All Dressed in ... White

July 31, 2012

Over the weekend, news broke that a Southern Baptist church in Mississippi refused to let a black couple get married in its building because of their race. Yes, this story is occurring in 2012! Although much progress has been made in race relations over the past century, clearly the work remains far from finished. The woman had attended the church (First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs) for about a year and the man about a month. Yet, the pastor, Stan Weatherford, reportedly received calls threatening to fire him if he held the wedding at the church. So he moved the wedding to another church, explaining:

I didn't want to have a controversy within the church and I didn't want a controversy to effect the wedding of Charles and Te' Andrea. I wanted to make sure their wedding day was a special day.
This comment makes little sense. How does forcing the couple to move the wedding not effect their day? And since when is controversy so problematic that a minister will go along with racist threats just to avoid it? If only he would have stood up to the threats he could have helped the couple get married where they wanted, taught some members an important lesson about God, and likely avoided most of negative press for his church. If the pastor really did move the wedding to save his job, then church should give him the freedom to not worry about keeping that job any longer! After all, they clearly need someone who will lead, not cower. Fortunately church leaders have worked quickly to say the opposition to the wedding was wrong and that the church must be open to people of all races. State and national Southern Baptist leaders have also quickly criticized the action as wrong. Yet, all of it is too late to stop the damage the incident caused to the reputations of Mississippi, Southern Baptists, and, most importantly, the gospel.