The Ku Klux Klan was formed in Tennessee in 1866 by a group composed mainly of former Confederate soldiers, including General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Their original intention was to oppose interference imposed by the federal government and to scare former slaves into “keeping their place” in southern society.
It is interesting to look at the parallels between the KKK and contemporary terrorist activity. As with groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS, the Klan claimed to have religious justification for their violent acts. According to History.Com, some early Klan leaders were clergymen. Each group maintained secret memberships and conducted clandestine raids that were designed to frighten targeted groups into submission, often resulting in death.
The Klan still exists today, although it has been largely discredited by a more tolerant America. However, the Klan continues to express its views and justify its actions in a religious context. Look at these quotes from the March 24, 2014 edition of the Christian Post by Frank Ancona, the leader of a Virginia Ku Klux Klan group:
We don't hate people because of their race. We are a Christian organization.
We want to keep our race the white race. We want to stay white. It's not a hateful thing to want to maintain white supremacy.
In light of this comment about white supremacy, how much has the KKK really changed from its post Civil War origins? The goal of maintaining a certain racial order is not that different than the goal of maintaining a certain religious order. Either goal will lead to prejudicial attitudes and, eventually, overt acts of oppression and possibly even violence. This has been the ambition of the KKK from its infancy.