- Jordan Palmer, President
- Joshua Koch, Vice President of Policy and Public Relations
- Will Taylor, Southeastern Kentucky Regional Director
- Minister Edith Baker, Ph.D.
Harlan, KY – The legend surrounding the supposed repeal of the interracial marriage ban at Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church far exceeds the reality of the situation. Regardless of the position of any church, marriage (for legal purposes) is a contract between two people and the Commonwealth; only the Commonwealth can make it legal or dissolve it.
The supposed recent repeal of the ban is not a repeal at all. Rather, it is a judgment from a denominational church body outside the confines of the offending church. The supposed repentance of the moment is no more than a statement of opinion on Robert’s Rules of Order by the Sandy Valley Conference of Free Will Baptists.
While we would gladly applaud true repentance and reconciliation in this situation, we are candid enough to realize that this statement is not that. This is merely a procedural public relations move to deflect attention from the overt racism exhibited at Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church, which has drawn unpleasant national attention to the church.
The situation in Pike County is an embarrassment to the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky and we can only imagine what Stella Harville’s finance, Ticha Chikuni, originally from the Republic of Zimbabwe in Africa thinks of Kentucky now. From wars, the burning of witches, torture of heretics, the treatment of women, interracial discrimination, and same-sex discrimination, churches been the source of discrimination from the very beginning.
Robert’s Rules of Order can be handy in maintaining parliamentary procedure; however, banning a member of the church from full participation because she is engaged to a man of African ethnicity transcends the bounds of Robert’s Rules, offending, instead, the laws of human decency and faith. Why must a church appeal to a parliamentary procedural standard to justify revoking such a decision, when the tenets of its own faith condemn racism? The Bible, which explicitly condemns racist discrimination, should be a more relevant standard in such a reversal, and it would be if this were a truly repentant congregation.
True repentance includes acknowledging a sin for what it is and turning from it. Acknowledging a sin means admitting that the action was wrong according to a rigid standard, not merely contrary to parliamentary procedure. This has not been done by the church, as of the time of this statement. Driving someone away from those they know and love because of their choice to build a life with someone of another race is just plain wrong, regardless of whether its manner of adoption pleases parliamentarians or not.
This is yet another issue that churches use to remain segregated, just as most also refuse to perform same-sex ceremonies.
We encourage Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church to take responsibility, reach out to the offended couple, and build a true bond of openness and acceptance with all citizens.
The damage to the name of the Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church is now tarnished because the vote to ban marriages on interracial couples should never have occurred to begin with.
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NOTE: Kentucky Equality Federation is a member of "ILGA," the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, a non-government observer at the United Nations with consultive status. ILGA is the world's largest and oldest Federation with more than 800 affiliates worldwide. ILGA continues to be active in campaigning for LGBTI rights on the international human rights and civil rights scene and regularly petitions the United Nations and governments. ILGA is represented in around 110 countries across the world.