Reverend Robert Wright Lee IV, a descendant of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, has decided to step down as pastor of his North Carolina church after members became uneasy about a speech he gave against white supremacy during the MTV Video Music Awards.
“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 wrote in a post on the Auburn Theological Seminary website.
He wanted to make a statement in tribute to the memory of Heather Heyer, who was killed in the racial violence in Charlottesville last month, and was displeased to find his church didn’t want the national publicity.
“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.”
After the church decided to vote on his tenure following the speech, Lee resigned.
“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,” Lee wrote in his resignation.
In the VMA speech, Lee urged others to “confront racism and white supremacy head-on.” He was pastor at Bethany United Church of Christ.
See the video of Robert Wright Lee IV speaking along with the mother of Heather Heyer, Susan Bro, at this year’s VMAs.
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