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Aug 01 2012

Mississippi Church Refuses to Host Black Couple’s Wedding

From the “holy shit, is this 2012″ file: A predominately white Baptist church in Mississippi refused to allow a black couple that had been attending the church to get married there, forcing the pastor to perform the ceremony at a different church. Seriously.

Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson told WLBT that the day before they were to be married, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs informed them the ceremony would have to be moved due to the reaction of some white church members — even though the couple had attended the church regularly.

“The church congregation had decided no black could be married at that church, and that if [the pastor] went on to marry her, then they would vote him out the church,” Charles Wilson explained…

Dr. Stan Weatherford, the church’s pastor, was forced to perform the marriage at another church after he was taken by surprise by his congregation’s outrage.

“This had never been done before here, so it was setting a new precedent, and there are those who reacted to that because of that,” Weatherford said. “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.”

Church officials said they would hold meetings to decide what to do if another non-white couple wanted to use their facility in the future. They insisted that all races were welcome at the church.

Oh yes, we welcome black people! That’s very welcoming. So will Weatherford be preaching a sermon telling his congregation to stop being racist assholes? I doubt it. He caved so quickly on the wedding that it’s hard to imagine he’ll suddenly summon a spine now that it’s over.

Sing with me: And they’ll know we are Christians by our bigotry, by our bigotry…

37 comments

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  1. 1
    TGAP Dad

    But… but… it’s impossible to have teh moralz without JHVH! These were obviously not True Xtians™.

  2. 2
    Gregory in Seattle

    “They insisted that all races were welcome at the church.” As long as they are white.

  3. 3
    Larry

    I wanted to make sure their wedding day was a special day.

    Mission accomplished, pastor, mission accomplished.

    Does anybody still wonder why the south has the reputation it does of being the home of racist troglodytes?

  4. 4
    gesres

    I didn’t want to have a controversy within the church

    Heaven forbid that the minister cause a controversy by standing up for what’s right. He needs to deliver a thundering sermon on hypocrisy.

  5. 5
    imrryr

    And Jesus went into the temple of God, and he would’ve cast out all of them who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrown the tables of the moneychangers, but he didn’t want to have a controversy within the church.

    Hmm… doesn’t quite work as well, I think.

  6. 6
    eric

    if [the pastor] went on to marry her, then they would vote him out the church,” Charles Wilson explained…

    So it would’ve been a double win; you stand up to bigotry AND gain a perfectly valid reason to change congregations.

  7. 7
    steve84

    It’s all about the money. They were happy to take their money when the collection plate went around, but when it came time to deliver a service, the revenue stream was threatened by those that were against it, so the pastor rather went with the money.

  8. 8
    MikeMa

    Sad but not surprising. I had a neighbor in MD a few years ago who argued that slavery was good for the slaves. Straight-faced and earnest. There are some attitudes that never moved past the late 1800s.

  9. 9
    Raging Bee

    They insisted that all races were welcome at the church.

    Yeah, they welcome all kinds there: white, off-white, and beige. Maybe even white with up to 25% nonwhite content. Why it’s a total rainbow down there…

    On the one hand, I don’t blame the pastor for caving in the short term — this was a wedding, and his primary duty was to properly make it happen according to his (and the couple’s) beliefs. A wedding is not really the place for a political/doctrinal fight.

    OTOH, yes, he bloody well should go back and give his flock a nice hellfire sermon on the evils of racism, hypocricy, exclusion, and mean-girl vindictive crybaby immaturity. I’m sure he’ll be able to cobble up an impressive mass of Bible quotes to back it up.

    We should keep an eye on this and see how Christianity makes people more moral.

  10. 10
    jimmiraybob

    gesres@#4 –

    He needs to deliver a thundering sermon on hypocrisy.

    I’m guessing that he’ll deliver a thundering sermon on how gay marriage and uppity wimmens are dire threats to marriage. You know, traditional stuff now that slavery’s off the table.

  11. 11
    Raging Bee

    jimmyraybob: sadly, I suspect that’s what he’ll do: he won’t be able to stand up to his flock and say they were wrong, period; he’ll have to say something like “why are we so divided amongst ourselves, when we should be united ‘in Christ’ [whatever the fuck that means] against our REAL enemies, the gays, liberals, atheists, feminists…?”

  12. 12
    democommie

    “Sad but not surprising. I had a neighbor in MD a few years ago who argued that slavery was good for the slaves. Straight-faced and earnest. There are some attitudes that never moved past the late 1800s.”

    I see a missed educational moment. You might have overpowered him, bound him and kept him in the cellar for a few days, allowing him to come out only long enough to till the fields (mow the lawn) or do household chores. Conversely, you could have just driven him over to the nearest swap meet and let the “invisible hand” determine his worth.

    “On the one hand, I don’t blame the pastor for caving in the short term — this was a wedding, and his primary duty was to properly make it happen according to his (and the couple’s) beliefs. A wedding is not really the place for a political/doctrinal fight.”

