Rev. Rob Lee IV, Whose Anti-Racism Speech on MTV Went Viral, Has Left His Church September 5, 2017

Rev. Rob Lee IV, Whose Anti-Racism Speech on MTV Went Viral, Has Left His Church

If you watched the MTV Video Music Awards last week — and you know you did — one of the most powerful moments came when Rev. Rob Lee IV, a descendent of Robert E. Lee, came on stage to denounce white supremacy in no uncertain terms.


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.

You would think decent Christians everywhere would appreciate what he said. And in some quarters, that’s true… but not at his own North Carolina church. In fact, the backlash over his VMA appearance was severe enough among his own congregation that Lee resigned from Bethany United Church of Christ yesterday.

He wrote about it in a public statement:

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

He’s still a believer, but the church he led no longer wanted him in charge. He left before they kicked him out. And he quoted the Harry Potter series along the way.

The United Church of Christ is usually progressive on social justice issues, but denouncing racial bigotry went a step too far for some, I suppose. As of this writing, Bethany UCC still lists Lee as the pastor on its website.

While I’m sure Lee will soon find a new home where he can continue pushing for justice, his church made a mistake by forcing out a sensible voice. It’s just too damn bad that members of his own congregation would have rather seen him stay silent than speak his mind in front of the largest crowd he’s ever had.

(via Jezebel)

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