An engaged couple saw their wedding dreams crumble when a minister at a Mississippi church told them he couldn’t marry their kind.
Not because the young lovers were gay—they weren’t—but because they were black.
The day before Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson were to tie the knot at the First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Pastor Stan Weatherford broke the news that he’d have to marry them at a predominately African-American church down the road. Apparently there hasn’t been a black wedding at First Baptist since its founding in 1883, and some church members were objecting vociferously to breaking that streak. Weatherford told WAPT-TV in Jackson he wanted to perform the ceremony but he was also concerned with “addressing a need within our congregation.”
When did church become a mob-rule situation? This is a horrible scenario—one that we would hope would underscore the common struggle of oppressed minorities.
The Wilsons, of course, were devastated: “My 9-year-old was going to the church with us,” said Charles Wilson. “How would you say to your 9-year-old daughter, ‘We cannot get married here because, guess what sweetie, we’re black.'”
Media reports say the town is up in arms over the minister’s decision but, since plenty of those residents sit in the pews at First Baptist, we have to question their sincerity.
“What would Jesus have done? He would have married them, without a doubt, because it’s the right thing to do,” said lifelong Crystal Springs resident Theresa Norwood, who is black. “We’re all God’s children.”
Any legal experts want to tell us if First Baptist has opened itself up to nasty lawsuit? Or do the same exemptions that allow religious institutions to discriminate against LGBT people protect them in cases of clear-cut racism?
Religion. Just say NO.
Bigotry is bigotry. This is what people need to to realize. The SECOND that the right wingers started claiming that they weren’t bigots, they just had a different “Opinion” other minority groups should have been put on notice.
Another thing people forget is that bigots are bigots, the same people who hate gays, most likely hate other groups too.
Mississippi is the same state where those folks held a secret prom to keep a lesbian out, it’s no surprise that the same people still hate blacks as well.
I don’t get why everyone is so surprised by this. I’m sure those folks at the (put an self-aggrandizing name here) Church of (put some unknown hick town name here) are just being “good Christians.”
Ugh. It’s too early to deal with shit like this.
“When did church become a mob-rule situation?”—Since Baptist churches are governed on a congregational model. Everything ultimately is put to a vote by the congregation. Including both policy and personnel issues; if the pastor doesn’t get the policy changed first, he’s out of a job and they’ll find someone instead who’s *glad* not to marry black couples and wouldn’t even do it in another facility.
And because religion’s constitutional protections are so wide, there’s no recourse other than to leave. On the other hand, it’s more than a little shocking, if they’ve been going there long enough for their child to get attached, that they didn’t at least strongly suspect this might be a problem.
(And if anyone who reads what I’ve just typed interprets it as in any way suggesting the church is *right* in doing what it does, you’ve misunderstood. And if anyone reads *that* sentence and still says I’m saying the church is right…. well, you’re an idiot.)
T In Ohio
As long as christian churches condone child molestation, intolerance against gays, and racist attitudes, they will only continue to lose members. I totally feel that the church needs a lawsuit against it, though I’m not sure if the churches have the legal right to be racist. If they do, then hopefully more Americans will drop christianity and the churches will be slowly die because of their own IMMORAL choices. It’s stories like this that make me ECSTATIC that I don’t belong to any denomination, and it makes me proud to be unaffiliated with any religious organization. It’s pathetic that these decisions would be made, and outrageous that anybody would support any church after all of the BS they promote. This church in particular. I hope it falls flat on its face, loses its parishioners, and gets shut down. To the parishioners who pushed for the racism, I hope they all die a painful death.
Hmmm, not surprised at all…this is Mississippi we’re talking about. I would be very interested to hear what are/were this black couples views on same-sex marriage before they were turned away!
I can not wait to see how they attempt to justify this with religion. It seems these good ole’ Christians are just showing their true bigoted colors.
when did church become a safe haven for assholes and biggots
The complaints by some people in the congregation are cause for a good sermon about the evils of bigotry and discrimination. They are absolutely not a reason to refuse to minister to a couple who just want to get married.