    I disagree. If you have principles of decency and fairness you simply walk away from the bigots and ask a pastor in another church to allow you to co-officiate. One of the major problems with bigotry is allowing the bigots to control the terms of the struggle. If it was my wedding, I’d want the pastor I chose to be involved, unless he was as spineless as the one in this situation. In this case, I’d want someone else to do the ceremony.

  13. 13
    Raging Bee

    PS: do you really think slavery is, or ever was, really “off the table” with that crowd?

  14. 14
    d cwilson

    The right thing to do would have been to hold the weddding at the church as planned and then tack his letter of resignation on the office door.

  15. 15
    CT Chimako.27

    Maybe even white with up to 25% nonwhite content.

    No, racists of this caliber won’t accept this as white. 4 generations is the ‘accepted’ standard, that would be more like 1/16 or something. whatever the hell that means. I’m ashamed I know this shit. pardon me while I vomit.

  16. 16
    Alverant

    So the pastor violated the contract he had with the wedding couple (he did promise to hold the ceremony there) because some other people protested. Whose church is it anyway? Does he want people who would protest a wedding to be part of his church? At least he tried to make it up to them, but think of the hassel involved in telling all the guests the venue has changed at the last minute. You can tell by the ammount of press this has gotten which side mainstream christianity supports.

  17. 17
    baal

    That church does allow for all races to marry*.

    *just that some folks (those not white enough) need to use the backup facility.

    (insert NDT throwing up his hands gif here)

    @ democommie, I love the forced relevant experience idea. I think we need tighter privacy laws and folks disagree. I usually then let them know I’ll be over later to video their evening, rummage their possessions and check out their banking records, health care records and browser history.

  18. 18
    John Hinkle

    The white folk felt snubbed because they weren’t invited to the wedding. I wonder why they weren’t invited?

  19. 19
    Raging Bee

    demo: you make a good point — but why should a couple make a loving relationship official in a place where they’d be surrounded by hate? This looks like a case of fighting a good fight, but not actually winning anything good. I hate to say this, but in this case the bigots had a tactical advantage (which is probably why they chose to fight when they did), so any attempt to fight that particular battle would have been useless at best. The good guys could have “won,” but they wouldn’t have won much.

    I’m reminded of an old “Kung Fu” episode where an old Native American walks into a white town, looks around, smiles, sits down in the middle of the main dirt-road, and declares “This is where I will die and be buried.” The whites howl and scream about how they don’t want no heathen savages buried in their proper little lily-white village. The Indian goes to the town council and talks about how his people used to live there or something, and after a bitter high-school-level squabble, the council decides to let the Indian be buried according to his desires. Then the Indian changes his mind, has Kane cremate him instead and spread his ashes over the main street. Kane explains to one of the white townies that the Indian had chosen to cover the town with his love, rather than let it cover him with their hate.

    Not sure where I was going with that reference, but it doesn’t always make sense to fight every fight that presents itself, just because you’re right.

  20. 20
    thisisaturingtest

    Usually, in cases like this, I can tear into what is presented as a veneer to justify the racism, any smallest particle of a pretense to something besides racism. Here, they’re not even trying to say anything other than, “but they’re black!” This is horrifying, even for Mississippi (and I live here, ffs).

  21. 21
    Erp

    First a few clearing points, as a Baptist church the church probably is under the control of the congregation (or the elders) not the pastor. Also any drop of black made one black under the old laws; multiple generations (at least in Virginia) could make someone with native American ancestry white (Virginia had some number of its elite descended from Pocahontas and they weren’t going to vote themselves non-white).

    From other accounts it does seem that it was a vocal minority (probably a few of the elders who had immediate control of the purse strings and possibly the keys to various parts of the church) and many of the congregation are saying they would have been fine with the wedding (that would not have happened 40 years ago). I guess the question now is words or action. Will the congregation be removing from power those who caused the wedding to be moved?

  22. 22
    jimmiraybob

    ragingbee@13 –

    PS: do you really think slavery is, or ever was, really “off the table” with that crowd?

    While there appears to be a fair amount of neoconfederate nostalgia on the right, it just seems impossible that anyone would be able to turn back the clock. Why, first you’d have to wage a state’s rights campaign to overturn the 14th amendment, then a state’s rights campaign for nullification, then a state’s rights campaign for voter suppression, and then a campaign to make minorities the “other” and “unAmerican,” and then a campaign to make sure all of your base was well armed with little to no restrictions on “standing your ground,” then wage a campaign to neutralize liberals and progressives, and then ……

    Oh oh.

  23. 23
    eric

    Rading Bee:

    On the one hand, I don’t blame the pastor for caving in the short term — this was a wedding, and his primary duty was to properly make it happen according to his (and the couple’s) beliefs.

    Seems pretty clear from the story that the couple and the pastor were okay with holding it in the church, it was other congregational members that objected.

