Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church in Kentucky Bans Interracial Couples
Every now and again a story comes along that demonstrates just how far we’ve still got to go before we exorcise the centuries-old demons of racism in America…
A small church in rural Kentucky has voted to ban interracial couples, prohibiting them from becoming members or taking part in worship activities and church functions.
Kentucky.com reports that the Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church in Pike County made the shocking decision to ban mixed couples after Stella Harville, a 24-year-old masters degree student who grew up in the church and was baptized there, brought her Zimbabwean fiancée Ticha Chikuni to a Sunday service at the church. She played piano, he sang a hymn.
That did not go down well with then-pastor Melvin Thompson. He informed the couple that they would no longer be allowed to perform in the church. Stacy Stepp, who replaced Thompson after he stepped down due to health problems in August, told them they were welcome to sing at the church.
But earlier this month, Thompson proposed that church members officially declare that Gulnare Freewill Baptist does not condone interracial marriage and that “parties of such marriages will not be received as members, nor will they be used in worship services” or other functions, except for funerals.
Incredibly, members decided to vote on the proposal. It passed, with nine people voting for it and six voting against. Other members abstained from casting votes.
“It’s not the spirit of the community in any way, shape or form,” Randy Johnson, president of the Pike County Ministerial Association, told Kentucky.com. Stella Harville’s father, Dean Harville, a longtime member and secretary and clerk for the church, agreed. “It sure ain’t Christian. It ain’t nothing but the old devil working,” he told Kentucky.com.
As for Stella, she told Kentucky.com that she is hurt by the church’s vote. “They’re the people who are supposed to comfort me in times like these,” she lamented. “I don’t think I’ll be able to go back there,” she said.
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