A minister for more than four decades, John Weaver is a religious mainstay of the racist neo-Confederate movement and a man who has recently become a leading proponent of training Christians for armed battle.
Weaver, who earned a bachelor’s in theology from Bob Jones University (which until 2000 banned interracial dating), is the pastor of Freedom Baptist Ministries in Fitzgerald, Ga., and preaches weekly in Waycross, Ga., and Live Oak, Fla. But his interests go way beyond preaching.
For years, Weaver was a leading member of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a hate group that opposes interracial marriage and has described black people as a “retrograde species of humanity.” He also long served as chaplain to the Southern heritage group Sons of Confederate Veterans at a time when its leadership was largely controlled by racist extremists.
Weaver was much sought after by extremist groups. In March 2007, for instance, he spoke for five nights at South Pointe Baptist Church in Pelzer, S.C., at a conference sponsored by Christian Exodus. That group was working to get Christians in South Carolina to secede and was led by Cory Burnell, himself a former member of the League of the South (LOS), a neo-secessionist hate group.
“John Weaver is the quintessential Southern preacher, bringing the whole counsel of God with practical application to every area of life,” Burnell said at the time. “He teaches the biblical doctrine of interposition as well as any man, and brings powerful illustrations from American history, with touching stories from the First and Second Wars for American independence.”
Regardless of whether or not “interposition” is “biblical,” it is a doctrine that was used by racist Southern state governments to defend slavery and, later, to try to “nullify” laws and court rulings against segregation. It is also one that the courts have repeatedly ruled unconstitutional.
In April 2011, Weaver made an appearance on “The Political Cesspool,” a racist radio program run by James Edwards out of Memphis, Tenn., that has featured a veritable “Who’s Who” of the radical right. Others on the show have included former Klan leaders, Holocaust deniers, neo-Nazis and fellow travelers.
Weaver has also taken up weapons in a big way. He recently became a certified instructor for Front Sight, a firearms training institute. At a Georgia LOS meeting in March 2011, he taught members to draw down on an enemy. He taught gun safety at the LOS national convention last July.
Also last year, Weaver spoke at the Church of Kaweah, a militant hate group based in California. Today, the church sells tapes of Weaver’s sermons and also features him in a church video entitled, “To Teach Them War.”