Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

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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50 Comments

  1. Joe PoquetteDecember 1, 2011 at 5:08 amReply

    They’re too busy marryimg their sisters
    and screwin’ their brothers.Row fater, I think I hear banjos!!!!!!!!!

    • Brett WilkinsDecember 1, 2011 at 8:24 amReplyAuthor

      Are “hillbillies” and overweight people the only Americans it is still “acceptable” to poke fun at? By making incest jokes, we’re no better than the church that’s banned interracial couples.

      • Kevin McGuireDecember 1, 2011 at 8:40 amReply

        Whatever. Ignorant, inbred hillbillies who ban interacial couples from their church deserve all the incest jokes they get.

    • Greg MuncyDecember 2, 2011 at 5:22 amReply

      In all fairness,(to all of you who do not know where or what this place is all about) This community is 99.9% white, its the history of Pike County that dictates this. It is too hilly to farm, so it was not a good place for agriculture. It was settled by hunters and trappers, so the need for slaves was a non issue, in short there are not a lot of blacks in eastern Ky. It took till the end of 2011 for a race issue to finally come up in this area. The officials in the church acted in the best way they knew how. so when you read articles about the all white church not letting black people in, its because there aren’t any black people that live in that area.

      • Brett WilkinsDecember 2, 2011 at 11:19 amReplyAuthor

        … and that makes it okay?

        • KangDecember 2, 2011 at 12:08 pmReply

          Wow! Really? Greg Muncy, really?

      • paulDecember 3, 2011 at 4:07 amReply

        well I dont care if it 100% white or black in the bible it does not say only the white or only the black people are allowed in to heaven we are all GODs children . in the bible it says :
        to whom, then can we compare GOD? what image mighe we find to resemble him ISAIAH 40:18 I dont know about you but I didn’t see anything about color in there .

      • SNOBAEDecember 3, 2011 at 6:46 amReply

        JUST BECAUSE THERE ARE FEW BLACK PEOPLE LIVING IN THE AREA DOES THAT MAKE IT RIGHT TO BE PREJUDICE. ANY CHURCH THAT BANS ANYONE WANTING TO ATTEND IS GOING TO LOSE MORE THAN IT WILL GAIN.
        SHAME ON THEM!!!!!!!!!

      • CarolineDecember 3, 2011 at 1:14 pmReply

        Racism is racism regardless of location. In a church where God created All Man kind, it does not belong! Shame on the people, pastor and covenants of this non Christ- like church!

      • PeterDecember 3, 2011 at 4:26 pmReply

        Now, if white people went to a continent like Africa where white people look alien, does that give those black folks the right to ban interracial marriage? Racism is alive in this country however you look at it.

  2. Lum Michael PattersonDecember 1, 2011 at 7:55 amReply

    I must agree with the right of the members of Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church to refuse to allow inter-racial couples to join in their fellowship. We all have a right to express our belief. Here’s mine, if the members or this church are true believers, come Sunday morning only 9 people will show up for the meeting.

    • JeffDecember 1, 2011 at 10:10 amReply

      I hope there is a major backlash against these 9 people so that they reconsider their sectarian and exclusivist view.

    • mark aDecember 1, 2011 at 3:20 pmReply

      Mr. Patterson, don’t you know that the bible says ‘all men are created equal’ and Peter said “I perceive for a certainty that in every nation, the man that works righteousness is acceptable to God”. Mr. Patterson….there is no allowance, per the Bible (God’s word) for anyone “to express their belief”!! Your belief doesn’t correspond to God teaching for true Christians. Remember Jesus parable of the good Samaritan? A man that was of a different nationality than the Jews. The Jews hated Samaritans. Jesus taught in his parable that God’s people should treat everyone as a “NEIGHBOR”. If you have a “right to express your beliefs”…….please don’t claim to be a Christian.

      • Lum Michael PattersonDecember 1, 2011 at 4:37 pmReply

        Mark A, it you were to take the time to re-read my statement with some thought, you would realize I was refering to their rights as Americans and in fact indicated that they were not true Christians for their condemnation of their fellow man. And yes I am a Christian.

      • Janice NicholsDecember 3, 2011 at 2:07 pmReply

        Why don’t “God” people live by the whole Bible. It’s what we are going to judged by. THE WORD.Please Read James Chap. 2:1;4 Also do alittle studing about about what happened to Mariam when she spoke against Moses. God sent His Son to die, ressurect and asend for everyone not just a certain few. Thank God He is no respect of person, just sin. I am a born again Christian and I stand on the WHOLE word. You can’t pick and seperate the attending crurch. If They are unsaved then by all means, LET Jesus save them, because we surely can not…we are but mere flesh.

