Former Baptist minister calls for fairness

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Moffatt says we need to be open-hearted, welcoming and not left behind

By Brad Bowman

The call for a Fairness Ordinance in Shelbyville came once again at the council’s meeting Thursday, but not from the same Kentuckians for the Commonwealth group. Instead, this time it was delivered by a former Baptist minister.

The Rev. Dr. Fred Moffatt, formerly of First Baptist Church in Shelbyville, addressed the council in hopes they would consider adopting a fairness ordinance. Last month, the Shelby County chapter of Kentuckians for The Commonwealth gave a silent protest at the meeting. Moffatt, in comparison, spoke directly to council members and the mayor. Although, as with the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, the council offered no response.

“I represent no group or organization. Three or four weeks ago, I told my daughter, Mary Jane, who is here with her husband, Joe Yates, and my son, Bruce, with his wife, Sandy, who live in Maryland 600 miles away, what I wanted to bring up. To them it was almost a natural and foregone conclusion,” Moffatt said. “What I want to bring to your quick attention is some of the things that through years white American men have done.”

Moffatt spoke of how white men first came to America and stole land from the indigenous people already living here. It wasn’t soon after that, Moffatt said, we accepted racism into our culture.

“Next we welcomed the ships from Africa and took the cargo as slaves ready-made wherever we would want them to work. Often times, in far more horrible conditions than I learned about in four years at a four-year college in the late 1940s when the “Gone With the Wind” picture was pretty much what the history books written by our Americans said. And we still have racial tension in our land tonight. Do you recognize the name Mr. Sterling who owns a basketball team in California? Would any one of you want like to have your sister as his next sweetheart? I don’t think so.”

During his time in college, Moffatt said he realized discrimination was accepted.

“Of those fraternities, two were for Jews and everybody knew it. Little ol’ Fred [referring to himself] just kind of took it for granted. Bob Mendelssohn, whom I knew fairly well, went to one of those fraternities and was the valedictorian of our senior class. [He] became a physician I’m sure in his hometown Cincinnati. It struck me when I realized that this was a very, very acceptable part of our American system,” Moffatt said.

“To look upon all these people one way or another, depending on your lifestyle and what you liked and didn’t like, as the ‘other’—certainly, blacks and most certainly, homosexuals. The fires, I’m sure, were often lit probably in the majority by Baptist preachers who turned quickly to Leviticus chapter 20.”

In the biblical verses of Leviticus, there are several tenets listing the appropriate punishment for sins. Those sins, Moffatt cited:

“A man who lies with his father’s wife (stepmother by relationship) they are adulterers and they shall be killed. And on down the line until it finally says if a male lies with a male they shall be killed. I’m not going to push it too far that it (the list of punishment) is sort of in a descending order, but pretend with me for a moment it is. Look back at verse nine where it says anyone who curses his mother or father shall be killed. That to me in its location almost says it is of the most significance and danger.”

The discrimination against women, who make $ .85 cents compared to the dollar their father, brother or another man makes, Moffatt said, is another form of discrimination and refusing to accept anyone’s equality, permeates even scientific views.

“We talk about this as one country. Let it be one. Twenty, thirty years or forty years ago, a lot of conversation from our pulpits was that homosexuality is learned and it can be unlearned,” Moffatt said. “You come to our meeting and we will pray and we will teach you and we will help you overcome this and be straight.”

After consulting with a doctor, Moffatt said he learned that sexual preferences aren’t just simply a learned behavior.

“It’s just like if you come into this world and you discover, I noticed with our mayor [Tom Hardesty] and my son is the same way, both afflicted – left handed. My goodness,” Moffatt said. “When I was a kid, parents and teachers and medical people tried to get these left-handed kids to learn to use their right hand — a waste of time.”

Quoting statements made by the American Psychiatric Association, Moffatt emphasized just as futile as it may be to teach someone to use their other limb, so to is it futile to waste time on anything other than love and understanding.

“You can’t change them. You don’t need to try, but you need to be great-hearted and open-hearted and welcome them to the family of man,” Moffatt said. “I don’t want Shelbyville to be left in the lurch. I want this community of ours to be on the cutting edge, the helping edge in every area of life. I want us to be fair to everybody. I hope you will consider and pass the fairness ordinance.”

Vicco, Frankfort, Lexington, Louisville, Morehead and Covington have adopted the fairness ordinance in Kentucky.