It just amazes me that in this day and age, shit like this is still going on:
A small Pike County church has voted not to accept interracial couples as members or let them take part in some worship activities.
You’re going to have to go to the Lexington newspaper and just read the whole story because it will break your heart. The short version is that a 24-year-old woman came home from college and brought her fiancee, a native of Zimbabwe, to her family church last summer. The two performed a hymn during worship — he sang, she played piano. Needless to say, she is white and he is black and that didn’t sit well with a group of people at this small Freewill Baptist church. Finally the church took action this month to make sure such an atrocity never happens again:
In early November, Thompson proposed the church go on record saying that while all people were welcome to attend public worship services there, the church did not condone interracial marriage, according to a copy of the recommendation supplied by the Harvilles.
The proposal also said “parties of such marriages will not be received as members, nor will they be used in worship services” or other church functions, with the exception of funerals.
The recommendation “is not intended to judge the salvation of anyone, but is intended to promote greater unity among the church body and the community we serve,” the copy supplied to the Herald-Leader read.
Members at a business meeting decided to put the matter before the whole church. Last Sunday, nine people voted for the proposal and six voted against it, Harville said.
There were more people in attendance, but some didn’t want to take a stand, he said.
So, that’s nice. They’re making sure this couple won’t even think of getting married in that church, but they can attend a funeral. That’s so … big of them.
Pike County is in Eastern Kentucky: it’s Appalachia, it’s coal country. Not a lot of people of color in this part of the state, so perhaps this story is not a big surprise but it is a shame. I’m really not that surprised that nine people voted for such a heinous declaration, telling themselves (no doubt) that they aren’t racist, oh no! But some people might be uncomfortable and so “in the name of the greater unity,” we’ll go along with this.
Unity, yes. It’s so important.
Jesus didn’t come to bring unity. He came to bring a sword, to “set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” Because doing what is right is never popular. It’s divisive. It makes people uncomfortable. It can tear families apart. Yes: even church families.
And you people who didn’t want to take a stand? What the hell is wrong with you? Do you think God doesn’t know what’s in your hearts? Shame on you.
I must point out that preventing people from taking part in the life of a church is how GLBT people have been shunned by organized religion since forever. Oh sure, you can come to Sunday services, they might even find a chair for you in adult Sunday school, and they’ll sure take your offering, but if you want to sing in the choir or serve in a leadership capacity or serve communion: no can do. That’s just a bridge too far for some people. “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” isn’t that how this one goes?
In fact, it wasn’t until this summer that the PC(USA) denomination — the “liberal” Presbyterian Church — voted to lift the ban on ordaining GLBT clergy and elders. Elders serve communion and are involved in church governance; preventing gays and lesbians from involvement in these important church affairs basically banishes them from having a voice in their congregation. On top of that, if any GLBT couple wanted to get married in a PC(USA) church, and the clergy was willing to perform the service, it couldn’t happen. Marriages are worship ceremonies in the Presbyterian Church. Until the church assembly lifted this ban, pastors could have been removed from their posts for performing a same-sex marriage service.
So this stuff is way bigger than just making sure gays don’t serve as clergy. It’s a way of closing the church doors to congregants, too. And I really fail to see how it’s any different from this Pike County church recommendation.
Thankfully, the PC(USA) assembly voted to change its policy (after a very long, very protracted effort that took many years). Good on them, it was about time. But plenty of other denominations still think it’s okay to discriminate. I wonder if they saw a copy of the Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church’s declaration, with the word “interracial” replaced with “gay,” what they’d say.