    • steveDecember 1, 2011 at 6:12 pmReply

      Now why don’t we just have a lynching while we are at it ………….. i hope the sarcasm comes on strong here , this is such a disgrace to anyone claiming to be a Christian. Backwards and definately not of the will of God . I’d be willing to bet that if they all did a little research they all would have to ban themselves . There is not a soul alive in the world that is not inter-racial or mixed. I pray that the day will come when the mixture will be so much that no one will know what color their children would be . Now you know also why this church has only 40 members . Now this is prejudice to the extreme , beware oh the church that excludes any person of color , I truly believe that God has a special place cut out in hell for those kinds of idiots

    • LS686December 1, 2011 at 11:03 pmReply

      Although we all have the right to our opinions, we don’t have the right to discriminate. I am white & Baptist, my husband is black & Baptist, my father-in-law is a Baptist pastor & my bi-racial children are Baptist too. This brings a shower of negativity on a religious denomination that overall is Bible believing. Jesus did not tell us to love our neighbors as long as they are the same race! He said to Love Him first and to love your neighbors as yourself. These folks obviously need to stop looking at others and start looking in the mirror. It is disgusting and embarrassing.

    • CarolineDecember 3, 2011 at 1:18 pmReply

      True believers in what? Non Christ like attitudes? Evil racist drool is still evil. Believers in non Christian morals yes, they are that.

  3. RodDecember 1, 2011 at 8:04 amReply

    You want to truly understand why society and politics is so divisive, negative and extreme? Just take one look at these small pockets of continuing ignorance and backwardness and you have the largest percentage of the answer. And you know what I have always noticed? That ‘religion’ is usually at front and center of the problem. How pathetic!

    • CarolDecember 1, 2011 at 7:19 pmReply

      Rod, WELL SAID!! I absolutely agree with you.

  4. glyndiaDecember 1, 2011 at 8:08 amReply

    God Bless your small congregation I pray for each of you who learns from a fickle vine God wont hold you responsible for what a pastor teaches you In the name of jesus…YOur sin can be forgiven how ever the bible says if you lead gods children astray you will be held accountable preacher….In the name of JESUS Ill pray for you and all the poor folks who support you and your building fund…..Rebuke satan now clear your house of clutter ….

    • Paul BensonDecember 1, 2011 at 2:47 pmReply

      What a perfect comment from you. thank you and god bless. Jesus died for our sins so that we could have eternal life. Jesus asked us to go out and bring salvation to those that aren’t saved. jesus loves us all. black,whit,red,etc. Praise God. may we all worship together.

  5. KimberlyDecember 1, 2011 at 10:12 amReply

    This is no surprise since christians were the main leaders in slavery. They have just revealed their true feelings toward black people. Thats all! Now we know.

    • MichelleDecember 1, 2011 at 4:22 pmReply

      Kimberly, you can’t attribute the faults of a few so-called Christians to the entire faith. The vast majority of Christians, like myself, would never agree to this act of racism. It’s always a few who give a bad name to the rest.

    • LS686December 1, 2011 at 11:11 pmReply

      Wow! Somebody needs a history lesson! You sound like you are about as judgmental as the people that voted these poor folks out! As far as how Christians feel towards black people- I am a white Christian MARRIED to a Black Christian. My Black in-laws are Christians. FYI I grew up in a racist non-Christian white home! You can not blame an entire group of people for the actions of a few! That is what is wrong with so many people today- white and black. Get over the racist crap and move on!

  6. NhiraDecember 1, 2011 at 12:12 pmReply

    The pastor and members who voted for no interracial marriages should repent of segregation. We wonder which kind of God they are serving. This kind of behavior is a disgrace to the world at large. I am Zimbabwean and married to my wife from Zimbabwe till death. The young men and women who came before being married should marry whoever loves them as long as they are all genuinely in love. The world is a global village now, folks.
    We wonder how free this Freewill Baptist Church is.

