‘after tying the nuptial knot underneath a noose, they burn a celebratory cross’
Ku Klux Klan members Dan and Andrea Elmquist got married in a barn ceremony in Tennessee last year
A reporter and photographer on assignment for a Norwegian magazine gained access to the racist group
After the wedding ceremony the robed Klansmen went to a nearby field where they burned a cross
When Ku Klux Klan members Dan and Andrea Elmquist got married last summer, the couple tied the know underneath a noose in a Tennessee barn, and celebrated afterwards by burning a cross in a nearby field.
Reporter Vegart Tenold Aase and photographer Peter van Agtmael witnessed the KKK wedding while on assignment for the Norwegian magazine A-Magasinet.
‘All I want is to marry you, buy a trailer to live in, have a couple of children, a good family and a forest to hunt in,’ Andrea told her husband-to-be during the wedding ceremony.
The wedding was attended by friends and family who also belong to the Ku Klux Klan
THE KU KLUX KLAN’S HISTORY OF HATRED STRETCHES BACK TO POST-CIVIL WAR AMERICAN SOUTH
The Ku Klux Klan was formed as a social club by a group of Confederate Army veterans in Pulaski, Tennessee in the winter of 1865-66. The group adopted the name Ku Klux Klan from the Greek word ‘kyklos,’ meaning circle, and the English word clan.
Dressed in robes and sheets, intended to prevent identification by the occupying federal troops, the Klan quickly became a terrorist organization in service of the Democratic Party and white supremacy.
Between 1869 and 1871 its goal was to destroy Congressional Reconstruction by murdering blacks – and some whites – who were either active in Republican politics or educating black children. The Klan burned churches and schools and drove thousands of people out of their homes.
William J. Simmons, a former Methodist preacher, organized a new Klan in Stone Mountain, Georgia in 1915 as a patriotic, Protestant fraternal society. This new Klan directed its activity against not just blacks, but immigrants, Jews, and Roman Catholics. The Ku Klux Klan grew rapidly from there and had more than two million members throughout the country by the mid-1920s.
Eventually the organization was weakened by disagreements among the leadership and because of public criticism of Klan violence. By 1944 the Ku Klux Klan had lost most of its influence and membership.
It was revived during the Civil Rights era and continues today as a small organization that continues to stage demonstrations in favor of white supremacy and fundamentalist Christian theology.
After the wedding the couple munched on a dark chocolate cake with white, blue and red frosting
KKK member Johnny Miller wraps a cross in old clothes and burlap sacks. The cross was later doused in paraffin and set alight in a field
‘And when the Lord takes me, when I’m old, I want to sleep beside you, and Jesus will give me a good job in heaven, and I’ll be of help,’ the 25-year-old bride continued.
Dan, 28, had been married before, but his ex-wife could not accept his Klan membership. Andrea, on the other hand, hails from a family that has been tied to the KKK for generations.
After the barn wedding, the couple walked to a field where a cross had been erected. The cross was made from a newly cut birch tree and wrapped in old clothes and burlap sacks.
In the field, Dan and Andrea held hands while the paraffin-drenched cross burned.
Andrea Elmquist and another KKK members embrace in front of a burning cross in a field in rural Tennessee
During the sinister ceremony KKK members gather around a burning cross
For the KKK, the cross symbolizes Jesus Christ lighting their path (though burning the cross is taboo in most sects of Christianity). Through the history of the KKK it has also often been burned on the property of African Americans in order to intimidate them