By Rev. Charles Paisley
This tract is the product of a broken heart. A lifetime spent in the Message of William Branham, deeply loving its teachings, and trusting deeply the leaders who preached it. The writer of this article has been a message minister living his life in the Jeffersonville Indiana area. The sorrow with which these things are wrote cannot be overstated.
My name is Charles Paisley, I am formerly the Assistant Pastor of Faith Assembly Church in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Faith Assembly is one of the oldest Message churches in the world and was visited by William Branham multiple times during his life. The church was located in New Albany and later Clarksville, Indiana during William Branham’s lifetime, before it relocated to its present location on the western edge of Jeffersonville. William Branham often referred to Faith Assembly as a sister church to the nearby Branham Tabernacle. Members of Faith Assembly were acquainted with William Branham and his ministry since the 1930s, and some members of William Branham’s family attended the church periodically through the 1970s. The founding pastor of Faith Assembly Church, Raymond “Junior” Jackson is a name well known among Message believers.
The purpose of this short tract is not to try and paint Message believers as racists, or even to accuse William Branham himself of racism. The author does not believe the average Message Believer fits the traditional definition of a racist. The purpose of this tract is to make a case and present evidence to the reader to help them see the origin of the Serpent Seed doctrine preached by William Branham.
My discovery of the contents of this tract are one of the contributing factors leading to my exit from The Message of William Branham.
Modern Origins of Serpent Seed
Modern Serpent Seed teaching developed within the British Israel movement in the 1890s. All modern strains of Serpent Seed teaching can be traced to theories that were popularized by the British Israel movement, including William Branham’s version.
The movement began in the late 1700s, and they believed that Anglo-Saxons were the descended from the lost tribes of Israel. At first the movement had very few adherents. But by the 1890s, the group had grown in popularity. Their beliefs crossed denominational boundaries and found varying degrees of acceptance by members of primarily Anglican, Methodist, Pentecostal, Adventist, and Baptist groups in the English speaking nations.
Beginning in the 1890s, the movement began to change their beliefs and took on a markedly racial outlook and the teachings began to shift. This was when serpent seed became part of their beliefs.
Rev. Russel Kelso Carter wrote a book entitled The Tree of Knowledge where he theorized that the Anglo-Saxon race had descended not from the ten tribes of Israel, but instead directly from Adam, and that other races had descended from Cain, who was conceived when Eve had sexual relations with the Serpent in the garden of Eden. Carter also theorized that there were other races of pre-human people, without souls, created by God to serve the race of Adam. Carter was not the first person to make such a claim, but he was the first person within the British Israel movement to do so. Carter’s idea caught like wildfire among adherents of British Israelism and quickly spread.
The teaching found special popularity among the people who formed the Ku Klux Klan during the 1910s, and from there the idea further developed into the teachings today known as Christian Identity Theology. By the 1930s, an early form of Christian Identity Theology began to spread broadly among the white supremacist community in the United States, thanks in large part to Rev. Wesley Swift, a prominent figure in the Ku Klux Klan. As the serpent seed teaching moved beyond the British Israel movement, it also began to target Jews.
Wesley Swift was at the time a minister at Angelus Temple in California, a church visited many time by William Branham. Wesley Swift was promoting his Christian Identity Serpent Seed teachings during the same time period that William Branham was visiting Angelus Temple.
The Christian Identity teaching claimed that non-whites, including Jews and Africans, were human-animal hybrids that were descended from sub-human creatures. The teaching was used to justify the oppression or elimination of non-whites. The teaching of serpent seed remains to this day a key teaching of Christian Identity Theology to justify the racism of white supremacist organizations.
Multiple researchers of Christian Identity Theology and white supremacist groups who adhere to it have connected William Branham’s serpent seed teaching to the Christian Identity ideology. In fact, William Branham is known as “the most significant proponent” of the racial teaching outside of the Christian Identity movement. Researchers have uncovered many well documented connections between William Branham and the white supremacy movement, and plenty of opportunities for William Branham to have learned serpent seed from them.
