Pastor Reverend Robert Wright Lee IV, a descendant of Confederate Civil War General Robert E. Lee, resigned from the Bethany United Church of Christ after an appearance on the MTV Video Music Awards. His church placed him on notice for making a racial justice statement.
What did this good pastor do that raised the ire of a sect within his congregation even as his words is one the Church must make if it stands with Jesus? The pastor said the following on the MTV awards show.
“My name is Robert Lee IV, I’m a descendant of Robert E. Lee, the Civil War general whose statue was at the center of violence in Charlottesville. We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy, racism, and hate. As a pastor, it is my moral duty to speak out against racism, America’s original sin.
Today, I call on all of us with privilege and power to answer God’s call to confront racism and white supremacy head-on. We can find inspiration in the Black Lives Matter movement, the women who marched in the Women’s March in January, and, especially, Heather Heyer, who died fighting for her beliefs in Charlottesville.”
Pastor Lee wrote an op-ed in AuburnSeminary.org in which he said the following.
— MTV (@MTV) August 28, 2017
My presence at the church as a descendent of Robert E. Lee and an outspoken opponent of White Supremacy had already attracted attention, but with my appearance on MTV the media’s focus on my church reached an all time high. A faction of church members were concerned about my speech and that I lifted up Black Lives Matter movement, the Women’ s March, and Heather Heyer as examples of racial justice work.
I want to stress that there were many in the congregation who supported my right to free speech, yet were uncomfortable with the attention the church was receiving. The church’s reaction was deeply hurtful to me.
I want it to be clear that I feel a deep love for this congregation, and gratitude that they were willing to hire me as my first church out of seminary. I believe with all my heart that God did good work in my life there. That being said, when the church wanted to vote on my tenure, I tendered my resignation
The pastor wrote the following in his resignation.
“I regret that speaking out has caused concern and pain to my church. For this is I offer my heartfelt apology. I understand that my views could be considered to be controversial. I never sought this sort of attention. But, I do believe in God’s role in calling out for positive social change for the good of all.
We are all called by God to speak out against hate and evil in all its many forms. There are so many good things going on with this congregation and I do not want my fight to detract from the mission. If the recent media attention causes concern with my church, I reluctantly offer my resignation.”
It should give Evangelical Christians pause when a pastor cannot hold onto his church because he stands for the principles of Jesus Christ. The Evangelical Church is so intertwined with a deranged form of politics that it has indoctrinated its followers into making evil doings vogue.
The following comments on the pastor in the Winston-Salem Journal indicate the degree of hate afforded the pastors from those who purport to be Christian is probative.
This comment is shocking.
Sandy Johnson: I was born and raised in Statesville….and all I have to say is…..there is no way you are a christian! You can not call people horrible names! It seems anybody that wants to protect our country is a racist, or white supremacist. Have you ever really looked at those who believe in God and Country? There are plenty of brown, black, white, and a mixture of all the above that are on the side of good. You were not in Charlottesville, and you don’t know what happened there. We know one man drove a car into a crowd, and killed a woman. ONE MAN! We have seen the people that you are speaking up for…and they are violent, miserable people. They attack innocent children who’s only crime is attending a Trump rally. They call for the death of white children, of Trump, and anyone that dares to have a different opinion than their own. It’s a sin to use your postition to name-call and judge. I’ll take Rev. Franklin Graham’s observation of these situations over yours every day of the week! How long do you think they had to look to find a Robert Lee that identifies with the Antifa, is a minister (LOL, you have 12 member of your church) and is as dumb as you are? The chance that you are related to Robert E Lee is about as remote as me being related to Lyndon Johnson!
And this condescending one says much about the psyche of these people.
Janis Moore : You sir are not a Christian pastor. Instead of appearing on television maybe you should spend some time ministering in the community around the church where you are “pastor.” Last week an individual drove down Bethany Church Road and shot at folks standing in a front yard. You have how many faithful members? Maybe if you spent more time around the church that number would increase.
One hopes Pastor Lee keeps on his journey. In the long run he will win. He is a millennial and we need those in the clergy speaking out as well.
Also published on Medium.