Discrimination by a minority gave majority a black eye

Published 1:00 pm Thursday, August 2, 2012

The invitations had been mailed, and their planned wedding was just one day away — scheduled for the church they had attended together.

But while First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs welcomed Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson for Sunday services, they weren’t welcomed to get married there.

No blacks had ever been married at the predominantly white church, and some outspoken members at the Crystal Springs church wanted to keep it that way.

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Sorry. No black weddings allowed.

Though he claimed to be taken by surprise at what he claimed was the wish of a small minority of the church, First Baptist Church pastor Stan Weatherford followed the demand of the vocal minority and told the couple they should get married elsewhere.

The news was delivered just one day before the wedding.

Never mind that Te’Andrea’s uncle has worked for the church, or that the Southern Baptist Convention was recently lauded nationally for electing its first African-American leader.

Change in the form of equal rights and treatment has apparently not reached First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs.

The couple did get married. And Weatherford performed the ceremony. But, it was held at a nearby church in Crystal Springs

— the segregation-minded minority got its way. Meanwhile, the unwitting majority gets another black eye.

“I feel like it was blatant racial discrimination,” Charles Wilson told The Clarion-Ledger.

And it was.

Weatherford has suggested he moved the ceremony because he wanted to avoid “controversy,” and that he wanted the couple to have “a special day.”

That’s not how it has worked out, however.

Many church members are outraged by the church’s action

— banning the couple’s wedding because of their skin color.

They, like Weatherford, say it was due to a vocal few rather than the wishes of an entire congregation.

But that’s not the message that Weatherford delivered when he moved the ceremony to another location.

That’s why Crystal Springs Mayor Sally Garland said she is “heartbroken” by the church’s action.

“I would hate for a few people to be a reflection of our whole town because it’s not that way,” she said. “We pride ourselves on unity. We don’t want to be known for that.”

We could say the very same thing for the entire state of Mississippi.

We don’t want to be known for that.