There's nothing "Christian" about discrimination and residents of Winfield, Alabama, who are outraged over a pastors' conference that is designed for white people only, agree. Critics are charging that the event is racist in nature, as organizers and conference attendees vocally defend their choice to exclude anyone with a different skin tone.
The Rev. William Collier, the apparent organizer, doubled down on the "whites only" event, saying, according to WBRC-TV, "We don't have the facilities to accommodate other people." But his commentary went well beyond that.
"We haven't got any invitations to black Muslim events. Of course, we are not invited to Jewish events and stuff," he added.
Collier also said that he and his followers believe that whites are "God's chosen people." While he denies that racism is at the heart of the event, he admits that some members and attendees are Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members (but membership in the Klan isn't a requirement).
Naturally, his group, Christian Identity Ministries, is drawing the ire of protesters -- among them, mainly other Christians -- who stand in opposition to what they see as exclusionary and discriminatory actions.
"It sounds like racism to me. Everyone has the right to peaceful assembly, but to just point out you only want white Christians, that doesn't sound Christian," said the Rev. Calvin Woods of the Southern Leadership Conference. "To me at all, sounds like something Satan would want."
WBRC captures some of the other reactions to the bizarre and controversial event:
Tom Burgess is shocked so much racism still exists.
Burgess said, "There is a level of intolerance that exists. I just think it's a move in the wrong direction."
Kimberly Ellis isn't surprised by people who still hate others because of their skin color, she added, "...especially in Alabama."
Ellis said, "We're in the south, it's where they grew up, where they started. If people are still teaching their children the same thing, they learn it. I expect it."
Another point of contention, as CBS42.com notes, is the "Sacred Christian Cross Lighting Ceremony," which is included last on the flyer advertising the event. Naturally, this gives rise to connotations involving the KKK and its racist, cross-burning actions. But organizers claim the ceremony is being done to merely showcase the fact that their faith has a symbolic meaning and that their actions are Bible-based. Not everyone is buying into that excuse.
"The only context that I'm familiar with is one that is not very positive. And one that really symbolizes an era that many of us have hoped to put behind us," said Hezekiah Jackson, president of the Birmingham Metro NAACP. "And that is this whole era of Jim Crow, this whole era of white supremacy, this whole era of discrimination and racial hatred."
The fourth annual event is scheduled to take place from July 4-6.
(H/T: Friendly Atheist)