If you want to see a conversation get really awkward, strike up a conversation amongst a group of people of different races and start your conversation with the words “Blacks and Whites shouldn’t worship together.”
After the immediate shock that follows your statement, you will then hear the many explanations from the various people, some explaining why there should be no racism in religion and how the concept of worship and fellowship alone defines unity and not separation.
After a few faces have turned beet red, a few throats have been cleared and a few people may have excused themselves from the group, you will then hear a few people speak up on what they believe to be the sound, logical belief that there is no place for interracial mixing within the church setting. These thoughts will be backed up with comments that generally start off with the statement that the person is in no way racist…after all….they have black/white friends and they make small talk with people of other races at work all of the time, BUT going to church together just isn’t acceptable because that’s just the way it has always been and frankly the way it should remain.
This is possibly what took place at Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church in Pike County, Kentucky back when they voted to not allow an interracial couple to attend church services at Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church. The church voted in late November that interracial couples would not be allowed to join the church or participate in church services.
This rule was set into place after the daughter of the church’s secretary returned home for the summer and brought along with her, her boyfriend. The problem with this visit was that the young lady was white and her boyfriend was from Africa. The church’s pastor along with some of the members then decided to have a meeting in which members would vote on whether or not interracial couples would be allowed to be members at Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church. After the votes were cast and counted, the decision was made that interracial couples would not be allowed to become members, sing in the choir or participate in any church services. This rule basically meant that interracial couples were not welcome at Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church.
Melvin Thompson, the pastor who initiated the meeting and vote stated “I am not racist. I will tell you that. “I am not prejudiced against any race of people, have never in my lifetime spoke evil about a race.”
Maybe Melvin Thompson feels that discriminating against interracial relationships is not racist but instead a church preference or maybe somehow he has validated his belief that not allowing a person to worship with you because they are involved in an interracial relationship has some kind of biblical foundation.
Whatever the reasoning, the act of not allowing a person to attend church, participate in church services or become a member because of race is as racist as it gets. To proclaim to be a follower of Christ, yet shun a person because of their race is in no way biblical and is as far from Christ-like as you can get.
The vote to ban interracial couples from church privileges at Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church has since been overturned, but the fact that such foolishness was even brought up for vote in the first places speaks volumes on the thoughts of some people in this rural Kentucky town.
But let’s be honest, how many racially mixed churches do you know of? Of course we have the big mega churches that attract members of different races and social classes, but overall, just how many people of different races are okay with worshipping together? At the church you attend, when you look around don’t most of the faces sitting in the pews resemble yours? Aren’t they what you consider your sisters, brothers, prayer partners…don’t they look like you? What would happen if a few new members joined one Sunday and they were of another race? Sure you may not make a big deal of it, but if your church is predominately filled with one race, you will take a second look at these new members and you will ask yourself “Where did he/she come from?” “I wonder why they chose this church?” You may not be bothered by their race, but you may give it a second thought, when on the other hand if it were someone of your race that joined you would, or should just rejoice that another soul has been saved.
It is indeed horrible that situations like this still arise at this day in age and it is shameful that people who proclaim to believers and followers of the same God are such hypocrites that they can accept the portion of their religion that stresses love for one another yet overlook the very day-to-day practices of this love.
It may be surprising to some that religion, worship and fellowship are still very much divided by racial lines, but when was it ever any different? When exactly did this imaginary church integration take place?
.…..I must have missed it….