Robert Lee IV Quits Job As Pastor After VMAs Speech
A Pastor who spoke out against white supremacy at the 2017 VMAs recently left his church. Robert Lee IV, the great-great-great-great-nephew of Army General Robert E. Lee denounced his ancestor during the VMAs as “an idol of white supremacy, racism, and hate.”
He said as much while standing beside Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer who was mowed down by a white supremacist in Charlottesville.
“As a pastor, it is my moral duty to speak out against racism, America’s original sin,” said Lee. “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.”
Now he’s quit his job as the Pastor of Bethany United Church of Christ in Winston-Salem, N.C. amid controversy for his comments. An official statement from the pastor published on the Auburn Theological Seminary reads;
“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 in which I told the congregation:
“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.”
SMH at the church basically forcing him to resign for *gasp* speaking out against racism. We applaud you Mr. Lee, God speed.