For more information see:
Schamber, Jon F. Mystical Anti-Semitism and the Christian Identity Movement (PDF). Stockton, CA: University of the Pacific.
Barkin, Michael, Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement. University of North Carolina
William Branham and the Ku Klux Klan
By 1929, (and possibly as early as 1926) William Branham joined a church pastored by Roy E. Davis. Davis was a founding member of the Ku Klux Klan and coauthor of the 1921 KKK constitution. As late as 1926, Davis had been the second highest ranking member of the Ku Klux Klan in the entire nation. In the 1940s and 1950s, Davis went on to play a key role in reviving the KKK and eventually rose to the rank of National Imperial Wizard (leader) of the Ku Klux Klan. Davis baptized and ordained William Branham as a minister, and made him elder and assistant pastor of his church in Jeffersonville in 1929.
There is substantial evidence that William Branham was fully aware of Roy Davis’s position in the KKK and was actively touring with Davis and participating in his Klan recruitment efforts during the 1920s and 1930s. In one meeting, Davis was arrested off the platform in front of Bro. Branham and taken to jail for “living immorally” with a minor.
William Branham was the worship leader in Davis’s church at the time, and was most likely on the platform with Davis when he was arrested.
Despite his knowledge of who Davis was, and the crimes he committed, William Branham spoke highly of Roy Davis. Here are a few examples of William Branham explaining their connection.
I’m a Baptist preacher, out of a Missionary Baptist church, ordained by Dr. Roy E. Davis out of Dallas, Texas, and was made a local elder for the church at Jeffersonville.55-0227E – The Healing Of Jairus’ Daughter
Rev. William Marrion Branham
Dr. Roy E. Davis ordained me as one of the local pastors, give me rights then, by the state, to marry, bury, baptize, so forth. And the Missionary Baptist Church burned down, which I was assistant pastor, at the time.64-0427 – A Trial
Rev. William Marrion Branham
We also have indisputable evidence that Roy Davis was the national leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Compare the picture for yourself. (Click any article to enlarge it.)
Where Did William Branham Learn Serpent Seed?
George DeArk was another elder and minister at Roy Davis’s Jeffersonville church and was spoken of often by William Branham. George DeArk later served as the first assistant pastor of the Branham Tabernacle.
George DeArk taught William Branham that non-whites were descended from animals shortly after he joined Roy Davis’s church. William Branham claimed to reject the teaching at the time. However, this does confirm to us that William Branham was hearing these concepts directly from people connected to the Ku Klux Klan.
Here is one quote where William Branham talks about this.
Now, it’s been said…And I hope that my colored friends that’s in here will excuse this remark, because it’s absolutely not right. The first time I ever met anyone in my life, after I had been converted…I was…met Brother George DeArk and them down there. And I was walked, and the Lord led me to a little place. And they was discussing where the colored man came from. And they were trying to say that the colored man…That Cain married an animal like an ape, and through there come forth the colored race. Now, that’s wrong! Absolutely, that’s wrong! And don’t never stand for that. Cause there was no colored or white, or any other different, it’s just one race of people unto the flood. Then after the flood and the tower of Babel, when they began to scatter out, that’s when they taken their colors and so forth. They’re all come from the same tree. That’s exactly right. Adam and Eve was the father and mother, earthly, of every living creature of human beings that’s ever been on the earth. That’s right. Black, white, pale, brown, yellow, whatever color you might be…57-1006 – Questions And Answers On Hebrews #3
Rev. William Marrion Branham
Of course, no Message follower believes what William Branham said in this quote. Adam and Eve were NOT the mother and father of every living human being according to the beliefs of the Message. We all know William Branham either changed his mind, or was hiding his true beliefs when he made this statement.
