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White Mississippi Church to Black Couple: You Can’t Tie Knot Here

By Zachary Conn on July 27, 2012 - 3:32 pm, Posted in Anti-Black

It’s been more than 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously called Sunday morning at 11 “the most segregated hour of Christian America.” Although many congregations have since integrated – or at least no longer actively oppose the idea – some still haven’t gotten the message.

Just ask Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson of Jackson, Miss. They say a predominantly white church refused to marry them on Saturday because of their race.

The couple had sent out invitations and printed programs announcing that the ceremony would be held at First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs. But the church’s pastor, Rev. Stan Weatherford, called them on Friday to say that wouldn’t be possible.

“He had people in the sanctuary that were pitching a fit about us being a black couple,” Te’Andrea told the Jackson-area NBC affiliate. The Wilsons were not members of the congregation but had regularly attended services there.

Congregants threatened the pastor that if he married the couple “they would vote him out the church,” Charles Wilson said.

Weatherford decided it would be best for everyone if he performed the ceremony at a different church nearby in Crystal Springs, a small town of 5,000 residents a half-hour outside of Jackson.

“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,” Weatherford said.

Weatherford said he was surprised by the opposition voiced by what he termed a small minority of the congregation. No African-American had ever been married at the church, which was established in 1883, “so it was setting a new precedent and there are those who reacted to that,” he said.

Church officials now say they welcome any race into their congregation and will hold internal discussions on how to respond should this particular issue reoccur.

To Charles Wilson, the First Baptist Church’s behavior flies in the face of true Christian values. “I blame those members who knew and call themselves Christian and didn’t stand up,” he said.

His wife agreed. She was “brought up in the church to love and care for everybody,” regardless of race.

This isn’t the first time racial strife has struck Crystal Springs.

In 1966, Eddie James Stewart was reportedly the victim of a racially motivated killing while in the custody of the town’s police. They claimed he was shot during an escape attempt.

In 1999, Dan M. Gibson, then-mayor of Crystal Springs, spoke at a gathering of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) during a failed run for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. The CCC, at the time seeking a “mainstream” image, is directly descended from the White Citizens Councils that bitterly resisted integration in the 1950s and 1960s.

Nor is the First Baptist Church the only Deep South congregation recently caught keeping Jim Crow on life support.

Earlier this month, a Winfield, Ala., church courted controversy by advertising an “Annual Pastors Conference” with “all white Christians invited.” Rev. William C. Collier defended his event’s racial exclusivity to the Birmingham-area TV station. “We don’t have the facilities to accommodate other people. We haven’t got any invitations to black, Muslim events. Of course we are not invited to Jewish events and stuff.”

“Of course,” indeed. Rev. Collier’s Church of God’s Chosen is affiliated with the racist, anti-Semitic Christian Identity movement, which claims Jews are “the devil’s spawn,” and whites the true biblical chosen people.

  • Erika

    *sigh* nobody is calling for the government to regulate churches.

    freedom of religion (or speech) does not equal freedom from criticism.

    why is this concept so difficult to understand? its about as easy as law gets :)

  • Joseph

    Annie, I know about freedom. I have been to countries where freedom was taken away. I have been to countries where freedom was dictated by religion. I have been to countries were freedom was new. I have been to countries were legally, the people were free, but actually, babies were getting their heads chopped off by machetes and kids were kidnapped, drugged, raped, and forced to be soldiers for warlords. And since it’s been 10 years, I can tell you where I’ve been.

    Do you know about freedom or do you just recite what you hear at your “club gatherings”?

  • Concerned Citizen

    This is a very interesting story. First. Churches hava a right to say and believe anything, even it is stupid.
    Secord. I don’t want to see the government regulate the churches(like the Orthodeox churches in Russia). This would be terrible. Third. Perhaps the miinster went aheead and marry this couple, even if it means he is tossed out of the church as the pastor.Fourth. Where were the opposition in the church to openly speaking out agains the minority, who opposes this wedding? Fifth and lastly.
    Aron hit it on the head.

  • Erika

    Annie, please see my post from 6:02 a.m. this morning.

    Oh and if you want to try to act like a Constitutional scholar you should at least get the basics right. The freedom of association is from the First and Ninth Amendments. The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizuress.

  • Reynardine

    Annie, you dear little ragdoll, before you let any more sawdust leak out of your open mouth, where did it say anyone was proposing that the government interfere? It was merely stated that when a minister was induced by a few louder members of his congregation to refuse to marry a heterosexual, monoracial couple who attended his services regularly, it was evidence of poor pastoral leadership. And, before you wag your little felt tongue again, please take note that the Fourth Amendment has nothng to do with freedom of association, but only with specific warrants on probable cause being required for searches, seizures, and arrests.

