by Charlton “Chuck” Stanley, Weekend Contributor
Since February is Black History Month, it seemed to me that a local story was worth discussing. I first became aware of the story when it appeared in the Johnson City (Tennessee) Press last Tuesday . A little further digging revealed the story originated when a member of the church sent a copy of one of “Brother” Donny Reagan’s sermons to The American Jesus blog. The American Jesus blog is run by the Rev. Zach Hunt, who is currently working on a graduate degree at Yale Divinity School. Zach published a brief story and posted the seventeen minute long sermon on The American Jesus blog last week.
“Brother” Danny Reagan is pastor of the Happy Valley Church of Jesus Christ, located between Johnson City and Elizabethton, TN. He records and archives all his sermons on the church website. Or at least he did until a couple of days ago. Now look what you get when you click the link.
In the seventeen minute sermon, Reagan rails against interracial marriages and biracial children. He says he doesn’t consider it right for white people and black people to marry. He calls such relationships “hybreeding.” So one might know this neologism is not a slip of the tongue, he says it repeatedly.
“Hybreeding, hybreeding, oh, how terrible, hybreeding. What white woman would want her baby to be mulatto, made by a colored man? Let’s stay the way God made us. I believe it’s right.”
Local media contacted him and he did not back down. He released more statements, and the more he talked, the deeper the hole he digs for himself. He says the main thing he regrets is that some folks might think his statements reflect badly on his congregation. No kidding!
He added that he would not conduct a marriage for an interracial couple. He added,
“This doesn’t have anything to do with race, I don’t think it would be right or fruitful.”
He claims to know who sent the video of his sermon to The American Jesus, but has not identified who he suspects sent it or why.
Then something curious happened. The video, which had been posted on several web sites, was deleted by YouTube on a claim of “copyright violation.” Not only the sermon in question, but all his other archived sermons as well. Gone. Deleted. 404 Error.
His archive of recorded sermons had been available online until the past day or so. I didn’t get a chance to view them before they were deleted, but there were a number of responses to the article when it appeared in the Johnson City Press. From the comment section we learn the following factoids:
….he preaches against homosexuality much more than mixed marriages.
He doesn’t think women should vote…. Called women “dogmeat” in one sermon. I thought we were past all of this.
It’s as if we have traveled back 50 years. I can’t bring myself to call him pastor or preacher. Maybe Grand Wizard but not a man of God!
We can thank those who watched the sermons and reported on them before they were deleted. It occurs to me that if he believed so much in what he was saying, he is cowardly for not having the courage to keep them online. Copyright violation, indeed! Can we add hypocrisy to the list of this preacher’s sins?
One thing Mr. Reagan forgot. This is the internet age, and nothing ever truly disappears. His seventeen minute sermon has been excerpted and some of the juiciest parts where he talks about “hybreeding” presented on news programs. Here is the clip from The Young Turks with hosts Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian.
His church is a rather large one, and according to local accounts, about 500 people show up for services every week. That sounds like a large number, but given the fact the tri-cities area of northeast Tennessee has a total metro area population well into six figures, 500 people are not representative of the community at large. It was gratifying that the local populace was outraged, horrified and vocal in their denunciation of the video and its creator. This is a conservative area of a conservative state, but this is racism, not conservatism. And as the comments in the newspaper suggest, he is not only racist, but sexist and homophobic as well.
According to a Gallup poll cited by the Johnson City Press,
“A 2013 Gallup poll showed that 87 percent of Americans approve of interracial marriages, as opposed to just 4 percent in 1958.”
Looks like everyone is out of step but Donny Reagan.