Again, the goal of this article is not to say William Branham was a racist. It is to demonstrate where he learned Serpent Seed. What this quote does do, is prove to us that William Branham was in the company of racists who were sharing Christian Identity concepts and ideas with him.
William Branham and Wesley Swift
William Branham’s version of Serpent Seed differs from the version he reported learning at Roy Davis’s church. William Branham did not believe Cain married an ape, instead he believed that Eve had relations with an ape-like serpent. William Branham rejected George DeArk’s explanation of Christian Identity theology because he favored Wesley Swift’s version.
The leading figure in the Christian Identity movement during William Branham’s lifetime was Wesley Swift. Swift founded the Church of Jesus Christ in 1948 which was a religious front for multiple white supremacist organizations in the United States. Swift was the single greatest proponent of Serpent Seed before William Branham.
Swift was preaching Serpent Seed at least as early as the 1930s. Here is a summary of Swift’s version of the serpent seed teachings.
Eve fell prey to Lucifer’s seduction, had “sexual intercourse” with “the serpent,” and gave birth to Cain, “the progeny of the wicked One.
This interbreeding with the peoples of earth … produced . . . black, yellow, red, [and] brown [races]Jon F. Schamber, Mystical Anti-Semitism and the Christian Identity Movement, pp 13-14
Swift believed the origin of every non-white race was from interbreeding with Cain’s descendants.
Swift was a preacher for many years at the Angelus Temple in California.
Wesley Swift’s Church of Jesus Christ Christian was initially a racist sect which became Christian Identity. The central belief in Identity doctrine is the existence of two races on earth: a godly white race descended from Adam and a satanic race fathered by the serpent. Swift [was] a Klan leader and preacher at Amie Semple McPherson’s Foursquare Church in Los Angles…Christian Patriots At War with the State by Paul de Armond
Amie Semple McPhereson’s church was named the Angelus Temple. William Branham was a regular visitor to the Angelus Temple in Los Angeles and recorded many sermons there, including one of the most famous recordings of his life story. We know William Branham and Wesley Swift met, were acquainted with each other, heard each other preach, and had direct access to each other’s tracts. We also have evidence that William Branham utilized some of Wesley Swift’s tracts as reference material for his own sermons because we can find where William Branham was making direct quotes from Swift’s tracts in his sermons.
Additionally, multiple members of William Branham’s campaign team were also members of Wesley Swift’s “Anglo-Saxon Christians” group during the 1930s and 1940s.
Because of William Branham’s documented connections to men like Wesley Swift, George De’Ark, and Roy Davis, we can conclude with total certainty, William Branham learned a version of serpent seed from white supremacists members of the KKK.
William Branham and the Serpent Seed Doctrine
In 1957 William Branham said that all people were descended from Adam and Eve, and he rejected the idea that some races were descended from animals. One year later, William Branham changed his mind. He began to preach his doctrine of Serpent Seed.
Like Wesley Swift, William Branham said Eve was impregnated by Satan, through the serpent.
What did he do? He begin making love to Eve, and he lived with her, as a husband. And she saw it was pleasant, so she went and told her husband, but she was already pregnant, by Satan. And she brought forth her first son, whose name was Cain, the son of Satan. “Now,” you say, “that’s wrong.” All right, we’ll just find out whether it’s wrong or not.58-0928E – The Serpent’s Seed
Rev. William Marrion Branham
Some Message preachers will say that William Branham never said Satan had relations with Eve. But they are lying to you. You can read his words for yourself. What else are they lying about to you?
In his sermon, William Branham went on to describe Africans and Jews as “the seed of Satan” and as being descended from the serpent.
