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The Racist Legacy of "The Sword of the Lord": From John R. Rice to Shelton Smith

Introduction to the Sword of the Lord

end systemic racism

The Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) movement has long been a breeding ground for oppressive ideologies, including racism. One of the most influential figures in this movement was John R. Rice, the founder of "The Sword of the Lord," a publication that has been a cornerstone of the IFB movement. His successor, Shelton Smith, has continued to perpetuate these harmful ideologies, albeit in a more covert manner. This article aims to shed light on the racist legacy of John R. Rice and how Shelton Smith has continued to perpetuate this harmful ideology. The IFB movement's influence extends beyond the confines of the church, affecting social and political discourse. Understanding the racist underpinnings of its key figures is crucial for anyone committed to fighting against social injustice.

John R. Rice: The Architect of Racial Division

The Man Behind the Ideology

John R. Rice was not just a religious fundamentalist; he was a purveyor of racism. Born in 1895, Rice was a product of his time, but that does not excuse the racist ideologies he propagated. His booklet "Negro and White" is a glaring testament to his racist ideologies. In this publication, Rice explicitly advocated for racial segregation, stating that it is better for both Black and white people to "run with their own kind and intermarry with their own kind" (Peron, 2019).

The Power of the Pen: Expanding Racist Views Through Publications

Rice didn't just hold these views privately; he used his platform to disseminate them widely. Through the publication of books, articles, and the influential "The Sword of the Lord," Rice's racist ideologies found a broad audience. His writings served as a manual for those who sought to justify their own prejudices under the guise of religious righteousness. The publication reached thousands of homes, spreading Rice's views like wildfire and giving them a veneer of respectability under the banner of religious freedom.

The Impact on Society

The impact of Rice's writings was far-reaching. He provided a pseudo-intellectual cover for deeply ingrained prejudices, allowing them to fester and grow within the IFB community. His views on race were not just personal opinions; they were doctrines that were absorbed and acted upon by his followers, causing real harm to marginalized communities. The IFB movement, under Rice's influence, became a haven for those who sought to practice discrimination under the guise of religious beliefs.

Shelton Smith: The Guardian of a Racist Legacy

The Silent Perpetuator

Shelton Smith, the current editor of "The Sword of the Lord," has been less overt in his propagation of racist ideologies. However, his silence on the issue and his continuation of Rice's legacy speak volumes. Smith has never publicly disavowed Rice's racist writings, and many of these writings have conveniently been taken out of print, a tactic that can be seen as an attempt to whitewash the racist history of the publication.

The Art of Omission: Covert Perpetuation of Ideology

While Smith may not be as explicitly racist as his predecessor, his actions—or lack thereof—indicate a tacit approval of Rice's ideologies. By not taking a stand against the racist legacy of Rice, Smith continues to perpetuate the same harmful ideologies that have victimized countless individuals. This form of covert racism is perhaps even more dangerous, as it operates under the radar, making it difficult to challenge and eradicate. Smith's silence is a powerful tool in maintaining the status quo, allowing the IFB movement to continue its oppressive practices without public scrutiny.

The Urgency of Addressing the Issue

For survivors and advocates fighting against the IFB's oppressive practices, understanding the racist ideologies of its key figures is crucial. The fear of ostracization and the pain of spiritual and racial abuse are real concerns that many face when challenging these teachings. It's high time that we expose and challenge the racist ideologies propagated by influential figures in the IFB movement. The fight against the IFB's oppressive practices is not just a fight for religious freedom; it's a fight for racial equality and social justice. The racist legacy left by John R. Rice and perpetuated by Shelton Smith serves as a stark reminder of the work that still needs to be done. It's time to hold these figures accountable for the harm they have caused and continue to cause.


The information provided here is for educational and informational purposes and should not be considered as legal or professional advice.


  • Peron, James. "The Open Racism of Christian Fundamentalism." Medium, 17 Jan. 2019, Medium.

  • Civil Rights Heritage. "1956 “NEGRO AND WHITE” (racist Christian desegregation brochure)." Civil Rights Heritage, 13 Apr. 2018, Civil Rights Heritage.

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