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Tennessee Minister Funneled Christian School Donations Through Neo-Confederate Hate Group

David O. Jones, a minister and Christian home schooling advocate, faced outrage from donors last week after a Nashville investigative news team revealed that he was moving their money through a foundation the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as a hate group.

The funds were donated to benefit Jones’ Heritage Covenant Schools, an organization that provides resources for families who homeschool their children using a conservative Christian curriculum. Jones said all the money donated made its way to the intended beneficiary, but donors were upset to find they’d unwittingly been associated with the Mary Noel Kershaw Foundation, a neo-Confederate hate group.

The foundation is affiliated with the League of the South (LOS), one of the groups attending the violent Charlottesville, Virginia “Unite the Right” rally. It is named for the wife of notorious segregationist Jack Kershaw, a man who co-founded LOS, and served as a lawyer for James Earl Ray, the man who assassinated the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Before the exposé last week, Jones served as the president of the foundation, and though he stepped down amid the controversy, he still has deep ties to neo-Confederate hate groups.

During an interview with the Nashville investigative team’s reporter, Jones claimed to have ended his relationship with LOS two years ago.

“I don’t want to taint my school or my ministry by an association that I never really thought through,” he said.

But by and large the association seems to remain intact. First, there’s the Mary Noel Kershaw Foundation itself, which doesn’t have its own homepage — instead, information about the charity can be found on the website for LOS. Michael Hill, leader of LOS, was listed as the foundation’s secretary, the Nashville investigative team noted.

Jones still claimed to be a Chairman for the Tennessee LOS on his Facebook page more than a week after speaking with the Nashville reporter, and he claims on the Heritage Covenant Schools’ website that he’s active with the Southern National Congress (SNC) as a chairman. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists SNC as a hate group because its membership is nearly identical to that of the LOS.

His Facebook friends list is a who’s who of neo-Confederate extremists who showed up in Charlottesville. It includes Hill (who was a scheduled speaker at the rally) and Michael Tubbs, an LOS member and convicted felon who was imprisoned for stockpiling explosives and weapons in the ‘90s. During that investigation, authorities discovered a note written by Tubbs suggesting he intended use the arsenal to attack media outlets and businesses owned by Jews and African Americans.

If Jones wants to protect his ministry’s reputation, he’d do well to surround himself with people who take the Christian mandate of peace, compassion and non-violence a little more seriously.

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