  • Steve

    Im not surprised by racism, I’m only surprised when black people are surprised by it

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Annie, please copy this sentence down, then write it on your bathroom mirror with colorful lipstick so you can see it every morning:

    “FREEDOM OF SPEECH DOES NOT EQUAL FREEDOM FROM CRITICISM.”

  • Annie

    The first amendment guarantees freedom of religion. The fourth amendment guarantees freedom of association. If any church does not wish to marry any couple — it is their constitutional right. Freedom. Do you know about freedom? No one has the right to force themselves on another person. This couple has no right to force themselves on this church. Under tyranny the government dictates and controls the private lives of people. My private life and whom I choose to associate with is none of your business. The church members have voluntarily chosen to associate with each other. They have the right to exclude whom they wish. If the government comes in and forces itself upon the private associations of free individuals and dictates whom they must associate with, that is tyranny.

  • Reynardine

    Monsieur Bright, if Ayn Rand was a virgin, then so am I, and I used to (before I knew better) get married a lot.

  • Reynardine

    Thank you, Joseph. I am most honored.

  • Reynardine

    I add that the reverend of that church, for his dislay of moral fortitude, be awarded a big bouquet of Viola x Wittrockiana.

  • Joseph

    REYNARDINE’S AWARD:

    And this is off subject, but I would like to present the Lifetime Achievement Award for Solid Democratic Values & Equality to Reynardine for professional achievement in the superior accuracy of her postings.

    Although I am new to this board, and a recent convert, I would like to recognize Reynardine for laying the smackdown on these “rudipoo conservative in the closet bigots”, and for wading through the everglades serving TROs on some other deserving jabronies.

    Reynardine gives younger people such as myself hope for the future of this country in that maybe one day, we can actually occupy the same space, at the same time, without beating the hell out of one another.

    Thank you ma’am for your service.

  • Reynardine

    Supersonic, maybe you, or someone, would like to institute (say) Shuttle awards, for the space cases who need most desperately to be brought back to earth. I daresay Mr. Waller would qualify.

  • Joseph

    PHILIP:

    Let’s say we agree with you. One group has the right to displace another, on private property no less.

    BUT WAIT: Isn’t the chuuch tax exempt??? That wouldn’t make it private property. Therefore, “thems black folks” would have the right to be there.

    Which would explain why they have not been seen out in some way, shape, or form before then. Since your private property argument is null and void.

    Do people have the freedom of association? Yes. But is it legal to do it with regard to marriage or affirmative action? I bid you to answer that one just to see if you know what the hell you’re talking about…or if you’re just speaking out of a hole in the middle of your neck.

    At any rate, to defend these actions as freedom of association is a thoughtless argument because you’re just saying that these people have to right to deny this couple a common human right because of their race and that is PLAIN OL’ ARCHAIC.

    Pardon my french, but, your an arsewhole.

    Now, if you hide your real name, and wear shades, you can link your club photo of you in all of your KuKluxKlan regalia and be proud to pass on this legacy to your children, who no doubt will end up, on a fossil fuel depraved spit of land, with tons of ammo and diluted drinking water waving several flags, cursing all who are of color, and worshipping “he who walks behind the rose”.

  • Reynardine

    Philip, you are not aptly named, as clearly, you are a Flathead.

  • Reynardine

    Aron, I cannot myself institute Eigrammy awards, because on occasion, I myself might be a contestant, but had they existed last week, surely Joseph would have gotten one.

  • Erika

    oopsie, I made a mistake! :(

    the KKK Grand Wizard’s name was actually Barry Black (you really can’t make this type of thing up) so the cross burning case was Virginia v. Black. For Supreme Court watchers the case was of course best known as one of the few times that they actually have seen a sign of life from Clarence Thomas during oral arguments.

  • Erika

    Philip, of course there is freedom of association. This church is perfectly free to put out a giant White’s Only sign and have all of their members show up every week wearing Klan robes and barbeque crosses on special occassions. Merely being a bigot isn’t illegal (actually burning crosses may well be, see Virginia v. White in which the KKK grand wizard was primarily represented by a Black attorney from the ACLU). The church is perfectly free to exclude everyone they do not like – and if you’ve ever experienced small town churches you know they will.