As part of that sermon, the preacher could read out loud the “RESOLUTION ON RACIAL RECONCILIATION ON THE 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION”
Of course, the Southern Baptist Denomination has also long been known, since its founding, as the Church of the KKK. While that name is not official, it has been very well earned. It is not very surprising that some of SBC Churches continue to earn that name, every week.
I’m not saying I’m happy this happened to them, but a huge part of the black population is so quick to demonize the gays, a little bigotry towards blacks in the media should shed more light on discrimination by religion towards race AND sexual orientation,
Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
I hate to say it, but in America, this is exactly the same as refusing to marry gays. If the church wants to, it can refuse. It disgusting, but gays have had to deal with it since the dawn of time.
Mr. Enemabag Jones
I think more people will care about this, than they do our plight. While liberal guilt over race always trumps concern about the LGBTQ community.
Go to another church. Problem solved.
@Ren: Agreed 100%. People kill me getting so up and arms over things like this. If they don’t want to bless and celebrate your union, then go somewhere else where they will. Too many people are too bent on not letting a sociopolitical issue drop just to make a hedonistic, self-righteous point for the press, while totally ignoring the greater point…which is: do you wanna be where you’re not wanted? Do you really wanna sit amongst hostile people who will either jeer or snub you? There are too many other places to go where you’ll be welcomed and embraced, why make a scene over one that that doesn’t?
How is it that people who call themselves Christian, can’t follow one of Jesus’ most simple rules – Love thy neighbour.
@Ren: @Avenger: That is not the point. I am sure that this couple did not hear racial comments while they were going to the church, most likely thinking that these people were their friends. As a black guy, I can’t tell you the number of times I have been in social situations where I believe that people are good decent people only to find out later that they are racist or very homophobic. Racist people by nature are cowards and afraid of being labeled as such. When they aren’t in those white sheets or posting online (colin), they mostly keep their thoughts to theirselves until they feel safe to act out. Instead of the members talking to the black couple, they went to the white preacher and threatened his job. They put someone else up to do their dirty work, similarly how white guys I work with tell racist and gay jokes when I’m not around out of fear of getting their teeth knocked out. The problem for the racist church members now is that the whole world knows what they are. 🙂
@Geno: Since always.
The answer to the reason they would not marry the black couple in that church is simple. If they maryy one black couple then the black couples will start to line up to get married in that church. Then the blacks, little by little will start going to that church and before long the blacks will outnumber the whites and then starts the white flight, and before you know it you have another predominately black church. Now that is what the whites of that biggoted church believe, and I don care if they deny it until hell freezes over that is the reason.
@Steve: I agree. I would love to see the looks on the faces of the congregation if the pastor turned right around and preached a sermon on racial intolerance, not naming names of course, but guilting the crap out of their pants.
Christians really don’t act Christ-like these days.
#18 My grandparents built a house in the late 1940’s about 10 miles from a major city. It was farmland then of course. They went to the little wooden church built in 1880 something and then in 1950s built the “new church”. Blacks started leaving the city and moving to this particular suburb. Eventually they became a majority at this church and didn’t want to do anything the minority, but still significant number of old timers (white) wanted to do. This was regarding everything; worship, activities or types of songs. The white people were very accomodating at first, but when the blacks became a majority, they didn’t do the same. So the white people left. So obviously, the point is that it isn’t always racism.
@Avenger: I really do think you’re missing the bigger picture of a situation like this. It’s good that they are offended. Why? It brings attention to the hypocrisy that is rampant in this country.
Not every Christian is a bigot, and when more of them see their fellow Christians doing hateful things, it might make them start to question their stance on a lot of things in their belief system.
Mississippi, the Shame of America.
(Along with Republicans.)
J@Andrew: Just because they go to a church doesn’t make them a Christian any more than going to a bar would make them a bottle of Jack Daniel’s.
