The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Texas’ Appleby Baptist Church Pushes Racist Doctrine

By Marilyn Elias on April 25, 2013 - 5:07 pm, Posted in Anti-Black, Christian Right, Extremist Propaganda

“The curse of Ham,” an old-time Biblical (mis)interpretation used to vilify black people and justify slavery and laws against racial intermarriage, is still alive and spreading bigotry in the United States.

The Appleby Baptist Church in Nacogdoches, Texas, is among this country’s scattered, independent fundamentalist churches still openly promoting the idea that the Biblical Noah pronounced a curse on descendants of his son, Ham. Ham had sexually molested Noah as he slept in a drunken stupor, and Noah realized it, the story goes. The curse ultimately fell on Canaan, Noah’s grandson, whose descendants were black and fated to be an underclass of slaves, according to this version of the Bible, which has been widely discredited by mainstream religious scholars.

But the canard is trumpeted loud and clear in an online statement of conviction by Appleby leaders. The East Texas church, 90 miles from Shreveport, La., is “a bit of a throwback, but these people are still out there,” Rachel Tabachnick, a fellow at the think tank Political Research Associates, told Hatewatch. She researches the impact of the religious right on politics and society.

For hundreds of years, the so-called curse of Ham was frequently taught by religious leaders as the source for racial differences, and in more recent times was seized on as a Biblical excuse for segregation and slavery, said Tabachnick. “There’s been a shift, and you don’t often see churches that are this forthright now, but the underlying theme is still there in fundamentalist holdout churches.”

The Appleby church, whose pastor could not immediately be reached for comment, proclaims a litany of racist beliefs on its website: The black descendants of Ham like fair-skinned women, of course. And “the proof of the presence of God among the Israelites was the absence of the black skinned folk of Canaan …  It is obvious God is a separator, not a mixer. It is God who set the boundaries.”

And who’s in favor of the races mixing? The church knows: “Satan wants to eliminate color by interracial marriages. Someone will ask why do we have to see color when we look at one another? Why can’t we just see each other as people? The same reason you see a Poodle, German Shepherd, Beagle, etc. God made us different and set the bounds. You don’t get thoroughbreds by taking the fences down. You get thoroughbreds by putting the fences up.”

In case you don’t get the meta-message about thoroughbreds versus mongrels, the church’s statement mangles a Biblical passage in Matthew in which a Canaanite woman pleads with Christ on behalf of her daughter, who is assumed by the Appleby church to be black. “Christ terms her people as dogs,” the church says. “‘It is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it to dogs.’ … Unlike modern day blacks yelling about equal rights, this woman humbles herself and says ‘Truth Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from the master’s table.’”

The bottom line: Why don’t blacks know their place? Read the Bible!

Hewing to an extreme fundamentalist principle, Appleby condemns ancient Hebrews for “immorality, idolatry, and interracial marriages.” We’re seeing the punishment to this day, it insists. “Interracial relationships bring much heartache. … Before the coming of Christ, there will be many more half-breed producing marriages that will, in turn, produce more hate and envy against what the Lord has commanded.”

In case you wondered where the love of Christ fits in with all this, the church has an answer: “In Salvation, ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.’ In salvation, there is no difference, but when it comes to marriage, there is.”

Finally, for proponents of our 13th Amendment, the church helpfully reminds us that slavery is fine with God. “The New Testament does not condemn slavery,” it says. “What it does condemn is the misuse of a slave.”

Although such overt racism is certainly waning in fundamentalist Christianity, especially in the Southern Baptist Convention (which now has a black president for the first time), Tabachnick worries about remaining outposts.

And there’s great concern about the increased teaching of Biblical literalism to thousands of U.S. children. Homeschooling is on the upswing, and public dollars are flowing into private schools through vouchers and corporate tax credit programs, she points out. In textbooks used by students in these programs “some of the foundations for the Biblical justification of racism and slavery are still being widely taught,” Tabachnick said.

So the same seeds of hatred proudly displayed by Appleby and an unknown number of other independent fundamentalist churches are scattering, planted to grow in coming generations.

  • George

    Dennis Anderson, another sign of the coming of the anti-Christ.

