The owner of a Mississippi wedding venue that canceled the wedding of an interracial couple because she thought the Bible was against their union has apologized following backlash and a Bible study intervention that proved her belief to be wrong.
LaKambria Welch, 24, first told the Deep South Voice that her brother and his fiancée had been in contact with the owner of Boone’s Camp Event Hall making wedding arrangements for about a week when the owner of the venue sent them a message stating that they would not be allowed to get married at the venue “because of (the venue’s) beliefs.”
The Mississippi Secretary of State’s website lists Donna and David Russell as the owner of Boone’s Camp Event Hall, LLC. Filings also show they own Boone’s Camp Mini Storage, LLC.
When Welch realized that her brother, who is black, would not be able to use the venue to marry his white fiancée, she went to the business herself to get a better explanation last weekend. She engaged in a conversation with a woman some have alleged is Donna Russell and recorded it.
“First of all, we don’t do gay weddings or mixed race, because of our Christian race, I mean, our Christian belief,” the woman at the venue told Welch.
“OK, we’re Christians as well,” Welch responded. “So what in the Bible tells you that?”
“Well, I don’t want to argue my faith,” the woman replied. “We just don’t participate … we just choose not to.”
Welch posted the recorded interaction on social media and it went viral with more than 2 million views.
On Tuesday, The Washington Post said the owners of Boone’s Camp posted an apology on the venue’s Facebook page that was later deleted. Screenshots of the apology were captured by Facebook users, and Donna Russell explained how she came to realize her long-held views on interracial marriage were not biblical.
“To all of those offended, hurt, or (who) felt condemn(ed) by my statement, I truly apologize to you for my ignorance in not knowing about this. My intent was never about racism, but to stand firm in what I ‘assumed’ was right concerning marriage. When the Bible tells us to ‘study to show ourselves,’ I have failed to do that on this subject,” she said in her apology.
The venue owner said after the incident with Welch, her husband asked her to show him the scripture that forbids interracial marriage.
“I stood for a minute and began to think about the history of my learning this and where it came from,” she explained. “I was unable to recall instances where the Bible was used given a verse that would support my decision.”
She said she studied the issue on Saturday and Sunday and also spoke with her pastor before realizing “what I had thought to be supported by the Bible was incorrect!”
“I have, for many years, stood firm on my Christian faith not knowing that biracial relationships were NEVER mentioned in the Bible! I know there are verses whom we claim support this, but to my finding it is not supported at all!” she said.
She further urged others with similar beliefs to let them go.
“If marriage is between a husband and a wife whom are equally yoked, who am I to say it is wrong because God does not condemn that relationship,” she wrote.