Avoidance

So some members of a Baptist church came to the pastor and said, we heard you’re marrying some black folks in here and we’re not okay with that.

All due respect, my children, the pastor replied, that you are freaked out by non-white peoples is not Jesus’s major problem at the moment. Nor is it mine. I am sorry, but you are going to have to suck it up and just … I don’t know, not come to the wedding? Were you even invited? Then what the heck do you care? Go home, watch Storage Wars and smoke marijuana like normal people do on Saturdays.

Except not:

Insiders say five or six members went to the Rev. Stan Weatherford after seeing the couple’s wedding rehearsal the Thursday night before their Saturday wedding.

The church pastor said he was surprised by the reaction of some church members.

“I didn’t want to have a controversy within the church, and I didn’t want a controversy to affect the wedding of Charles and Te’Andrea. I wanted to make sure their wedding day was a special day,” Weatherford told WLBT-Channel 3.

Charles Wilson said it was a huge disappointment that he and his wife couldn’t get married at the church they attended because of the color of their skin.

“I feel like it was blatant racial discrimination,” Wilson said Friday.

The 150-year-old church hasn’t had any black couples married there in modern times. Weatherford married the couple but moved the ceremony to a nearby church.

He didn’t want to have a controversy, so he appeased the loudest, angriest people in the room, and told the couple who wanted to get married that they’d have to move so that … I don’t get exactly what they were hurting. He didn’t want to have a controversy. Well, he’s sure got one now, and it’s well deserved.

I like the line about how it was the rehearsal that got the bigots upset, because the bride and her family had been involved with the church for a while and the groom had been attending. So a couple of black people in the congregation on Sundays was okay, but a whole bunch of ’em? Like more than three? Standing together? Clearly that’s an invasion of some sort and we can’t have that.

And the comments are full of “this isn’t the whole church, some of us like black people, etc” which I’m sure is also true. The defending your own Something about that, though: The five or six people who asked him to get the black couple out of sight of their white eyeballs are assholes, but there are always assholes in the world. All the bigots will not eventually die out. It will never happen. They don’t win when they act like bigots, they win when nice-enough well-meaning people who are supposed to be better than this decide that in order to keep the bigots quiet, we all should pretend to agree with them.

In which case not only is the controversy not avoided, but nobody learns anything and nobody grows one bit. You can avoid and avoid and avoid, and keep shrinking the world down so that eventually it’s just a ten-by-ten room with you and your fellow racists, but that’s not living, people, that’s not life. In a church of all places you should be throwing the doors wide, letting in as many people as possible, especially the ones who aren’t familiar to you and the ones who make you nervous and the ones you aren’t sure you’re gonna like.

That’s the only way any of this gets better. I can sit in my house with my fellow white people and think about how I need to be less of a racist, but I’m not gonna be less of a racist unless I get out there and get to know a lot more people and start ACTING LIKE LESS OF A RACIST. This pastor could have done quite a job by asking people who objected to the wedding to attend it, or watch the video later (admitting creepy bigoted busybodies to your wedding not being a thing many people want to do, shockingly) or really anything else up to and including telling these few people who have nothing more pressing to worry about to shut the holy hell up.

That wouldn’t have avoided controversy, certainly. Last I checked, though, the head of that particular religion got himself nailed to a tree for making a scene in public about the treatment of the downtrodden. Maybe he should have just moved somewhere else.

A.

8 thoughts on “Avoidance

  1. Jude says:

    Personally, and this is why I’m not a preacher man (well, that and the whole “there’s no god” thing), I would’ve told the people who objected to the wedding where, exactly, to suck me on the dick.

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  2. Athenae says:

    Alger, this all went down like two days before their wedding. At which point you are generally so far beyond the beyond that it’s like look, let’s get this DONE. Auditioning new preachers would have been damn near impossible. Moving a hall was bad enough.
    A.

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  3. MapleStreet says:

    Even the mysoginist laws of the early 1900s allowed 2 blacks to marry. Just couldn’t have a black marry a white. In fact, if I’m in support of marriage, shouldn’t black folk be married too?
    Unfortunately, the ultraconservative far-right has gotten so used to bullying their way that a handful of people in a church could bully through this unethical demand. I see this as the same strategy that disrupted town meetings on healthcare reform by loud hysterics.
    Right on to SB’s comment to Matt 10:34 and to Alger in commenting that Christian Theology Marriage is not just 2 people but 2 people, a faith community, and the blessing of the Church.

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  4. Alger says:

    My question is, why did this couple allow this spineless wonder of a Weatherford conduct their wedding?
    It’s pretty clear that he doesn’t consider them full members of his congregation, and he is obviously unaware the core message of Christianity. Rev. Weatherford is a moral failure, a man who by virtue of his position should have been fully aware that surrendering to hatred is complicity with hatred and still moved the darkie wedding to another venue to appease the bigots.
    I am sure he meant well, but that road to Hell is well maintained by well-meaning idiots like Weatherford.

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  5. “He didn’t want to have a controversy …”
    Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, here, last November, when a Kentucky congregation voted to not allow an interracial couple to wed in its church, too. Same scenario: they took a vote, and some people were too chicken shit to take a stand. In the name of “greater unity,” and “not wanting to have a controversy,” they didn’t vote at all. They looked the other way.
    This is what Jesus meant when he said in Matthew 10:34, “I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” He didn’t mean we should bomb the crap out of Baghdad or Tehran or Moscow or wherever. He meant, when injustice is being done in our midst, SPEAK UP. Offend people. Piss people off. Make a controversy. BE the controversy. “Bring a sword.”
    And you know, the fact that so many so-called “Christians” still don’t get that is beyond infuriating. It really shows how the gospel has been corrupted. The church as an institution is dead.

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  6. Alger says:

    @ Athena: Agreed that it would be inconvenient to reschedule the wedding, but certainly worth it. If nothing else they needed to look for another minister and church willing to step in. Any decent pastor would clear the objections and the calendar to accommodate this couple.
    If the idea was to have the blessing of their church, this half-assed solution failed in several key ways:
    They were not married in their church, as in the building where they worship.
    They were not married in their community.
    They were not married by a minister of God.
    This solution ignores that the church is the people, not the service.

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  7. Jude says:

    You know that more than three black people in one place legally constitutes a riot in this country. Jeez. Cut the good god-fearin’ folk of Mississippi some credit.
    Yes. My home state. Making me proud. AGAIN.

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  8. Escariot says:

    Ok…so I read the most excellent post about newsroom…and understand about not fighting other people’s fights. And I get it that by giving into the five or six asholes in the church the minister is complicit, but I kind of want to see these people called out. I want their faces on the news…but then the right would make them martyrs I suppose. they would become the victims for expressing their oh so sacred right of free speech, AKA the right to be fucking asholes.
    Sheesh.

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