First PC of Anaheim’s Stand Against the KKK
A little known piece of local history is how, in 1924, the KKK tried to turn Anaheim into a “perfect Klan town.” Styling themselves as the upholders of Christian morality, they blamed minority groups (particularly immigrants and Catholics) for civic problems and accused those opposed to them of being against Prohibition which was the law of the land at the time.
The threat to the community from the Klan reached its peak when it was revealed that three of the four city council seats (including the Mayor) and nine out of 10 police officers (including the Chief) were Klansmen. During this time Anaheim became popularly known as “Klanaheim.” It was a dark time in our city’s history.
However, it was also a time when the light of Christ shown brightly from most of our city’s churches, First Presbyterian among them. Public opponents of the Klan included members of the congregation and our Pastor, Thomas Walker, who published anti-Klan editorials in the paper. Walter Ross, an elder in the congregation, has a cross burned in his front yard. Years later his son reflects, “I know that it must have scared my father. Our church was one of the many that stood together against the Klan then.”
A successful recall of the 3 clan council members ended the Klan’s aspirations, but the episode left a indelible mark on the congregation. Today our mission statement is “to shine the light of God in faith and service from the heart of Anaheim;” a vision that gives testimony to our experience of Christ in John 1:5, The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
Please send one of your church’s “defining moments” to Kim Skilling (100-250 words)