@Ren: On the surface, I totally agree with you also but just like everything else, this is not so black and white – no pun intended. It’s not so black and white because of a thing called the law. Whereas this country prides itself on freedom of religion – even the THEY have to worship within the boundraries of the law (which clearly prohibts racial discrimination). It’s almost like saying a religion has a right to kill someone for sacraficial religous reasons – well the last time I checked, an intention killing of someone is still considered murder under the law!!!
@Geoff B: Great analogy!!!
“I’m not saying I’m happy this happened to them”
You may as well, it’s obvious that you are…
“but a huge part of the black population is so quick to demonize the gays”
…and that has WHAT to do with this couple? Unless they have gone on record ‘demonizing the gays’ themselves, you applying generalizations on them makes *you* bigot. And if you are white then perhaps I should give you a cynical side-eye for how the largely white Catholic and Mormon churches, and well as the largely white Republican and Tea Party parties, ‘demonize’ gays (and THESE groups and organizations are a hell of a lot more powerful, and have done a hell of a lot more damage to the gay community, than the average black homophobe.) Let’s see how you handle that hot seat. Isn’t tit-for-tat fun?! See how easily tables can be turned back on you?
“a little bigotry towards blacks in the media should shed more light on discrimination by religion towards race AND sexual orientation”
This story has nothing to do with discrimination against gays. Stop trying to mesh sexual orientation into it to prove some kind of vague, very general, self-serving and opportunistic point.
Any self respecting Christian from this ongregation should demand that this church changes it’s unchristian policy. If that doesn’t work, leave this fake church.
No. 14 · Ren
Go to another church. Problem solved.
The sidewalk and streets in front of the church were built and maintained with taxpayer’s money. The fire department that would be called, the police force to protect them, etc, all paid for with taxpayer’s money. You get the idea.
Some of that taxpayers money came from this couple. Ironically, none of it comes from the church itself, since they are tax exempt. So if they expect the population to help maintain and protect them so that they can conduct their business, then they have to open their doors to everyone.
If they don’t feel that way, then they need to move to a completely self-sustaining commune. Their absence won’t be felt.
@Sabian: Your comment. Loved it. My thumbs are in the up position.
The law does not require any church to perform any religious ceremony for anyone. period. This just shows why the fears of so many about gay couples forcing churches to marry them are unfounded.
And in this case, the couple, although they “attended” this church regularly, never actually “joined” the church and were not “members” of the church.
But, membership wouldn’t even have mattered either. Catholics refuse to perform marriages for their members who are divorced all the time.
#27 I see your point, but you are so busy boiling over, you don’t get Kayak’s point. It seems to me that PEOPLE who have BEEN discriminated against would be a little more careful before discriminating against others. I think that was the ONLY point of this story.
In case you’re unaware, many minority groups have banded together at different places and times in THIS country to accomplish things against the majority. It happened in my own city when the blacks and catholics and jews joined forces to get rid of the KKK. My city had one of the first black motorcycle cops in the USA in the 1920’s.
@Sabian: A large population of Whites demonize the Gays too
Ronn, Ren: The fact that we have anti-discrimination laws and that the sidewalks etc. were built with taxpayer money does nothing to override the First Amendment protections of religious institutions to freedom of religious practice. Religious institutions define their own religious practices – not secular laws. As such, they generally can discriminate against anyone without running afoul of the law.
The exception would be business services that are offered to the general public. The rites of Holy Matrimony don’t fall under that. Renting out a pavilion would – which a Methodist Church in Ocean Beach, New Jersey learned the hard way when they refused a lesbian couple celebrating their civil union. In that case, the church wasn’t asked to officiate at the civil union, only to rent the pavilion to the couple, as they had to many other members of the public who weren’t affiliated with their church.
Do you see the difference? It’s not always the clearest of situations. But in the matter of refusing to marry a black couple, the church in question is exercising their constitutionally protected rights – whether or not we agree with their actions (and I don’t).
