Members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) participate in a cross lighting ceremony at a Klansman's home in Warrenville, South Carolina
Members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) participate in a cross lighting ceremony at a Klansman's home in Warrenville, South CarolinaReuters

White supremacist organisation, the Ku Klux Klan is rebranding as the "new Klan" by trying to increase membership to Jews, black people, gays and those of Hispanic origin.

However, all those wanting to join the ultra-right wing society will have to wear the white robes, masks and conical hats. The Klan is estimated to have between 5,000 and 8,000 members according to figures released in 2012.

The Ku Klux Klan is notorious for racist violence, including lynchings of black people. It is classified as a hate group by the anti-semitism organistion Anti-Defamation League and the civil rights law firm Southern Poverty Law Center.

The requirements for joining the new KKK group, called the Rocky Mountain Knights, are to be aged 18 and live in the Pacific Northwest.

Some black people have already expressed an interest in joining, after John Abarr organised a summit with civil rights groups.

Abarr, who has claimed that he is a former white supremacist, told the Great Falls Tribune, "The KKK is for a strong America. White supremacy is the old Klan. This is the new Klan."

Abarr has organised a peace summit with religious groups and the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) next summer.

The KKK organiser from Great Falls, Montana told the Associated Press that he filled out a membership card to NAACP, not only paying the $30 enrollment fee but also adding a $20 donation.

Jimmy Simmons, a president of the Montana NAACP chapter, said that while he questioned the use of the letters KKK, if the peace summit took place, he would "take a strong look" at joining the Rocky Mountain Knights.

"If John Abarr was actually reformed, he could drop the label of the KKK," said Rachel Carroll-Rivas from the Montana Human Rights Network. "They know that their beliefs aren't popular, so they try to appear moderate. I think it's just a farce. Our mission for the last 24 years has been to shine a light on hatred."

However, the more traditional elements of the organisation were unhappy about the direction Abarr is heading in.

Bradley Jenkins, Imperial Wizard of the KKK, said: "That man's going against everything the bylaws of the constitution of the KKK say. He's trying to hide behind the KKK to further his political career."

In 2011 Abarr, describing himself as a former KKK organiser, ran as a Republican for Montana's seat in the US House of Representatives, reportedly believing there would be a backlash against President Obama's re-election.

According to an Associated Press report at the time, Abarr's manifesto included "promises to legalize marijuana, increase mental health programs, keep abortion legal, abolish the death penalty… and 'save the White Race.'"

At the time mainstream Republicans denounced Abarr as a racist. "There's no room for racism in our party," said Rich Hill, a former Republican congressman who lost the 2012 election for Montana's governor. "That is not what we are about, and we have never been about that."