  • Angelo

    The story of Noah’s sons, as described in the Bible reflects the ideology of Israel over its neighbors and justifies its claim as chosen people of God. It’s clearly a political and ideological vision of a conflict in which has not been resolved . Perhaps Noah has not said or thought anything that the Bible ascribes to it. But the wise chroniclers who wrote it thought and created a myth of dire consequences for the future of mankind, and especially of his own people. Maybe they did not imagine that this same ideology, coined and advocated by the chroniclers of Israel, in order to give his people a divine origin and a noble genealogy, would bring them many annoyances in the future. And it was exactly this idea of distinguishing origin of the people of Israel that the Nazis would explore, thousands of years later, to try to eliminate the people of Israel from the face of the earth. But that is another story

  • Kevininvan

    I feel that he is entitled to his beliefs as are the rest of us. I know I myself prefer to live near whites as opposed to blacks but I don’t feel the need to tell others that I feel this way.

  • Erika

    Sam, the theology displayed in Chick Tracts is one which scarely resembles any church i have ever been in – and i’ve been in some pretty right wing churches :)

    There are some Chick Tracts which address homosexuality – including the extremely infamous tract “Lisa” which depicts a woman improbably telling her husband its okay that he was raping their very young daughter because when she was that age she was raped by her gay uncle – most of which end with the homosexuals either converting by prayer to become religious fundamentalists who marry women and burn books or being cast into the Lake of Fire because Jack T. Chick is almost as far out there as Fred Phelps.

    But it sounds like you have a good parody idea :)

  • http://yahoo ben

    i get tired of hearing the extremist white right talk about race mixing and having to live with people of color,but if it were not because the white europeans invaded the lands of the people of color around the world this would not have it seems that they hold all the blame for this they can curse there forefathers for the dire situation they think they find themselves in today.

  • concernedcitizen

    funny John

  • concernedcitizen

    correction: It’s the stuff nightmares are made of…

  • concernedcitizen

    kiwiwriter your post: My wife, who raises dogs, pointed out the same thing: pure-bred dogs invariably manifest all the negative recessive genes through inbreeding, whereas mutts manifest all the positive dominant genes, and have fewer health issues.

    This is true in many breeds. That’s why I find it amusing at how stupid people can be when they spread lies about pure breeding etc., etc.,

    If they had any background in genetics they would understand the need to mix, and how it actually improves many genetic traits in many species of the animal kingdom. Man is not excluded.

    And quite honestly some of these people who I have witnessed rallying racists agenda’s should be quite happy if anyone outside of their own family would want to breed with them. It the stuff nightmares are made of…

  • Reynardine

    Sam, until the late Sixties, hard liquor was very much a part of our culture. If you’ve ever seen Brigadoon, the first thing the hero’s twentieth century fiancée does is order herself a Manhattan. Nowadays, that would mark her as a lush, but back then, high-octane cocktails in the afternoon were normal social fare for both men and women, and the majority of adult parties were cocktail parties. It was understood that nice people didn’t do that before five o’clock, that’s all.

    Meanwhile, I direct people’s attention to the following link:

  • Sam Molloy

    Erika, Chick tracts attempted to show Christian doctrine, or a version of it, in a humorous way and even people who hate them obviously read them. We need a new Gay Affirming batch of tracts now, to lead Gay people TO the love of Jesus and not AWAY from Him. And put the new brand on a race car.

  • aadila

    Georgia Citizen, before you go rallying to defend the first amendment you might want to wait for someone to attack the rights therein established. It’s a shame that free and public education was wasted on you. You should pay back the state every penny.

  • Erika

    Sam, are you trying to say that Jack T. Chick is not in league with Satan (oopsie, i mean an expert in Satan’s preferences)?

  • GemGirl

    Georgia Citizen — People believing what they want is one thing. Imposing it onto others is totally different. They have no right to determine what “place” blacks should have. Who made them God?

    These people teaching this racist nonsense are some of sickest, most pathological people on the planet and they have no clue of just how ignorant they really are. White children raised in this church will be warped if their parents do not intervene properly.

  • Sam Molloy

    Erika, on Bewitched only Endora is evil. That and the fact that they all drink all the time.

  • Georgia Citizen


    I disagree with your comments. The last time I checked the U.S. Constitution, under the first admendment.These people have a right to believe as they please.You say let’s expose them? If that’s the case. Let’s expose everyone who is a satanist. Fair is fair.

  • Erika

    Having displaced my “crazy to English” dictionary, i’m trying to figure out exactly how Satan plans to eliminate “color” through interracial marriage. Wouldn’t interracial marriage actually create a much more colorful population?

    i’m also wondering why Satan cares about eliminating white people since according to the best available sources for Satan’s preferences (Chick Tracts, Bob Larsen, Rev. Don Wildmon, etc.) Satan or as he is known professionally in the music business, Lou Siffer, is into playing with Owiji boards, playing Dungeons and Dragons (which if it wasn’t for the Christian Right scare tactics i never would have even heard of), watching Bewitched (and television in general), reading Harry Potter books, and of course listening to Heavy Metal music. Looking at the list of Satan’s preferences it seems that Satan actually prefers white people and would not want to eliminate them.

