Interracial Couples Not Welcome in Kentucky Church

Sometimes you have to wonder what century we are living in. Stella Harville, known as Suzie, grew up in Pike County, Kentucky, and attended the Gulnare Freewill Baptist church; her parents are long-time members and her father, Dean Harville, has served as church secretary and clerk. In June, Harville brought her fiancé, Ticha Chikuni — who was born in Zimbabwe and has lived in the US for 11 years — to the church and played the piano as he sang. Afterwards, the pastor, Melvin Thompson, told Dean Harville that his daughter and Chikuni could not sing at the church again. Then, this past Sunday, church members voted 9-6 not to condone interracial marriage.

It was back in 1967 that the US Supreme Court declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional. 7 percent of marriages in the US (including mine) were interracial as of 2005, says Stanford University sociologist Michael Rosenfeld.

Randy Johnson, president of the Pike County Ministerial Association, says that the vote is “not the spirit of the community in any way, shape or form.” Thompson has stepped down as pastor due to health issues but has still refused to drop the issue. Dean Harville says that a new pastor, Stacy Stepp, says that the couple can sing in the church. But in November Thompson proposed to have the church actually go on record saying that, while “all people” were welcome to worship there, interracial marriage would not be condoned and “parties of such marriages will not be received as members, nor will they be used in worship services.” Such a recommendation was not meant to “judge the salvation of anyone,” but “to promote greater unity among the church body and the community we serve.”

Stella Harville says that it has been “hurtful that some members of her church family made such a decision.” In an interview with WYKT, she said:

“It’s just a travesty, especially of Christianity, that this church feels this way. They’ve crossed the line in revoking my fiance and mine’s right to worship in a public place. It hurts even more that I have attended this church ever since I was a baby.”…

“He just has one of the kindest hearts for God and then this is happening. People who have backwards way of thinking, they should know that their racism actions should not and will not be tolerated.”

Dean Harville described the resolution as “motivated by racism” and added:

“It sure ain’t Christian. It ain’t nothing but the old devil working.”

Harville, who is pursuing a master’s degree in optical engineering, says that she does not think she’ll go back to Gulnare Freewill Baptist church, even if the recommendation is overturned. Her parents have also said that they will ask the church to change the recommendation; if Gulnare Freewill Baptist church does not, they will look for a new church.

Related Care2 Coverage

46 Percent of Mississippi Republicans Want Interracial Marriage Banned

Ann Dunham – In Praise Of Barack Obama’s Unconventional Mother

What US Immigration & Harvard Officials Had to Say About Obama’s Father



Photo by Boyznberry


marc horton
marc horton5 years ago

what a shame for this couple...why don't they go have a real wedding union witnessed by their real friends and family without all the garbage people and garbage churches

Geynell Eskite
Geynell Eskite6 years ago

Let's all chip in and buy Pastor Thompson a calender. He is clearly unaware of what year it is. Or for that matter, what century. This couple (and their families) need to dump "The Church of The Divine Bigotry". I didn't know that idiocy was a religion.

Silja Salonen
silja s6 years ago

what is happening in kentucky

Mary Stahlheber
Mary Stahlheber6 years ago

Its not religion that's wrong it just some people can't seem to change their ways of thinking.

Lika S.
Lika P6 years ago

Such bigots. They aren't Christian, they're pigs. For being bigotted, they shouldn't be able to be a church.

What would Jesus do? Accept this nice young couple with open arms! They can come to my church anytime, and be welcome. We like internationalism. The fact that we would get to learn how other cultures celebrate their faith, we would be richer in the process.

Sarah Metcalf
Sarah M6 years ago

WTF?! That's religion for you.

Marisol F.
Marisol F6 years ago

Thank you, Laurita

Laurita Walters
Laurita Walters6 years ago

Stupid church, stupid people. Who would pray to a racist god? NOT ME!

Thank you, Marisol. I have always called myself "color blind" and you show me I am wrong -- I do see a lovely rainbow, and I approve and cherish all the colors and blends. I just used the wrong term -- happily corrected!

Marisol F.
Marisol F6 years ago

I am a Puerto Rican who's mixed with Spanish, African, Native American and Italian. Instead of promoting tolerance, we should be promoting acceptance. To tolerate is to " put up with". I want to be accepted, not just tolerated.

To be color blind is to say that my color doesn't matter. It does to me. Rather than being color blind we should be appreciative of our colors.

I am multicultural and trilingual, and I'm proud of all aspects of my being. If we all accepted and appreciated our differences, the world would be a more harmonious place. We actually are more alike than we are different. What we do to others, we essentially do to ourselves. I learned that from Molecular Science and from Buddhism.

Lucy H.
Lucy E6 years ago

I have to go with HL Chris C on this one. It isn't Christian. It is backwards racism. But it does bring up the separation of church and state. At this point. they are only saying that interracial couples cannot be members of their church. They are not advocating anything else. It should be up to the church who can be a member and who can not.

However - if the church receives any government or state funding of any kind, it should be ended immediately for the same reason - separation of church and state. Furthermore, any member or members who do not agree should be encouraged and supported to remove themselves and all support from the church to find or to create a new, welcoming congregation. If these steps are followed, then I think you will find that the congregation will shrink to the irrelevance of Fred Phelps and his followers.

I also feel that if they start advocating that their law become state law, their tax exempt status should be revoked. They will then have stopped being a faith and become a political organization.