Reverend Robert Wright Lee IV, who is the great-great-great-great-nephew of General Robert E. Lee, has left his church, Bethany United Church of Christ, following a “hurtful” reaction from his congregation in response to his speech at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards.
The minister labeled racism as “America’s original sin.”
“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,” he explains on the Auburn Theological Seminary’s website only one week after delivering his impassioned speech. “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.”
The church is planning to vote on the tenure of Lee before he resigned, “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,” he writes. “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…”