” As for the black man who has children with a white woman: “He don’t want them to look like him, so he’ll marry with another.” Lest this sound racist, Reagan adds helpfully, “Some of the finest people I ever met in my life was some of them colored people.” But this sermon isn’t from the bad old times; it was recorded just last year in Reagan’s 600-member Johnson City, Tenn., church. They may not all embrace the racial separation extolled by Reagan, but the Branham theology invites racism, says James Walker, president of The Watchman Fellowship, an Arlington, Texas, evangelical ministry that researches cults and new religious movements. He preached that original sin stemmed not from Eve biting the fruit and gaining knowledge but, instead, from her sexual intercourse with the serpent, which resulted in the birth of Cain.

What’s more, the pastor is not unique in translating the theology of William Branham, a breakaway Pentecostal religious leader, into a “no-exceptions” Biblical ban on interracial marriage. This led, through the bloodline of Cain, Noah and Ham, to a race of human beings who were descended from the evil serpent. Actually, Branham never quite said, notes Walker, author of The Concise Guide to Today’s Religions and Spirituality (Harvest House).

Miss Harville, who is studying for a master's degree in Indiana, said she was “deeply hurt” as she has attended the church since childhood and knows those who voted for the ban personally.

“But it’s not that far a stretch to begin to interpret it in a racist way.

Any church that teaches this ‘serpentism’ is going to have a tendency to be racist, because it separates people by DNA and bloodline.

An eastern Kentucky church under a firestorm of criticism since members voted to bar mixed-race couples from joining the congregation overturned that decision Sunday, saying it welcomes all believers.

Stacy Stepp, pastor of the Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church in Pike County, told The Associated Press that the vote by nine people last week was declared null and void after it was determined that new bylaws can't run contrary to local, state or national laws.

It’s a way of marginalizing people,” says Walker, who adds that he’s spoken with U. pastors in Branham’s camp who don’t appear to be racist.

It’s hard to know exactly how many Branham-allied U. churches there are, since there is no central denomination — Branham preached against it — or uniting authority.

Interracial marriage was only been legal in all US states since 1967.

Opposition to interracial marriages has fallen with every generation, with up to 97 per cent of younger Americans now having no issue with it, polls have indicated, although pockets of resistance still exists in some states.

From far, far right field, Reagan draws the C-card.