    I think d cwilson’s response is the right one: hold the ceremony and quit/get fired for it. Though given Erp’s comment, I would also have accepted “hold it elsewhere if you can’t legally/contractualy hold it in the church, THEN tack letter of resignation to the office door.”

  24. 24
    Michael Heath

    There’s a possibility Ed and some of you are being unfair to this pastor. I heard his side on CNN; which didn’t report the congregation in general opposed the wedding as reported, but instead a handful of congregants.

    When I first listened into this report I too was chagrined at how the pastor caved, but after hearing his side I realized his reaction was the prudent one and in the interests of this couple. It’s their personal special day, not a day to take on a political issue within this church.

    This event does provide an opportunity for this pastor to rid his church of racism. Whether he makes a legitimate effort or not is not something I think we can safely predict. On the one hand he said all the right things in his CNN interview, on the other hand we know that conservatives Christians promote bigotry where bigotry certainly exists within some congregants of this church, perhaps all of them when we extend their bigotry to other groups, like females, GBLTs, Muslims, Mormons, atheists, secularists, Democrats, liberals, etc. Whether this racist form of bigotry is an outlier or a systemic attribute remains to be seen. In addition this event might even serve as a wake-up call for improvement by many of the congregants where they improve themselves.

  25. 25
    Kengi

    Blacks are welcome so long as they know their place and only sit in the back of the church.

  26. 26
    Midnight Rambler

    There’s a possibility Ed and some of you are being unfair to this pastor. I heard his side on CNN; which didn’t report the congregation in general opposed the wedding as reported, but instead a handful of congregants.

    Yes, as the AP story said, it was not “the congregation” that objected as reported here, but some of the elders who are in charge of the church (and, I’m guessing, deserving of the name). Most of the church members were pretty shocked by it.

  27. 27
    gingerbaker

    Question: is the church not obligated to hold the wedding where the couple wanted, as otherwise the church would be breaking Federal antidiscrimination Law? Native American religious ceremonies involving the use of peyote can not take place because they are in violation of Federal drug laws.

    And if not -if they are exempted – how does that shake out as far as a pecking order of protected status? The right to religious bigotry trumps all other rights?

    And if that is true, isn’t that a pretty eloquent argument that religion freedom enjoys way too much status?

  28. 28
    Pierce R. Butler

    But would the pastor and the elders allow the happy couple to use their restroom?

  29. 29
    CT Chimako.27

    I live in the South and this:

    Most of the church members were pretty shocked by it.

    is bullshit. If any members were shocked by it, then they weren’t members who went to church every week. If they were shocked by anything, it was that people dragged this dead rotting carcass out into the sun for the rest of the world to see. Unfortunately I can very well imagine the stigma this couple is going through right now.

  30. 30
    oranje

    The Henry Ford Model T model of racial equality: All races are welcome here as long as they’re white.

  31. 31
    Noadi

    @gingerbaker Churches are exempt from anti-discrimination laws much the same way private clubs are. They aren’t open to the general public the way businesses and most non-profits do (religious based non-profits that serve the general public are supposed to follow non-discrimination laws).

  32. 32
    Noadi

    Ooops, hit submit too soon.

    The point of what I was saying is that anti-discrimination laws have as part of the language that they apply only to organizations which serve the general public. This is why many country clubs still get away with not allowing women to be members (though the law says they can’t discriminate against their employees in this way only their members). Churches have further exemption from those laws for employees but that is a different topic and the way the ministerial exemption works is weird.

  33. 33
    lofgren

    I could give the pastor the benefit of the doubt for making the devil’s bargain and asking the couple to move the wedding. But the only moral response left to him then would be to walk up to the podium the following Sunday and announce his resignation, and take any non-haters in the congregation with him.

    There is also an argument for sticking around and trying to change the congregation from within, moral instruction being part of the pastor’s job. But if you’re going to go that route, you can’t cave to the immoral demands of the racists for any reason.

    There are only two acceptable choices, stand and fight or remove yourself from the situation. You can’t acquiesce and collaborate and still claim you are doing the right thing.

  34. 34
    RickR

    But remember folks, we have to “protect traditional marriage” and fight marriage equality or real christian churches™ will be forced by law to marry teh gayz!! It’s a religious freedom issue!!11!

    Just ask this couple.

  35. 35
    RickR

    Gingerbaker asks- “The right to religious bigotry trumps all other rights?”

    In U.S. churches, yes. Yes it does. Churches discriminate all the time- different churches in different ways. Some Catholic churches (maybe all? I don’t know.) won’t marry people who have been divorced, for example.

  36. 36
    anubisprime

    It is a very ugly mess…religion is confused, dazed and crashing & burning in a tangle of dogmatic bigotry.

    They are being dragged kicking,screaming and crying into the 21st century, it is against their wishes, oh dear…how sad…never mind!

  37. 37
    kantalope

    If only there was some precedent for a religious leader to forcefully protest when a religious organization had gone off the track…
    And then if the religious leader was willing to undertake serious self sacrifice for the greater good. Something like that could really catch on.

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