Now, Noah and his sons, which come out, Ham, Shem, and Japheth, come out in the righteous line. How did the [serpent’s] seed ever get over? The [serpent’s] seed come over in the ark, just like it did in the beginning, through the woman, their wives. They carried the seed of Satan, through the ark, just as Eve packed the seed of Satan, to give birth to Cain, through the woman. … Notice this now. And out of there, then, come Ham, Ham with his wife, and them. He had a curse put on him.— William Branham, The Serpent’s Seed, September 28, 1958
Ham was the biblical father of the African peoples. Branham explicitly referred to Ham’s family as the primary descendants of the serpent – who he called the “seed of Satan”. Ham’s son, Canaan, became father of Canaanite people. When the children of Israel entered the land of Canaan, the northern tribes intermarried with the Canaanite people. As a result, Branham went on to connect the serpent seed to at least some Jewish people.
Come on down through Ahab, come on down from Ahab into Judas Iscariot…— William Branham, The Serpent’s Seed, September 28, 1958
William Branham directly and explicitly pointed to Africans and some Jews as subhuman descendants of an apelike creature and the seed of Satan. These are identical concept as Christian Identity Theology. William Branham just left out the words “black” and “jew”. William Branham’s essential concept has only minor differences with Wesley Swift’s Christian Identity Theology.
Christian Identity Theology teaches that whites are the true descendants of Adam, and that non-whites are imposters who are children of the devil through the serpents relationship with Eve. Wesley Swift’s traces the serpent’s line of descent using the exact same method employed by William Branham. Both trace the serpent descendants from Cain to Ham, and from there to all all Africans. Then from Ham’s son Canaan to the Jewish people who intermarried with the Canaanites. It is no coincidence that William Branham’s teaching in this area is identical to Christian Identity theology, because that is where he learned Serpent Seed.
Christian Identity theology also teaches that the Pope and the Catholic Church are serpent seed dominated groups.
[Christian identity] linked the ‘Satan line’ with the activities of the Catholic Church and the pope, the ‘Prime Minister of the Devil’.Jon F. Schamber, Mystical Anti-Semitism and the Christian Identity Movement, p 13
William Branham made the same connection between the serpent’s seed and the Catholic Church.
From Ham come Nimrod, who built Babylon. Out of Babylon come the Catholic church…— William Branham, The Serpent’s Seed, September 28, 1958
Is it a coincidence that William Branham traced the serpent seed to the exact same peoples that Wesley Swift did in his sermons from the 1930s and 1940s?
Christian Identity taught that racial mixing will lead to the destructions of the United States. William Branham taught the same thing.
Hybreeding. Hybreeding, oh, how terrible! Hybreeding. They hybreed the people. New York, the big molding pot…I got hundreds of precious, colored friends that’s born-again Christians. But on this line of segregations and things they’re talking about, hybreeding the people! What? Tell me what fine cultured, fine Christian, colored woman would want her baby to be a mulatto, by a white man? No, sir. It’s not right. What white woman would want her baby to be a mulatto, by a colored man? God made us what we are. Let’s stay what God made us. I believe it’s right. When that great fuss come up, down there at Shreveport, here not long ago, that old colored preacher stood out there. He’s got a place in my heart. Said, “I never was ashamed because I’m a colored man.” Said, “God made me what I am, and I’m proud of it. But,” said, “today, I’m ashamed the way you people are acting. Way my own people is acting, it makes me ashamed.” Oh, my! What are we doing, friends? Men think they know all about it. The people would be better off, if you just let them the way they are, the way God made them. Let the brown race marry the brown race. The white race marry the white race. The dark race, the yellow race, and whatever more, stay the way God made them. If a violet, God made it, it was white, let it remain white. It’s blue, black, brown, whatever the flower is, let it alone. If corn was raised a certain way, yellow corn, don’t mix with white corn. If you do, you mix it up, then it can’t breed itself back again. If a mule was…or—or jack was a jack, and a jenny, to begin with, let them stay that way. Don’t mix them with horses. You make a renegade. Hybreeding, oh, it’s such a curse. Go back to where God started. Let’s go back to the beginning. Go back to where God brought us, what we’re supposed to be. I say this with respects. I say this with honor. I’m going to Africa, but, you