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Lee descendant resigns as pastor over racial justice comment

 

September 6, 2017



RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A descendant of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee says he stepped down as pastor of a North Carolina church after negative reactions to his comments supporting racial justice during an MTV awards show “made it clear that I was no longer welcome there.”

The general’s distant nephew, the Rev. Robert W. Lee IV, issued a statement Monday saying he resigned from Bethany United Church of Christ near Winston-Salem after the congregation decided to put his tenure to a vote.

He said some church members were uncomfortable with his remarks praising the Black Lives Matter movement during the Aug. 27 MTV Video Music Awards. He was introducing the mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed during demonstrations over a Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Lee also used the televised remarks to lament that his ancestor has become a symbol of racism.

“We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy, racism and hate,” he said. “As a pastor, it is my moral duty to speak out against racism, America’s original sin.”

The MTV appearance brought unwanted attention to the small church about 100 miles west of Raleigh. The church has a Winston-Salem address, but serves the town of Midway, Lee said.

“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,” Lee said in the statement explaining his resignation.

 
 

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