True Story of Klansman and Black Preacher Brings New Meaning to ‘Love Your Enemies’

A scene from Andrew Heckler’s feature film “Burden.” | 101 Studios

The Ku Klux Klan will forever be one of the greatest blights on the United States. The racial violence and hatred perpetrated by the white-hooded members of the notorious white supremacist group is permanently etched in the history of the nation.

Still, in today’s “woke” society, it’s easy to relegate the Klan to a thing of the past.

But in reality, the KKK isn’t exactly in the distant past. In fact, less than three decades ago, the KKK was active in a poverty-ridden town in South Carolina.

This is the painful reality filmmaker Andrew Heckler brings to light in his powerful new drama “Burden.”

Based on a true story, “Burden” is a deeply unnerving yet remarkably redemptive tale that asks audiences to examine their own prejudices, consider what it means to truly “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44) and extend love, compassion, and forgiveness to the least deserving.

Starring Forest Whitaker, Tom Wilkinson, Usher, Garrett Hedlund, Andrea Riseborough and Austin Hebert, “Burden” is set in the mid-’90s and follows Mike Burden, a hot-headed young KKK member in Laurens, South Carolina. Through a series of flashbacks, Mike’s story becomes clear: Orphaned at a young age and mired in poverty, Mike was taken in and mentored by Tom Griffin, a white supremacist who presides over frequent KKK gatherings.

Griffin all-too-happily indoctrinates his young pupil with hateful and racist rhetoric. In one particularly telling scene, he gives a young Mike and other boys Bowie knives and teaches them how to shank “dark meat.” Barbecues and lighthearted “family” hangouts are rife with racist jokes and on occasion, morph into full-blown KKK rallies, complete with burning crosses and white hoods.

To Mike, the Klan isn’t just normal; it’s family.

Eventually, Griffin gifts Mike his prized possession — an old theater in the small downtown area of Laurens. Under Griffin’s guidance, Mike and his cronies transform the theater into ”The Redneck Shop,” loudly decorated with a Confederate flag. The back half of the shop is occupied by the “KKK Museum,” filled with KKK paraphernalia including white-hooded Klan uniforms and photographs of lynchings.

While working his part-time gig as a repo man, Mike meets and falls in love with Judy Harbeson, a down-on-her-luck lady with a young son, Franklin. But for Judy, who holds significantly more progressive views on interracial relations, Mike’s affiliation with the KKK is a deal-breaker. 

Meanwhile, local preacher Reverend Kennedy, whose uncle was lynched by the KKK, is on a mission to close the Redneck Shop and KKK Museum through prayer and peaceful protest.

In one scene, Kennedy recounts the atrocities carried out against black community members by the KKK — and reminds his congregation, “but in the midst of it all, Jesus Christ said, ‘Love thy enemies.’ But when it’s time to fight, we will fight. Jesus Christ said, ‘Rebuke evil.’ And the redneck shop is evil.”

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Source: Christian Post