Black LGBT Folk To Protest Rick Warren’s MLK Day Sermon at King’s Church

The layers of the following story are a mess. But let’s jump in:

One year ago this weekend, then-Senator Barack Obama delivered a speech at Ebenezer Baptist Church where he very directly challenged the Black church and by extension the Black Community on its treatment of Black LGBT folks. He said:

For most of this country’s history, we in the African-American community have been at the receiving end of man’s inhumanity to man. And all of us understand intimately the insidious role that race still sometimes plays – on the job, in the schools, in our health care system, and in our criminal justice system. And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King’s vision of a beloved community. We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them.

The leadership at Ebeneezer Baptist Church, the church that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King , Jr. was pastor, and which played a huge role in the Civil Rights Movement, paid that speech no mind, and President Barack Obama doesn’t seemed to have meant much by it, either. Why? Not only does Obama choose Rev. Rick Warren (Prop 8 supporter, evolution denier and anti-choice zealot) to give the invocation at his inauguration, but Ebenezer Baptist Church has chosen this white evangelical pastor to give the sermon at the MLK Day service!

Coretta Scott King and daughter Yolanda King (both deceased) were both allies to the LGBT community, and would have flat out disapproved of this choice, and so likely would have Martin. It’s hard not to think Sharpton’s speech one week before MLK Day in Atlanta wasn’t also given as an indirect scolding of Ebenezer choosing Rick Warren. But luckily, the Atlanta Black LGBT Coalition, being led by two friends/comrades of mine, Paris Hatcher & Craig Washington, are leading a protest of Ebenezer this weekend to express their outrage on this choice. Southern Voice (my favorite of all LGBT newspapers) writes:

“Warren not only compares women having an abortion to Nazis, and pro-choice supporters to holocaust deniers, but he also opposed the right of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and queer folk to marriage, as well as [admittance] to his church,” said Craig Washington, a founding member of the Atlanta Black LGBT Coalition, which is organizing the protest…These views, these words, are acts of oppression. They are incompatible with the dream of the beloved community Martin Luther King envisioned, and the spirit with which Coretta Scott King founded the King Center.”

Warren “preaches a message that is dated, harmful and dangerous about our bodies, our sexualities and our communities,” said Paris Hatcher, a lesbian activist with reproductive rights group Spark!, another protest organizer.“As members of King’s beloved community, we say that all communities are sacred,” Hatcher said. “And at times like these, Atlanta needs to hear a message of love and liberation that affirms everyone, not a narrow opinion that reinforces the dialogue of oppression and shame.”

The protest is scheduled for Monday, January 19th at 9am, at the corner of Jackson & Auburn Streets, across from Ebenezer.

The reality is that we’re going to have to continue to bring it to the rest of the Black community like this from here on in.

5 thoughts on “Black LGBT Folk To Protest Rick Warren’s MLK Day Sermon at King’s Church

  1. Correct me if I am mistaken here – Dr./Pastor ML King was a Baptist but most of all a believer in Jesus Christ and the Word of God – Bible. Ebenezer Baptist Church is still a Baptist church, the congregats are still Baptist believers in Jesus Christ and as such believers in the Word of God. The Baptist Church, Jesus Christ and the Word of God would all agree that both abortion and homosexuality were sins (remember though, hate the sin not the sinner). I fail to see the problem.

  2. Well you are mistaken on several fronts–learn a little bit about Bayard Rustin’s relationship to MLK, the Civil Rights Movement and Ebenezer, what Coretta Scott King did in terms of LGBT community, not to mention a whole host of historical and theological texts that complicate your analysis of what the Bible says, but I don’t want to get into a battle over theology. The point it is, MLK day, and MLK as a person, is not being honored because he was a minister or because of Jesus. He is honored most importantly for his political organizing, and political vision. And to suggest that this day is like Christmas or Easter undermines the King legacy, the Civil Rights Movement, and is really silly, shallow, and a-historic.

  3. UHHH, I wish I could be there protesting! Just for a second, I forgot about President Obama picking Rev what’s his face to speak. And now he is speaking at not only the inauguration but Ebenezer Baptist Church?? I am outrage. I was feeling down and depress about not going to the inauguration. You reminded me exactly why I don’t feel too bad any more. However, I would like to attend the protest and document everything. Kenyon, you must start a radio show, if not video show. Maybe this is how we can work together more. Maybe some type of discussion like democracy now but with more life . It is so well needed. Anyway, getting back to your post. I agree, Coretta Scott King and Yolanda would not approve of this at all. I’m almost positive but wasn’t Yolanda a lesbian? I know her family never really spoke her being a lesbian except indirectly. How does MLK son feel in all of this? This is a mess. Of course the church would look over Obama speech this is why we are in the mess we are in now because we are in denial about a lot of things. WOW, it really seems like things are going to get worse before it get’s better. I wish I was in the church and interrupt the Rev speech. I would be like the guy that threw the shoe at Bush only I would use my voice instead of a shoe. This is a sad day. Unless some miracle happen to get me to DC, I will be live on Out FM (WBAI 99.5 FM ) Monday morning from 11 AM – 12 Noon. I will find a way to include this issue in between pitching MLK items to fund raise for WBAI. Hey Kenyon, if you have audio of Obama speech when he spoke at the church, please e-mail it to me at info[AT]


  4. Cbraper the problem is that while the Bible does say it is a sin, it also says judge not. Dr. Martin Luther King believed in equal treatment for ALL people, regardless of whatever walk of life they came from. To have someone that directly opposes that preach there isn’t exactly right in my eyes.

    Non-heterosexuals are God’s children too.

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