Robert E Lee Descendent Calls Racism ‘America’s Original Sin’

Joshua Gill | Religion Reporter

A direct descendant of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee resigned from his position as pastor after calling racism “America’s original sin.”

Rev. Robert E. Lee IV said in a statement released Monday that he reluctantly chose to resign after members of the congregation of Bethany United Church of Christ decried Lee’s comments about racism at MTV’s Video Music Awards. Church members expressed concern not only over Lee’s support of certain political groups, but also over the massive amount of media attention focused on the church as a result of his statements, according to New York Daily News.

“My name is Robert Lee IV, I’m a descendant of Robert E. Lee, the Civil War general whose statue was at the center of violence in Charlottesville. We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy, racism, and hate. As a pastor, it is my moral duty to speak out against racism, America’s original sin,” Lee told MTV’s audience.

“Today, I call on all of us with privilege and power to answer God’s call to confront racism and white supremacy head-on. We can find inspiration in the Black Lives Matter movement, the women who marched in the Women’s March in January, and, especially, Heather Heyer, who died fighting for her beliefs in Charlottesville,” Lee said.

The 24-year-old pastor tendered his resignation when the church decided to vote on his tenure, just six months after he began pastoring. Some members of the church supported Lee’s comments, but many took issue with Lee’s support of “Black Lives Matter movement, the Women’s March, and Heather Heyer as examples of racial justice work,” according to Lee.

“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,” Lee wrote in his statement.

Lee said he felt “a deep love” for his now former congregation and regretted that his public comments “caused concern and pain to my church.”

The Daily Caller News Foundation contacted Lee’s church, but received no comment in time for publication.

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