Klan. Many of their rituals were patterned after those Scottish fraternal orders that used the Fiery Cross (Crann Tara) as a symbol of unity and loyalty, but cross-burning was not part of their repertoire. In fact, there are few actual recorded instances that relate KKK to cross-burning incidents. Cross-burning was only introduced via Thomas Dixon’s novel ‘Birth of a Nation,. Dixon took his inspiration from Scottish clans. During the year 1547, The Scottish clan were the first ones to practice this ritual. The Scottish clan chieftain would dispatch runners carrying Fiery Crosses to assemble the warriors for battle in case there is an attempt to invade or attack their territory.
‘Cross burning’ or ‘cross lighting’ was just introduced to the clan during the time of William J. Simmons, second founder of the clan. In 1915, fifteen of them together with Simmons burned a cross at the top of the Stone Mountain on Thanksgiving Night to inaugurate the new Klan. Later on, he used this ritual to let the other KKK members know the place of their meeting and as a signal to defend their territory from enemies especially those who disagree with their Aryan order.
In conclusion, the KKK just like any other well known organization has their own beliefs and rituals and most of their popular image resulted from various fictional works such as the 1915 movie ‘The Birth of a Nation,, Thomas Dixon’s pro-KKK novel in 1905 ‘The Clansman, and others.