know what, to my precious colored brother and sisters. One of the greatest mistakes this nation made, it made it on November the 11th, this year. That was its great, fatal mistake. One of the greatest mistakes that the colored race ever made, was down in Louisiana and over in there, when they voted for Kennedy, the other night, put him in. They actually spit on that dress of Abraham Lincoln, where the blood of the Republican party that freed them, and voted a Catholic. Which, Booth shot Lincoln. And he died for the race of people, to free them and make them not slaves. Then, turn around and vote for a Democrat, and a Catholic, besides. They brought one of the greatest disgraces they ever wrought, because (why?) the white man, with his scholarship, had give them a lot of ballyhoo. That’s exactly right. I’m so glad there’s many of them knows where they—where they stand. Be the same as me spitting on Christ, that healed me and saved me from being a sinner, and turn against Him, for something else, turn my back upon Him and walk away. Oh, this interbreeding! Oh! How—how can the world go on much longer? No wonder, the vision of the Lord says here, that, “I seen it finally come to a spot where she’s just one big smoldering heap. She was blowed up.” We’re on the road out, friends. There’s no way to, no way, there’s no way around it. We got to come to it, face it. Hybreeding! Say, “I’m not responsible, because Eve did that.” Eve did do it.Branham, 60-1113 – Condemnation By Representation
It is abundantly clear that William Branham’s opposition to interracial marriage stemmed from his beliefs on serpent seed. How does that make any sense, unless serpent seed is racial?
Is this a coincidence? Or should we use our common sense and conclude William Branham was influenced by the white supremacists around him?
If this were all I had to go on, I would still be left with a question in my mind about the origin of the serpent seed. But there is more to the story.
Public and Private Teaching of the Message
Privately, some message preachers are aware of the racial implication of the serpent seed doctrine. Just as William Branham learned the racial components of serpent seed doctrine from an elder at Roy Davis’s Jeffersonville Church, the racial components have continued to be privately passed down by message preachers in the Jeffersonville area. At Faith Assembly, multiple ministers who had direct access to William Branham claimed to have received private instruction from him on the racial components of the teaching.
Shortly after becoming assistant pastor of Faith Assembly, I received private personal instructions on the racial components of serpent seed by our pastor who informed me that Cain was the first black man, and that interracial marriage was the reason God sent the flood to destroy the earth. I was informed that interracial marriage could only produce serpent seed. I was told that the private teaching had been passed down directly from William Branham.
Let me be clear: I was informed directly by preachers who knew William Branham that the serpent seed doctrine was racial, and that they learned that directly from him. And they still believed it to be racial to the present day.
As a result of their beliefs, leaders of our church took steps multiple times to stop and prevent any type of interracial relationship. Interracial people, including interracial children, were refused entry at our church or asked to leave at different times. Similar things have been reported to me concerning the nearby Branham Tabernacle and other message churches in United States.
While receiving my private instruction on the racial nature of serpent seed, I was told that it could not be taught publicly because not all could receive it. The racial nature of serpent seed had always been present in our church’s public teaching, but it was never explicitly stated. It was only hinted at in some of the following ways:
- It was taught the serpent had been intended to be man’s servant, to work the fields and do the manual labor.
- The events leading up the Noah’s flood were contrasted to the increasing rate of interracial marriage in modern society.
- When Jesus said “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the day when the son of man is revealed”, was used repeatedly to hint that racial mixing was a sign of the end, and a repeat of the sin that caused God to send the flood.
- Special attention was focused on the curse of perpetual servitude and slavery on Ham’s son.
- Ham’s curse was highlighted at the same time the descendants of the serpent were talked about.
People may call me a liar. But I have their private teachings on tape. Raymond Jackson, who preached William Branham’s funeral, can be listened to in this audio clip with some key excerpts demonstrating the racial aspects of serpent seed.
