Among the surprises that I came across while researching Southern Baptist encounters with Palestine was that the first foreign (i.e., American) missionary that the SBC’s Foreign Mission Board sent to the Holy Land later went on to edit the Ku Klux Klan’s national periodical, The Kourier. That missionary was William Alexander Hamlett, who had pastored churches in Oklahoma and Texas (including First Baptist of Austin) before being appointed as the FMB’s first representative in Palestine in 1921.
Hamlett was a disaster as a missionary, lasting less than two months and almost completely wrecking the mission that had already been established by “native workers” Shukri and Munira Mosa (the maternal grandparents of scholars Edward Said and Jean Said-Makdisi). Within a year and a half after returning, Hamlett once again left the pulpit at First Baptist of Austin, serving briefly as an itinerant speaker for the revived Klan before becoming editor of the Kourier. Want to know more about Hamlett? Check out my recent article in the Baptist History & Heritage Journal here.