    In fact, according to the experts on what Satan likes, Satan sounds suspiciously stuck in the 1980s (okay, i guess that telling everyone that Harry Potter will lead to kids worshipping Satan puts them only about a decade behind the times). So no doubt in Hell the cartoon demons are always playing Dugeons and Dragons, watching “I Love the 1980s,” and playing Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, and Slayer records backwards. And as Jack T. Chick says, it just won’t be a party in Hell. Seriously, i’d much prefer being cast into a Lake of Fire.

    You’d think that the experts on Satan would have moved on to warning us of the dangers of Justin Bieber or Lil Wayne by now or something (actually i expect given the general up to date nature of the Christian Right Satanic Panic this will probably happen around the year 2020 – although perhaps even the Christian right would realize how unnecessary it is to point out that Justin Bieber and Lil Wayne are evil because pretty much everyone over the age of 13 already knows it). The always up to date Christian Right is also likely to in about 5 to 10 years start attacking the obviously created by Satan himself menace of Auto-Tune.

  • Erika

    Poor naive Aron, what you call “puppy kisses” are really the dog licking you to see how you taste and determine if you are worth eating.

    Fortunately for you, dogs prefer to eat cute girls named Erika (we are made of sugar and spice and everything nice after all). Of course, the preference of dogs to eat cute girls named Erika is very unfortunate for me ;)

  • majii

    This pastor doesn’t fully understand the purpose of the exchange between Jesus and the woman with the sick kid. The purpose of his short conversation with her was to determine certain things about her character and faith. It had nothing whatsoever to do with dogs or breeds of dogs. When she responded that even the dogs get the scraps from the master’s table, it let Jesus know that she believed he had the ability to help her. This pastor is why I decided to read/study the Bible. When one of these bible busters starts talking, I can determine immediately whether they know what they’re talking about and whether they understood what they read in the Bible. There are too many ignorant persons posing as pastors and leaders who have no earthly idea about what they’re doing/saying.

    The following struck me as being applicable to this pastor:

    “You don’t get thoroughbreds by taking the fences down. You get thoroughbreds by putting the fences up.”

    In his world, up is always down, and down is always up. The poor soul lacks the ability to realize that he can never be a thoroughbred because he’s always been on the wrong side of the fence.

  • Kiwiwriter

    I’m amused by his determination to raise “thoroughbreds.”

    I guess he sees life as a horse race, and God is the “big bookie in the sky.”

    My wife, who raises dogs, pointed out the same thing: pure-bred dogs invariably manifest all the negative recessive genes through inbreeding, whereas mutts manifest all the positive dominant genes, and have fewer health issues.

    Very often they unite the best of their breeds. This is especially true of our latest dog, a shelter rescue who is 50 percent Rottweiler, 25 percent Golden Retriever, and 25 percent Jack Russell, according to the genetic test. So he has the size and strength of a Rottie and the warm and gentle disposition of a Golden Retriever, and the smarts of a Jack Russell…the finest and funniest dog we have ever had in our 18 years of marriage.

  • concernedcitizen

    Aron I absolutely adore most all dogs, but when it comes to kisses they need to reserve themselves to hugs with me because I know where their noses have been.

    Puppies, may be okay they haven’t had time to become completely disgusting about where they put there noses.

  • Nisan

    That preacher should read his King James Bible!!!! Canaan, the son of Ham was cursed, NOT Ham.(Gen 9:25) Ham was in fact Blessed by God(Gen 9:1).Since there are no Canaanites left in the world today, this curse applies to none today.
    The preacher should also read in the same Bible that when Moses took a Black woman as a wife, God punished those who criticised Moses for this with leprosy(Numbers12:1-10). Interracial Marriage is obviously fine with God, Racism is NOT!
    The problem with many Fundamentalist preachers is that they never read the ENTIRE Bible, only the parts they like!!!

  • Sam Molloy

    To further clarify the “literal” doctrine at the Creation Museum, after God struck down the Tower of Babel, creating the different races, the story goes, there was never any admonition against mixing of races, except for the Jews to not marry Gentiles. This rule was broken several times in order to save the Jewish people, the most famous being the story of Queen Esther. 50 years ago a lot of these same people probably agreed with the Appleby Baptist Church in this story. In another 50 years they might accept the story of David and Jonathan and Jesus healing the Centurion’s lover.

