Sunday, December 4, 2011

How Does a Church Go from Banning Interracial Couples to Unanimously Welcoming All Within One Week?

You have probably heard about Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church over in Kentucky.  Last weekend, its membership voted 9-6 to ban interracial couples from church membership:
The resolution approved by the Gulnare church says it does not condone interracial marriage and "parties of such marriages will not be received as members, nor will they be used in worship services and other church functions, with the exception being funerals." Ballots were cast after the service, attended by about 35 to 40 people, but it wasn't clear why so few people voted.

The church member and former pastor who pushed for the vote, Melvin Thompson, wouldn't tell The Associated Press why he did it. "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, Thompson said earlier this week in a brief interview. "That's what this is being portrayed as, but it is not."
This weekend after lost of negative publicity, about 30 members of the church voted unanimously to welcome "believers into our fellowship regardless of race, creed or color".

The vote came up after the daughter of the church's secretary came to the church and sang with her African boyfriend.  Her father was later approached by the original resolution's drafter and told that his daughter and boyfriend would no longer be able to sing for the church.

I find it interesting that the original vote had nothing to do with racism when it strictly condemned couples marry interracially. But whatever. The church gave itself a black eye with its original vote and then attempted to remedy it with the second vote. They have lost at least two potential members (the church secretary's daughter and her boyfriend) and I'm sure they have managed to chase away many other potential members, regardless of their damage control efforts.

But I am curious about one except from this article:
Stacy Stepp, pastor of the Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church in Pike County, told The Associated Press that the vote by nine people last week was declared null and void after it was determined that new bylaws can't run contrary to local, state or national laws. He said the proposal was discriminatory, therefore it couldn't be adopted.
I am curious how true this statement is.  And if it is indeed accurate, how does this affect churches like the Roman Catholic Church that openly discriminate against potential employees based on gender (i.e., no female priests, no male nuns, etc.).  How is it illegal for one church to discriminate against allowing membership because of race and yet legal for another church to discriminate against hiring employees because of gender?  I don't know the answer to this question and would love it if someone would educate me in the comments section.

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