Ex-Klansman Threatens to Drive WN Pastor Out of Town
BATAVIA, AR. August 25, 2013. It was a surrealistic evening and conclusion to a four-night revival featuring a self-promoting ex-Ku Klux Klansman, who said he’d come to preach love and brotherhood but ended up urging his Pentecostal crowd of emotional elderly ladies to run the affable Pastor Tom Robb out of the nearby town of Harrison. The advertisements said “love”, but Johnny Lee Clary’s preaching was heavy with hate.
Johnny Lee Clary, with a soup bowl haircut and what looked like a 1970s leisure suit, entitled his talk to about 60 people, including six undercover policemen there to keep an eye on eight friends of the target of the night Harrison resident Pastor Tom Robb, announced his topic: One Man’s Love; One Man’s Hate.
Clary, who is an associate of televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, told his audience at the Batavia Assembly of God that he had grown up as a racist and “hater” in California. His evidence was underwhelming. His father had called Negroes “niggers” and had warned him to lock up his bicycle when Negroes began moving in two blocks away. Later in his talk, he complained that about that time people in his area began to have to lock their doors.
Later, after his father’s suicide, he was sent to other relatives inCalifornia. Lonely, he was befriended by his new family the Ku Klux Klan. He made such an impression that he was sent to Oklahoma.ll the while he was pursuing a career as a professional wrestler. He claimed he’d been the Kleagle or public relations officer, although the rank of Kleagle means legal advisor. Then, he alleged, he was elevated to Grand Dragon. His Klan life seemed to consist of yelling “nigger” at Negroes, leafleting, and doing numerous press interviews.
He’d made a special target of Rev. Wade Watts, a friendly Negro civil rights leader and preacher, who had bested him in a two hour media debate. He made threatening calls to Watts, lit a cross across the street from his house, broke a front window and left garbage on his lawn,initiated a failed attempt to burn his church down and, then, turned up with a carload of Klansmen to intimidate Watts and his family. According to him, when Watts pointed a shotgun at them, the Klansmen left streaks of rubber as they tore off down the street.
His life was “one man’s hate.”| He left the Klan in 1989, apparently, disillusioned by the growing strength of skinheads, disputes about stolen mailing lists, the discovery that his girlfriend was an FBI informant, accusations that he too was a police informant, and a “tip” that the FBI was going to plant drugs in his car and send him to jail for a long time.
His life fell apart. He embraced Jesus. He began to do well as a car salesman and then felt the calling to take his anti-racist show on the road.
He called up Rev.Wade Watts, the old victim of his bullying. Watts had always been friendly and forgiving and a man who refused to “hate”. He gave Clary is first preaching gig at his all Negro Church. It was a media sensation. Watts and Clary then spent seven years travelling round America as a tag-team anti-hate preaching act. When Watts lay dying, Wade visited his “best friend” and kissed him.
Many women in the Batavia church congregation were weeping and swaying entirely beguiled by Clary’s message of love.
However, for all the talk of love and forgiveness, Clary made repeated denunciations of long-time Harrison resident Pastor Tom Robb. Clary claimed that, in McAllister, OK, there were 30 Klansmen in a town of 30,000, but they were united did what they wanted. “I talk to the FBI,” Clary confided, “for all the publicity Robb gets, he doesn’t have more than 100 people at his meetings” , which, if true, would be twice the turnout at Clary’s much advertised appearance. “The whole town, if they wanted, could make him go.” It seems that Clary wants to do the Pastor Robb what he once tried to do to Wade Watts. Old habits seem to died hard.
Clary who has never met Pastor Robb, who heads up the Knights Party, assured the congregation that Pastor Robb’s non-year old son or grandson — if wasn’t quite clear — had been dressed up in a Nazi uniform. This is a complete lie, says Pastor Robb. So, said Clary, “these children should be taken from their parents for ‘child abuse.’ If you teach your children hate, it will kill them.” This was a somewhat illogical prediction as Clary claimed to have been taught “hate” but still seemed very much alive working the congregation. He also asserted that a couple who had named their children Adolf Hitler and Eva and who had had their children taken away were followers of Pastor Robb. This was another invention.
After the meeting, Billy Roper, an associate of Pastor Robb’s who had come to observe the meeting, was accosted by a corporal with the Boone County Criminal Investigation Branch and accused “of standing in an intimidating manner” looking at Clary’s display of cds and “having an unpleasant look on his face.” Having done his intimidation act, the corporal admitted that Roper was not under arrest.