  • stephen matlock

    So I wrote a (not very good) novel about racial conflicts set in this area of Texas because I wanted to pick a place that was fairly unknown–that way I could be free to be dramatic and over-emphasize things, and because surely–surely!–nothing could ever be that bad, people would know it was art, that I was making stuff up in order to make a point. Or so I thought.

    This real church has my novel beat by a mile when it comes to how humans can be crazy with their religious beliefs. I just can’t be as creative as real people are.

  • John

    thank god i’m an atheist

  • Reynardine

    The Curse of Ham is nitrites, polysorbylglopylbutylate, and meat glue.

  • concernedcitizen

    Oh and yes, mutts make the best pets!

  • concernedcitizen

    It’ always amazing to me when people use these comparisons with animals, breeding, etc. when trying to support racism and segregation. It’s always apparent that they haven’t a clue about animal breeding, genetics, science.

    If they only realized how absolutely ignorant they sound to those who are learned on the topics. It’s a frightening thing to listen to such narrow mindedness, you find yourself wanting to run out of the room hoping that you don’t ever catch whatever has diseased their minds.

    And yes, the curse of ham does include making it taste so good, and the way it sticks to our bellies, buttocks, thighs and our arteries. :)

  • Sam Molloy

    Absolutely, about the mutts. No doubt it applies to people as well.

  • Zexks

    Every single person that goes to these churches should be exposed to the public through the net. Let the rest of their neighbors, friends and families know exactly who and what they are.

  • Aron

    He also has the softest ears in the world.

  • Aron

    Erika, the only reason you should be scared of Bones-a-dog is if you dislike puppy kisses.

    And NO ONE dislikes puppy kisses ;-)

  • Georgia Citizen


    I agree with you and mutts (mixed breeds) makes the most loyal and loving dogs.

  • Leliel

    @ Robert

    Perhaps the right lobe and the left lobe of your brain should not be separated.

    This isn’t libertarianism, it’s racism. He’s violating boundaries right there.

  • Erika

    concerncitizen, you could be right, but i thought that the “Curse of Ham” was when God cursed pigs by making them taste so delicious.

    And Aron, your dog sounds perfectly terrifying :P

  • Robert

    While a sermon should always focus on Christ, this sermon seems to focus on setting boundries in one’s life which is equally important. Granted, a better platform could have been chosen besides that of race, but it seems to me this article implys that the scope of “freedom of Religon” and “freedom of speech” should be limited to the writers own perspective.

  • Aron

    And yet mixed-breed dogs almost always lead longer, healthier lives. Hmmm…

    My beloved Bones is a beagle-border collie, with a little bit of fox hound.

    He is almost twelve years old. And he still acts like a puppy.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    ” The same reason you see a Poodle, German Shepherd, Beagle, etc.God made us different and set the bounds.”

    God didn’t make poodles, German shepards, or Beagles.

    ” You don’t get thoroughbreds by taking the fences down. You get thoroughbreds by putting the fences up.”

    Exactly- HUMANS, not God, make thoroughbreds by a process of artificial breeding of a domesticated animal.

  • Leliel

    Not only is he wrong about theology, he’s wrong about dog breeds too. A mutt’s mixed heritage results in a healthier dog due to a deeper, stronger genome and less recessive genetic diseases.

    And so is he when it comes to horses too: Warmbloods may be rather dim and stubborn when young, but they’re some of the sweetest, most loyal horses around.

    In other words, he’s a failure on all counts and probably needed some miscegenation in his heritage. Better, more genetically diverse brain genes.

  • concernedcitizen

    I think I should mention here that the real curse of Ham is when you overeat it, and it starts gathering as cellulite on ones buttocks and thighs.

  • concernedcitizen

    This is very sad and I feel sorry for the children of such blatant idiots. I have an intolerance for embraced stupidity, you know those who run around proudly displaying how incredibility stupid they are…

    But it is really insufferable to see fools running around trying to use the Bible and God to support their inane ignorance.

    There is a statement here that raises the question ‘why don’t blacks know their place”, the correct question that needs to raised here is;

    “why don’t these village idiots know THEIR place?”

    Things start to go terribly wrong when the village idiots are elected as spiritual leaders. And if anything, that is where God’s alleged curse would lie because we have not made it illegal for racist idiots to hold positions of power, especially that within schools and churches.

  • concernedcitizen

    To call these people a bit of a throw back is far too kind, anyone who believes the crap that God cursed black people or any person of color is a complete idiot.

  • Sam Molloy

    Even the literal interpretation of Genesis at Kentucky’s Creation Museum includes the doctrine that people were of one race until the Tower of Babel fell, at which moment people started speaking different languages, presumably sorted out by God by characteristics that would develop into the different races we have today.