A pastor in New Jersey has asked one of his churchgoers to stop wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts while Lectoring in church as it could be "a source of division".
Tom Morris has been attending the same church in New Jersey, called Our Lady of Sorrows, since the 80s. He is white – and has started wearing BLM T-shirts when he goes up to read from the Bible during services, something which he said he has done a number of times over the years.
He then received an email from his pastor, asking him to not wear the shirt.
In the email, Father Brian acknowledged that he didn’t have the power to dictate what clothing people could and couldn’t wear to church.
But he said:
I believe that you were already aware of the discomfort some felt by seeing this T-shirt the last time you wore it in church. When you wore it at Mass again today, I received several negative comments as well as an email of complaint.
Nobody in their right mind would disagree with the idea that the lives of Black people matter and are deserving of all respect and dignity and legal protection.
The pastor went on to say that people may have concerns about the organisation itself, which apparently is controversial.
He then asked:
I therefore respectfully request that you, in a spirit of good will, refrain from wearing that T-shirt or any other T-shirt with an overtly political slogan on it when lectoring.
We live in such a contentious society already and I don’t want a T-shirt worm at Mass to become a source of distraction or bad feelings in our parish.
Since then, the Archdiocese of Newark has put out a statement in support of the pastor, pointing out that their dress code does not prohibit the wearing of T-shirts in church. Although the statement confirmed that those who serve in the role of lector are expected to refrain from wearing t-shirts as well as any clothing that draws attention to the individual and distracts from the Word of God.
Morris said that he was disappointed, and that he didn’t see how his shirt was a distraction from the scripture, .
“It’s not about me. I want to call attention to the teachings of Jesus — how we are supposed to treat each other,” he said to the Daily Dot. “I won’t stop. I’m committed. I will not back down.”