Stella Harville / AP via TIME. The Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church, voted to ban interracial couples after this couple sang a song there.
This past week, a pastor from a Baptist church in Pike County, Kentucky instituted a ban against interracial couples from either joining his congregation or taking part in select church activities.
And I’m okay with that.
(I know, easy for me to say. I live a few hundred miles away in New York City, and, at this time, have no interest in ever joining a Baptist church, either with my African-American husband, or without him.)
Like Evelyn Beatrice Hall (and not Voltaire; although it’s a common misattribution) wrote: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” I heartily and wholly disapprove of the sentiment – but I insist that the pastor had the right to express it.
A church is a private organization, and a private organization can pick and choose its membership based on any criteria they desire. It is then up to the current members to decide if this is an organization with which they can, should, and will continue to identify. (They can also, presumably, vote to change those aspects with which they do not agree – if the association is structured in such a manner, and current news reports suggest that may soon be the case in Pike County, either from the general membership or from higher-up in the church’s hierarchy.)
Obviously, my husband and I would not – even if we could – remain members of a church which did not allow White/Black (or any other combination) of couples.
On the other hand – before anybody gets to feeling too superior – we are currently members of a Conservative Jewish congregation which allows us to pay the family membership rate – but does not consider my non-Jewish husband a member, and does not extend him voting rights.
When we got married 13 years ago, there were rabbis who refused to perform the wedding ceremony. And when we had our first son (and our second), there were mohels who similarly would not do the bris.
And I was – still am – okay with that. Read the rest of this entry →