Saturday, July 28, 2012

Yes, stuff like this still happens. Sigh.

This story is from 1960, right? After all, this is post-racial America, right? Our president is black, so we're totally over our history of racism, even though an awful lot of it was institutionalized at the highest levels of government and in our founding document. We don't still have racism. And honestly, it's the people still talking about race who are stirring up the trouble.

Or in 2012, we still live in a country where a church congregation will come together and tell a black couple, "No, you can't get married in our church." The wedding had been scheduled for months, but on the day before the wedding, the church let the pastor know that the wedding was unacceptable and that his job would be in jeopardy if he proceeded. Now in an ideal world, the pastor would quit, perhaps, but he lives in the real world where he has to feed his family. As it stands, he married the couple in another location. In another article, the pastor was quoted as saying that he thought a venue change was best because he didn't want to risk there being a scene at the church that could ruin the couple's day. Seems reasonable to me. No reason for the poor couple who just wanted to have a happy day to have to face angry congregants who don't want their church defiled. (Turns out there had never before been a wedding involving a person of color at that church and the congregants didn't want to spoil that tradition.)

My favorite line from the article:

The church is now holding internal meetings to figure out how it should respond to future requests by black couples to be married there

Really, what is there to figure out? When a black couple or an Asian couple or an Arab couple or a couple that is made up of any combination of races other than lily white comes to your church and says, "We like your church and we want to commit our lives to each other in front of god and family," you say, "Congratulations! That would be lovely and here are the dates that are available." Surely that's a better answer than, "Actually, we're a bunch of racist jerks and we've never let anyone but pretty, pretty white people get married here and we'd hate to break that streak, so just head on out and find yourself some other church that will let you darken its door."

I sincerely hope the people of Jackson, Mississippi shame the hell out of the members of this church. I hope that the members who disagree with this disgusting display of racism rise up and reclaim their church from the bigots. And if they're outnumbered, I hope they all resign and find a more welcoming church.

Most importantly, I hope the lovely couple enjoyed their special day in spite of the dark shadow that was cast on it. And that they may have a lifetime of happiness.


BellsforStacy said...

this story blows my mind. I keep looking for the "Actually what happened was..." story but there isn't one. I don't see how anyone could do that, and I am disappointed in the pastor. And if this is a Baptist church associated with the convention than they ought to say something too.

S said...

Right? I get the pastor's point in moving the ceremony so that the poor couple's wedding could go off without a scene, though I wonder if anything would actually have happened. But I would like to think that I would willingly give up my job if I were that pastor. But then again, maybe to a pastor, this is a congregation who needs some serious leadership. I hadn't thought about the greater Baptist body. I would like to think they would say something.

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