    However, freedom of association does not entitle one to be free from publicity and criticism. Hence, we have the full right to say that First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, Mississippi are a bunch of stupid racists. We also have the right to point and laugh at their bigotry and say how stupid they are.

    The church is perfectly free to be a bunch of bigots – however, they must accept the consequences of being bigots – and yes, that consequence will be criticism.

    Why is it that conservatives somehow think that the First Amendment protects them from criticism?

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “Perhaps we should have the Feds’ Department of Homeland Security descend upon this small church with machine guns, drones, dogs and the like and force them to cater to Blacks, Eskimos, gays, trans-gendered folks and pedophiles. That would prove that we are a ‘progressive’ society, right?”

    Why would you bring something like this up? Has this happened somewhere before, I mean, outside the paranoid minds of white conservatives?

  • http://Twitter.com/AronL Aron

    Philip,

    That’s funny. I don’t recall hearing anyone calling for a governmental intervention, or a threat to their free association.

    The SPLC simply reported the story.

    Now what if this had been a mosque? I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts you’d be singing a different tune, mister.

    And Rey, the Necrophilist’s award was hilarious. Though I am rather beginning to enjoy Joseph’s descriptions of his other various and sundry kinks. Worth reading about!

  • daemonesslisa

    Greg,

    I’ve noticed that there are some street-level groups fighting the racists in Canada–battles that have made headlines there over the years. But that’s not to say there are absolutely no groups at a national level. In this article, there’s a list of national-level advocacy groups.

    http://anti-racistcanada.blogs......html#more

    (Scroll down for the list)

  • Jack Wolford

    My son went thru this almost same happening with the “threat” from their ” Club” that they would fire him . He basically told them to shove it and beat them at their vote – and then took a buyout from these “club” members. They saying , ” It’s O.K. now , we’ve fixed that problem – it won’t happen any more , ” is a standard response . This was an SBC church with some “controlling” bigots at the helm .

  • Tee

    Doesn’t Christian mean Christ like? So what was so Christ like about what these “few” church members wanted?

  • Sandra Rachal

    I’m glad I got to read the whole story, but I believe the pastor should of married them at that church.

  • Nell

    P.S. The reverend was not concerned with the right thing to do to please his white members, he was part of the situation! You can’t serve God and hate his people, the two don’t mix!

  • Nell

    We are not going back in time…we never left where we were! Sadly to say in the 21st century we are still there and hated because of the color of our skin.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GargamelGold?feature=mhee CriticalDragon1177

    Please Don’t post my last comment post this one instead, since I left off the last chunk of my sentence.

    Erika,

    I think avoiding any church with the any of the feature you mentioned ought to be common sense.

  • A.D.M.

    One could ask why not get married at a black church, but I understand why the couple is confused by this.

  • Amy

    I am from the state of Mississippi and no longer reside there. Its a shame that when this state makes the news, that it is about racism. This time it involves a church, how ridiculous. This is not a church, if so, then who are they really worshipping. Well its obvious it’s not God. The two just does not go hand in hand. These people need to get their souls right. God is not worried about race, or religion. Both are a non factor. God wants your heart right. These racists need to get it together. I’m so sick of mess like this. Their the ones who are the embarrassment to us all!!!!!

  • M. Bright

    Oh, you know Jesus Christ would approve of this behavior so much. And, Saint Ayn Rand, the “Virgin of Dixie” must be flapping her celestial wings so hard right now.

  • Reynardine

    Again, the Golden Anvil to Coral Sea, and your very own Silver Demitasse Cups to all the worthy folk here. Without your electronic companionship, I would, as Aron suggested, find myself in an intellectual desert.

    No complex legal issues having been debated this week, the Sharkies are for the time being kept in reserve.

  • Reynardine

    Oh, and here are the Special Awards:

    (1). A Verdigris Swastinker to Deep Ecology, for his persistence and elaboration in greenwashing bigotry. He also gets the hydrogen bagpipe for his musical composition, “Variations on a Windbag”, and a Golden Vesuvius, for his histrionic interpretation of explosions of narcissistic rage.

    (2). The Unmentionable Award, to him whom we shall not mention. It consists solely of one (1) latex glove and a sexton’s spade.

    (3). One (1) very small leafblower to *Dr.* Zabetakis, so he can huff and puff when so inclined, without exerting himself.

    The good awards will follow in the next comment.

  • Reynardine

    Aron, this isn’t “the South”. It’s Florida, which is a curious mixture of the South, the Caribbean, and Atlantis, and I simply want to get as much of it as I can before it turns completely into the latter.

