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US Government

South Carolina Judge Rules Black Church is Rightful Owner of Laurens Redneck Shop & KKK Museum

A circuit judge in South Carolina has ruled that a black church is the rightful owner of a building housing a store selling racist items and a Ku Klux Klan museum.

According to the Associated Press, the judge ruled last month that the New Beginnings Baptist Church rightfully owns the building in Laurens in which The Redneck Shop is currently operating. The racist-themed store sells KKK robes and t-shirts with racist slurs printed on them. It also houses a Ku Klux Klan museum.

The Redneck Shop has been operating in the building, which used to house a racially segregated movie theater, in the town of Laurens, named after 18th century slave trader Henry Laurens, since 1996. In 1997, a KKK member fighting with others Klansmen transferred ownership of the building to the Rev. David Kennedy and New Beginnings after developing a “spiritual relationship” with the black church.

But a clause in the property’s deed stipulates that John Howard, owner of The Redneck Store, can operate his business in the disputed building until he dies.

Rev. Kennedy sued; a judge ruled in his favor on December 9. Howard was also ordered to pay the church’s legal bills, which exceed $3,300.

“It has been a long time coming,” said Kennedy of the ruling.

It is unclear what will now become of the building, but you can rest assured that its future won’t include The Redneck Shop. Rev. Kennedy has said he wants to close it and move his church into the building, but he fears that some members would be uncomfortable worshipping in a building that was once a segregated movie theater and a racist shop. Still, Kennedy told the Associated Press: “I don’t count anything out. I think that the church would do good in that building.”

It is, after all, named New Beginnings.

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