Despite the numerous hints and clues, many people in message churches are oblivious to the racial elements of serpent seed and are completely unaware its origin in the white supremacy movement. Most Message preachers, including those who know the racial aspects, teach serpent seed just like William Branham: they omit the words “black” and “jew” when they teach it publicly. Then privately they fill in the blank with people who are receptive.
I am not accusing the average Message believer of being a racist. Many have no idea about this secret teaching. And some who do know the truth about serpent seed have openly rejected it.
Raymond Jackson’s sect of the Message is not the only one to teach these things. It was taught privately among the main group in Jeffersonville, among Lee Vayle’s group, and it is even taught today among some groups in Africa and by Africans.
William Branham made many statements affirming racial equality, and as quoted earlier in this article, he even publicly denounced the idea that non-whites were descended from animals. The racial components of serpent seed are just one of many dual statements made by William Branham, and like all the other dual statements he made, people choose the statements that best suit their own agenda. Those predisposed to racism use his statements to justify their wicked views. While those not predisposed to racism are oblivious.
Regardless of how you may interpret the serpent seed teaching, it invariably forces the believer to conclude that some people are sub-human.
And for the critics outside of Jeffersonville who will say I am mistaken: let me kindly inform you that you don’t know what you are talking about. We have heard these things from the horse’s mouth. I have known personally men who were at Roy Davis’s church with William Branham. We know who they were. We know what they were involved in. And our witness is true. But these people are our family and our loved ones. I want to share the truth with you, but it is not my desire to defame anyone.
The evidence available to us is ironclad and conclusive. There is no question, William Branham was exposed to Christian Identity Theology by members of the Ku Klux Klan. In the very best-case scenario, we could conclude that William Branham cleaned it up to make it less racial. But that leaves us with a difficult question to answer: Did God use the Ku Klux Klan to bring a divine revelation to the church?
And for me, the biggest question is: why did William Branham lead us to believe he received this revelation supernaturally? Why did he tell us this was divine revelation he received from God, when he was clearly copying serpent seed from other people?
Why Did I Look Into This?
I am including a link to a PBS documentary which explains the Christian Identity Theology in an interview with one of their own preachers. After Wesley Swift died, the church was taken over by Richard Butler who moved the headquarters to Idaho. The PBS interview is with Butler in Idaho. The explanation of Christian Identity Theology begins at the 7 minute mark. I watched this documentary when it first aired on television in 2017, just a few months before I first heard on television news that William Branham had connections to the KKK. The combinations of these two things troubled me deeply, because I was very aware of the racial component of serpent seed.
If people choose to believe serpent seed, they need to be fully informed of what is and where it came from. Without a doubt, William Branham did not receive it supernaturally from God. He learned it from members of the KKK.
As for me, I choose to reject racism. I choose to reject and condemn the racist teachings in the Message. I also choose to condemn William Branham for importing the the serpent seed teaching from Christian Identity theology and lying to us about where it came from. I also call on the Message preachers who believe certain races are inferior to repent.
Let me assure you, the preachers of the church I left most certainly believe non-white races are inferior. I have heard it from their own lips. It is on tape on their websites to this day. I shared one sample with you here. When they deny this to you, you need to ask yourself why are they lying?
From the moment I first understood the serpent seed had a racial component, I was deeply conflicted. I carefully avoided participating in any of the racial talk or racially targeted church discipline. Towards the end of my time at the church, a deacon who had been tasked with enforcing some of the racial discipline asked me to explain to him why the church was forbidding interracial relationships. I explained the things in this article to him, but in his own words, it caused his eyes to glaze over. This is true. If you have been in the Message, it literally hurts the head to hear the truth about this topic. In his case, he had no idea he was enforcing decisions and judgements based on an ideology that came from the KKK. But the ones making him enforce those judgements and decision, they did know.
This is the typical pattern. The average person in the Message does not know the source of the ideology or the reason these racial rules exist. But they believe them and obey them. The true meaning is kept a secret by the leadership.
See also: the following CBC news article.