To compare this church not marrying this couple to that of the struggle of gay “marriage” is ridiculous and wrong. What we gay people are fighting for is for our marriages, which are simply legal contracts, to be recognized by all states and the federal government. We aren’t fighting – dumbasses at Queerty – for the right to get married inside a church. I’m Jewish (reformed) and my religion is personal to me. But my marriage to my partner is not – it a public contract. I guess the most basic ways to explain it to the ignorant bloggers at Queerty is like this – I can get a Driver’s License in my state of New York and that Driver’s License gives me all the basic rights to operate a car in every fifty states. I don’t have to get a different license if I want to drive in CT, PA or NJ for instance. That because my license is a civil contract. We in the gay community have got to stop confusing and comparing what we are doing for marriage equality with anything religious. It’s not. You can elect to have a marriage CEREMONY anywhere you want. But until you get that LICENSE you aren’t married. Two different things all together. We lose the marriage argument everytime we try to equate it with issues like this one. So this story has zero, zero to do with the gay community or our struggles for marriage equality.
Robert in NYC
Religious cults already discriminate and it’s perfectly legal. The Roman and Episcopalian cults do not marry divorced straight people and of course aren’t required to acknowledge or participate in same-sex marriages. They and their affiliates have more exclusions to discriminate than any other “businesses” I know of. It’s not much different than the Chik-Fil-A debacle, a christian based business which I’m sure is affiliated to one of the religious hate cults.
Churches have a first amendment right to whatever invidious discrimination they want to practice. Any suit against this church wouldn’t have a legal leg to stand on. This is a prime example of why “religious liberty” objections to legally recognizing marriages between same-sex couples are nonsense. I wish the churches would see that just as they have a 1st amendment right to be bigoted pr1cks, we have an equal 14th amendment right to equal treatment under the law. These things are not in conflict, but if they were, I think I know whose rights SHOULD suffer…
Racism is a really f*ck*d up thing
I don’t doubt that Charles Wilson identifies as black, but if you asked me to describe him I’d say he looks mixed race. If he was from the UK, where I’m from, he’d quite likely identify as such. I know that in most parts of Africa many people would consider him to be white. I’ve met plenty of Arabs and people from North Africa with a similar skin tone to his who do identify as white.
Something I really admire about the people from South America that I have met in the UK is that every one I ever had to ask (I’ve worked on a lot of opinion surveys) didn’t identify with a color – whatever their skin tone – they just identified as Latin American. If you showed them a list of options that didn’t include “Latin American” they wouldn’t choose white, or black, or mixed race etc. they’d say “I’m not on there. I’m Latin American.” So I get the impression that the people of South America, with all their separate nation states, are way more united than the people of the United States of America.
All that got me thinking what are the attitudes like to interracial marriage down in Mississippi these days? And it seems that there are still many people in the Deep South who believe it should be illegal – and many others aren’t sure if it should be or not!
Obviously LGBT Americans have a real battle on their hands to get their equal marriage rights any time soon – or any time at all I’m afraid.
@Robert in NYC: Since when do Episcopalians not allow remarriage after divorce? My brother is Episcopalian, and just last year was married, in church by the priest, to his second wife.
(I don’t know where the first one went, and as long as the answer is “far away” I don’t much care.)
Actually, this is a great opportunity to discuss the rights of religious organizations to discriminate with, say, Mitt Romney. He’s cool with the Boy Scouts being straight-only, so how about churches being white-only? I’m curious to hear.
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Robert in NYC
@Hyhybt: I meant “Anglicans”.
@Robert in NYC: Ah. Thanks.
Wasting Federal Work Time
I think the only poster on here that makes a bit of sense is the SPAM from No.41 …cant even stay on subject.
I.e subject was black couple, last post was talking about boy scouts… wtf?
@Wasting Federal Work Time: The subject is bigotry.
Black people really need to stop convincing themselves they are the only discriminated bunch. You’re not.
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