Church ban on mixed-race couples may end

PIKEVILLE, Ky., Dec. 2 (UPI) -- A Kentucky pastor says he expects a vote by his congregation to ban the membership of interracial couples to be overturned by the denomination.

The Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church in Pike County voted 9-6 last week to institute the ban after the white daughter of a longtime member showed up this summer with her fiance, a black man from Zimbabwe.


Pastor Stacy Stepp told the Appalachian News-Express he expected the state and national Free Will associations to order the ban to be dropped in the near future.

Stepp was among the voters who opposed the ban. The News-Express noted a large number of abstentions.

USA Today said Friday the National Association of Free Will Baptists issued a written statement this week saying the church had no official policy on interracial marriages and had a history of championing civil rights.

"Many interracial couples are members of Free Will Baptist churches," the statement said. "They are loved, accepted, and respected by their congregations. It is unfair and inaccurate to characterize the denomination as racist."

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