North Carolina has been the center of political turmoil all summer. The Right Wing takeover of their state houses has passed draconian voter ID laws, and draconian laws against women's rights have been at the forefront. Their citizens have organically risen up with the effecting of Moral Mondays.
Sadly, it seems like all the damage to citizens is not inflicted by politicians taking away their freedom and humanity. Some of it is from within communities least expected. No one in their right mind would believe this story. It baffles the mind.
WBTV reports that a viewer and member of Freedom House, Carmen Thomas, contacted them after she got an email from her pastor, Pastor Makeda Pennycooke. Ms. Thomas has been a member of the church for more than two years and became a member because of its diversity. The pastor sent the email to the church members who act as greeters for the 9:00 AM service. The email asked that only white people stand at the front door to greet the congregation.
According to Ms. Thomas the pastor reminded the volunteers that fall is one of their busiest times of the year, first impressions matters, and that the church wanted the best of the best on the front doors. She also said that the church was continuing to work to bring the racial demographic pendulum of the church back to the mid-line. To accomplish that the pastor said that she asked that only white people be on the front doors.
In the email the pastor said that she acknowledges that the request was a sensitive situation but quality trumps quantity. She also said she would rather have less greeters on the front door if it means those at the door would represent the church’s best.
WBTV contacted the church and a spokeswoman acknowledged the veracity of the email. She said the email was sent to ensure the greeting team reflected the racial diversity of the church. She said it was a mistake to over emphasize any specific group. An apology was sent out within 24 hours.
Ms. Thomas said that she does not believe race was the only issue. She believes it had to do with the church’s bottom line. She believes that since black people in the congregation are not the “moneymakers”, the pastor was trying to attract a more affluent membership, a whiter membership. Ms. Thomas correctly states that the method the pastor was attempting to use was deceptive. In her words, “You don’t like put icing on a chocolate cake and think you are eating vanilla.”
Ms. Thomas said she spoke up because of her young daughter. She does not want to leave the earth knowing she did not do her part to leave an even platform for her child.
The saddest part of this story is that the racist pastor is black. What this story vividly illustrates is the complexities of racism, self-hate, the power of money, and responsible bravery.
A black pastor telling the black portion of the congregation they were not good enough to be at the front door and that the best of the best in their church was defined by the color white is racist. That the pastor believed that and articulated it expresses a self-hate that would have her not identify herself as being black as well. After-all, if color is an issue with prospective members; would they not leave the church when they realize they are led by a black pastor?
The power of money blinded the pastor from the mental anguish and damage her words inflicted on those receiving the email, black, white, or other. Shouldn’t a pastor who councils the damaged soul be cognizant of that? Thankfully Ms. Thomas displayed the necessary bravery to speak up. Many in church environments are so subservient to the church hierarchy so much so that these types of attacks go unchallenged. It is for this reason the pastor likely believed she could be as blunt, direct, and dismissive.
Interesting enough though, the pastor is likely correct that her front door policy would have attracted more affluent white visitors. Maybe she had the talent once in the church to have them stay. She would have done much less psychological damage if she was just honest. She could have said that the church wanted to attract more affluent members to help with the church finances. She could have said that the reality is that while all people are equal in the eyes of the Lord, for the sake of comfort for some affluent white people she wanted to have white faces at the door. She could then state that she would ensure that equality and atonement was preached. Most minorities in America are well aware of this “concept”. The problem is that this pastor told the minority portion of her congregation that they were simply not as good, not the best of the best. The color of their skin to that pastor made it so.