  7. angelaDecember 1, 2011 at 2:07 pmReply

    Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable

    December 1, 2011
    for Immediate Release
    Contact: Earl Ofari Hutchinson
    323-383-6145

    Press Advisory:

    Civil Rights Leaders Call on IRS to Revoke Tax Exemption for Kentucky Church that Bans Interracial Couples

    Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable President Earl Ofari Hutchinson and other civil rights leaders on Thursday, December 1 called on the Internal Revenue Service to revoke the tax exemption for the Gulnare Free Will Baptist church in Pike County, Kentucky. The church formally voted to bar interracial couples. This clearly violates the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1983 in the case of Bob Jones University that the IRS can deny tax exemption to any organization including religious institutions that sanction racial discrimination. The ruling firmly established that churches have no legal right to discriminate at taxpayer expense. The revocation of the church’s tax exemption will be a powerful reminder to religious institutions that discrimination will not be paid for by the taxpayers.

    “The Gulnare Free Will Baptist churches action barring interracial couples is a shameful and disgraceful insult to the nation, “says Hutchinson,” “By revoking the tax exempt status of this church, the IRS and the nation will send a strong message that bigotry in any form will not be tolerated by the taxpayers, especially bigotry in the name of God and religion.”

    The Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour
    on
    KTYM Radio 1460 AM Los Angeles
    Fridays 9:30 to 10:00 AM PST
    Saturdays 7:00 to 7:30 PM PST
    Streamed on http://www.ktym.com
    KPFK Radio Los Angeles 90.7 FM
    Saturdays Noon to 1:00 PM PST
    Streamed on http://www.kpfk.org/programs/181-hutchinson-report.html
    http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson

    • Brett WilkinsDecember 1, 2011 at 2:32 pmReplyAuthor

      Bravo, Mr. Hutchinson and the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable!

  8. MattDecember 1, 2011 at 2:39 pmReply

    I thought it was all about spreading the word of god. This is a disgrace and I am completely behind Mr. Hutchinson.
    As a mission leader, it is very sad to see this play out this way.

  9. Jose RosalesDecember 1, 2011 at 4:03 pmReply

    I cannot believe the people at that church are really that ignorant, what the hell is in their head, why cant they get over that whole black and white crap and look at the grey where the rest of the population live, plus in less than a century whites will be a minority and what will they do when THEY get persecuted and harrased

  10. Trisha JonesDecember 1, 2011 at 4:36 pmReply

    Since this church claims to follow the Bible – they should realize that the wife of Moses was a black woman – see Numbers 12:1 – “an Ethiopian woman”

    • Brett WilkinsDecember 1, 2011 at 4:38 pmReplyAuthor

      Wow… didn’t know that!

  11. ellen sharkeyDecember 1, 2011 at 4:39 pmReply

    READ the name of the baptist church……FREEWILL!!!! NOt!

    • CarolDecember 1, 2011 at 7:27 pmReply

      Ellen, I immediately realized the HIPPOCRISY and LIE of the name “Free Will”. After the vote to ban interracial couples,they should have voted on eliminating the words “Free Will”!!!!!

  12. Jill JacksonDecember 1, 2011 at 5:27 pmReply

    I couldn’t believe this is still going on in the United States. But I’m not surprised these are red necks!

    Rev. Jill

  13. MikeDecember 1, 2011 at 7:36 pmReply

    Some folks wonder why non-Christians have not open their heart to religion. With all of the wars over religion and then acts such as this church, followed up by challenging each other in this blog with “who’s comment represent a real Christian vs. American”. I think I will take my chances on no church and no inputs from Christians. Too many preachers stealing money from memberships and false guidance. You can not separate religion from Americans rights. That is the foundation of American’s birth. The best statement is “only 9 folks will show up on Sunday”. I don’t want them to be se labeled as rednecks or hillbillies. They are Americans. I am an African American veterans with 30 years of Naval Service. This church actually want folks to spread this type of doctrine as religion. What should I tell my previous Sailors about this stance on religion. If these folks get into, then I am a shoe-in. For the non-voting members, you are just as guilty as the “Dangerous 9”. I thought religion gave folks strength. I stand corrected. Now I know why the devil is so strong.

  14. Linda HensonDecember 1, 2011 at 9:29 pmReply

    I am a Christian and I believe in the love of God. I know that God looks at the inside of each and everyone of us. He made us all different for a reason, he loves colors; look at the beautiful flowers and trees. Look at the leaves on the trees as they change colors!
    How can you profess to believe in God and not accept a person of another color? Look in the Bible, there is NOTHING that states otherwise–NOTHING!! God is Love!! that is it!! Love is love, and if two people love each other and are good to each other, what more can a person ask for? Just that they put God first in their marriage–SETTLED!! Thank you very much. Linda Henson

  15. DarrellDecember 2, 2011 at 6:03 amReply

    Actually God bans interracial marriages in His Word. Anyone that does not understand the Holy Word of Yahweh can’t understand His Holy Laws. I praise Him that there are still some preachers that teach His Laws as He plainly wants. Read Nehemiah, Exodus and Ezra it is plainly written there and in other Books.

