The First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, Mississippi has never hosted the wedding of a black couple in its 150 year history, so you can imagine how important it was to the congregation not to break a perfect record. All right, that’s unfair: only a handful of white church members protested to Rev. Stan Weatherford when they learned that he was preparing to wed Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson at First Baptist, but their threat that they would have him voted out of his job if he did was sufficient to cause him to tell Charles and Te’Andrea, just two days before the scheduled ceremony, that they would have to move the event to another church.
“I didn’t want to have a controversy within the church, and I didn’t want a controversy to affect the wedding of Charles and Te’Andrea. I wanted to make sure their wedding day was a special day,” Weatherford told local reporters.
No, Reverend, that’s not accurate. You didn’t have the integrity, principles or courage to do the right thing, to tell the six racist protesters that the marriage would go on at the church as promised, that they were welcome to do their worst, and that you would respond by making them and anyone who supported them national pariahs. You chose the easy path of allying yourself with wrongdoers in the interests of avoiding “controversy”, which is just a euphemism for “I don’t care enough about choosing right over wrong to fight for it.” For the leader of a religious institution, indeed for any leader, of any institution,this is a betrayal of core principles. You chose to side with racists against church members who had entrusted you with overseeing what should have been one of the happiest days if their lives. For an American, this is a betrayal of core principles. Weatherford didn’t decide to be neutral in an argument over where to hold the church social, or who should direct the Christmas pageant, He stayed neutral when human rights, fairness and dignity were at stake, and that means that he knowingly and voluntarily assisted in the perpetrating of evil.
The quote is so familiar that it has become a cliché, but Edmund Burke’s words are seldom more relevant than in situations like the cowardice of Rev. Weatherford: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
In a situation like this one, I wonder if it is even appropriate to call someone who sides with racists against a loving couple wanting nothing more than to be married in their own church “good.”
Pointer: CNN Morning
Facts: USA Today
Graphic: Jan’s World
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