  • Supersonic250

    James Waller: What are you smoking? Because I’m pretty sure it ain’t legal…

  • majii

    I can only guess that the members of the congregation that opposed this wedding think that heaven will also be segregated. On a more serious note, these people should be ashamed of themselves. They should cease to call themselves Christians since I’ve read of no instance in the Bible where Jesus separated people according to race. The behavior of these members makes it easy to understand why some who call themselves Christians are so filled with hate for their fellow man.

  • Philip

    Perhaps we should have the Feds’ Department of Homeland Security descend upon this small church with machine guns, drones, dogs and the like and force them to cater to Blacks, Eskimos, gays, trans-gendered folks and pedophiles. That would prove that we are a ‘progressive’ society, right? After all, it’s such an outrage that a small group of people on private property somewhere would exercise freedom of association.

    Is there freedom of free association in the ‘land of the free’?

  • bill walker

    I t6hink it’s a great idea for those churches to handle rattlesnakes. There’s a good chance they’ll qualify for a ‘Darwin Award’. ( Removal from the genes pool.)

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GargamelGold?feature=mhee CriticalDragon1177

    Erika,

    I think avoiding any church with the any of the feature you mentioned.

  • http://onlyablockhead.typepad.com/blockhead/ David

    Erika’s list could be simplified as follows:

    Avoid any church.

  • Tommy Anderson

    It’s too bad this pastor didn’t stand up for this couple and for an integrated congregation. I wont judge him God will do that.
    But what is it about Mississippi and Alabama? I know that the majority of the people there are not like that. But the squeaking wheel gets the grease and seems like the racist white people who are still there are getting their way too much.

  • greg

    i think its good that this stuff is at least coming out in the open. then you have something concrete to address. as opposed to racism in canada which is a rabidly racist country, as racist and more than the us, but canada is better at being in the closet about it and getting away with it because theres no NAACP, no ACLU, so SPLC, no advocacy groups or anti-racist actions to speak of with any teeth or an organized vision or even the language to speak about racism. i challenge you to see how many news articles you can find that even name racism as a factor in policing in canada. so….the enemy you can see is far preferable to the enemy in shadows.

  • Erika

    I would like to add:

    9) avoid any church where the robes that the preacher and choir wears include matching pointed hoods

  • Erika

    I am guessing that the Wilsons are going to be seeking a new church home very soon.

    If they are, I would like to offer them the following tips:

    1) Avoid any church which has the Teabagistan rattlesnake flag or any variation sold by Patriotic Flags in its sanctuary

    2) avoid any church where handling rattlesnakes is a prominent part of the service (actually that applies regardless of your race)

    3) Avoid any church which displays the Confederate flag or any variation thereof on its property.

    4) avoid any church where the cross is on fire

    5) avoid any church where the cross is lighted to look like its on fire

    6) avoid any church which uses moonshine as the communion wine (again, this applies regardless of your race)

    7) avoid any church which has “Whites Only” written above its entrance

    8) avoid any church with a separarte “colored” seating area

  • James Waller

    Jesus is reddish-black. I have prophesied many things, and have seen them manifested, to include telling the people that great storms would come through there, prior to James Craig Anderson being killed, and because GOD is tired of racism and violence. Brass is yellow and turns black when burned. Rev. 1:15. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and sardine stone . . . Rev. 4:3. A jasper and sardine stone is reddish-black in color. And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. Gen. 25:25. There shall be great trials, tribulations, and devastation – like you have never seen; until I am heard to GOD’s satisfaction.

  • Joseph

    Aron the major cities aren’t bad. My family and I have a wonderful time in Dallas. But you wouldn’t catch me in Vidor, TX. Or any other small towns like that.

  • Joseph

    …and yes, since Obama has been in office several communities have taken more than a few steps back.

  • Allen H

    If I were a Rev. at that church, I’d marry them anyway and take my chances that they would “vote” me out. Who wants to be a reverend at a church like that to begin with? A real reverend would be more concerned with the right thing to do than just keeping his job.

  • Joseph

    “All white christians invited.” “Don’t have the facilities to accommodate other people.” “…and stuff.”

    I wonder if they will ever realize that their stupidity is only trumped by their wonderful use of the Confederate language.

  • http://Twitter.com/AronL Aron

    All I can say is thank Bob and his wonderful burgers that I’m no longer in Dixie.

    And that I’m amazed Rey has elected to remain!

  • Rekha

    OMG, are we really going back in “sad” times ???? Unbelievable and surely, Unacceptable :((