    • VenusDecember 2, 2011 at 1:14 pmReply

      The reason God did not want the Israelites to inter-marry was so that they would not be persuaded to worship other gods and participate in the detestable practices of the “foreigners”, such as sacrificing their children to these gods.

      • DarrellDecember 5, 2011 at 7:21 amReply

        In some Scriotures it does seem like it says just that. But if you keep reading it says that inter-racial marriages is an abomination to Him, PERIOD.Read Nehemiah 13:23-30.

  16. RICHELLEDecember 2, 2011 at 8:22 amReply

    WOW I THOUGHT THAT GOD DOES NOT SEE COLORS. I CAN NOT BELIEVE IN THIS DAY AND AGE THAT PEOPLE CAN NOT GO INTO A CHURCH AND WORSHIP WITH OUT BEING JUDGED. THIS IS DISCRIMINATION AND I HOPE THIS COUPLE DOES NOT STOP WITH THE JUSTICE THEY DESERVE. I AM SO PISSED OFF RIGHT NOW. I WILL BE HAPPY TO PROTEST AND HELP THIS COUPLE. GET A GRIP PEOPLE WE ARE GOING TO CHURCH TO WORSHIP GOD….. I HOPE THESE PEOPLE GET WHAT THEY DESERVE KARMA IS A B—- AND WHAT COMES AROUND GOES AROUND AND WHEN THEY ARE IN FRONT OF GOD AT JUDGMENT DAY IS WHEN HE WILL NOT BE HAPPY. IF THEY GET OUT OF THE LITTLE TOWN THEY ARE IN AND LOOK AROUND THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES AROUND. GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR A– AND LETS ALL GET ALONG. GOD MADE EVERYONE NOT JUST WHITE PEOPLE. AND FYI I AM WHITE AND MY HUSBAND IS BLACK 🙂

  17. RICHELLEDecember 2, 2011 at 8:35 amReply

    OH SORRY I FORGOT SOMETHING I BET WHEN SHE WAS GETTING OUT HER MONEY THE CHURCH TOOK IT AND WHO IS TO SAY SHE MAY HAVE GOTTEN THE MONEY FROM HER BLACK FIANCE WOW I AM SO UPSET ABOUT THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MONEY IS GREEN AND IT COMES FROM ALL WALK OF LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. PaulineDecember 2, 2011 at 9:58 amReply

    This is not the Body of Christ(Church).
    God is Love! He created everything and everyone.And loves everybody unconditionally.We are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ unconditionally.
    Get out of them ,before it’s too late.They are not the Chuch.And they sure aren’t Christians.

  19. PaulineDecember 2, 2011 at 10:05 amReply

    A Christian is not a religion.It is a relationship with Christ.And they don’t have a relationship with Christ.

  20. Randy PhillipsDecember 2, 2011 at 2:31 pmReply

    What would Christ think? In reading his teachings over the years, this 56 year old gut doubts he would side with the church

  21. Randy PhillipsDecember 2, 2011 at 2:34 pmReply

    What would Christ think? As a person who’s read his teachings, I don’t think he would side with the Church. Judge not!

  22. tennisDecember 2, 2011 at 3:32 pmReply

    It is ridiculous that we live in the 21st century and these acts of discrimination still occur. Let them live in peace! This country allows us to have the freedom of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and I don’t find that prevalent in that situation!

  23. Pastor Barry D. EplinDecember 2, 2011 at 5:41 pmReply

    I am a Pastor of a Freewill Baptist Church ,here in Charleston, West Virginia. I am appalled at the action of this church and the members who voted to disallow inter-racial couples to be involved in worship service, or have a position in the church. Salvation is not based on color. It is based on ones need for their soul to be free of sin and forgiven of their sins, upon the accepting of jesus as their Savior. Come to Charleston, West Virginia, at South Ruffner Freewill Baptist Church and worship and praise the Lord with us. All are welcome.

  24. LoriMarch 20, 2012 at 1:51 pmReply

    In the eyes of The Lord there is no black and white, they are people, a couple and should be treated as such, not an interracial couple. This church is passing judgement and thats not their right.

  25. BLMDecember 24, 2012 at 8:57 amReply

    They need to remove”freewill” from their church title. They should also remove the word “church” because this not appropriate behaviour for the Body of Christ. They give a horrible name and slander to real Christians.

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