After all the messed up things we hear about Southern Baptist churches, one preacher finally did something loving and right — and he was punished for it!
Jonathan Greer is a preacher at Mt. Sterling Baptist Church, and claims he was fired for trying to stay true to the notion that “God loves ALL the little children.” His big crime? He invited black children to participate at the Alabama church’s Vacation Bible School (VBS).
Greer told WTOK-TV:
There was pushback about where the types of children we were bringing in, and I was asked to not invite black children to VBS.“
Greer maintains the latter part of that statement from a couple of the church’s deacons was more nuanced, like a dog whistle, but he felt the intent of the deacons was clearly to direct him not to openly invite black children. Greer says he was given several reasons why he was fired “but they were all related to negative things happening if black people started coming.”
Before Greer’s official firing, but after having conversations about race with the church’s deacons, the preacher delivered a sermon to his church on the subject of racism — and he later had to publically apologize for it. He said his message was that racism keeps people from discovering God’s grace and that Christianity is for everybody. But some members felt like Greer was treating them all as racists:
I didn’t realize that there were more people in the church … that were okay with people [of all races] coming, and in my sermon, I didn’t account for that. I kind of lumped everyone together.”
The church of course roundly denies that any of this took place and that black residents are welcome to drop in anytime during a congregation — but said nothing of VBS. Instead, they alleged that Greer was fired for “not working with the deacons and not visiting church members.” But perhaps, it’s those very deacons who wanted to exclude black children Greer refused to work with. Greer says while the church won’t stop black attendees from visiting the church, they took issue with the fact that Greer had specifically invited them. Greer says that isn’t consistent with Christian beliefs.
Greer told Al that he hopes this story going public will help the church leaders open their arms to more members of the community:
My sincere hope is that the church will open its doors to people of all races. Not in words only, but in action. Not everyone in the church feels the same way that the leadership does. I pray they can influence the church towards a more gospel-centered approach to reach their community for Jesus.”
For years I’ve been writing about churches who condone bad behavior by their church’s leaders — pedophilia, bigotry, sexism, racism, homophobia, preaching politics from the pulpit — you name it. Preachers who call for the extermination or imprisonment of gay people are never fired. Preachers who diddle kids may be relocated, some are often excused. It’s just ridiculous to think of all the infractions a person can commit, not being racist is the one that will do you in.
Featured Image via YouTube (Screen Capture)