North Georgia Commission on Religion and Race Statement Regarding
US Supreme Court Decisions on Affirmative Action
in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and
Students for Fair Admissions, Inc., Petitioner v. University of North Carolina, et al.
on Public Accommodations in 303 Creative LLC et al. v. Elenis et al.
On June 29, 2023, the US Supreme Court reversed decades of precedent by striking down the use of affirmative action programs at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina. To be more specific, the Court struck down the ability of institutions of higher learning to use race as one of many factors in determining a student’s admission, thus expanding the diversity of the institutions’ respective student bodies.
On June 30, 2023, the US Supreme Court ruled in 303 Creative LLC et al that the First Amendment allows a business owner to deny public accommodations to any person or persons on the basis of their right to “think and speak as they wish, not as the government demands.” In this case, the Court granted the plaintiff the right to deny her wedding services to same-sex couples based on her religious belief.
These decisions stand in contradiction to the gospel of salvation and liberation for all people. Such actions demand that we speak, that our voices and commitments are stated and clear.
“From its inception, affirmative action policies were created to improve the employment and/or educational opportunities for members of minority groups and women.” In fact, “The successes of white women make a case not for abandoning affirmative action but for continuing it.” Affirmative action exists because legalized discrimination denied equality and equity to Black, Brown and other marginalized groups in this country for hundreds of years. Its strategic aim is to use law and policy, the tools this government used to oppress, as means to mend injuries that have endured and perpetuated harm. This Supreme Court’s judgment to reverse 50 years of precedent threatens to return the nation to a former era of unfairness and malevolence.
Likewise, the Court’s decision in 303 Creative LLC opens the door to the absolute unholy era of Jim Crow. In fact, the case itself, based in conjecture, is a resurrection of the horrid practice of controlling the outcomes of legal cases through fabrication, lies and “worries” by the plaintiff (racialized as white) with a halo of White Citizens Council christianity affixed on top. How many lynchings of people of color, especially Black people, occurred because of the fabrications, lies and “worries” of white plaintiffs who were seeking to hold on to worldly power and white privilege? God’s church must own its divine power to publicly resist these lies, these odious manipulations of the legal system on any population—because it never stops with just one group.
As United Methodists, we are committed to the gospel standards of justice and compassion. The gospel demands our advocacy for those who have been made historically to exist on the margins by embedded systems of racism, classism and sexism. It calls us to be agents of uplift and advancement for those too long neglected. The church stands with the disinherited, the rejected, the ones whom society has disregarded and denied their humanity.
In so standing, we call our church related colleges and universities in North Georgia (among them, Emory, Wesleyan, Young Harris, Reinhardt, Oxford, LaGrange, etc.) to remove legacy admissions, thus acknowledging a program of privilege ignored by the courts, but that has harmed people of color for years. Further, we call on The United Methodist Church to increase offerings to United Methodist related Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), which, already under-resourced, will experience increased applications and needs because of this decree.
We will continue to endorse legislation that remedies social inequities. We will support institutions, in our connectional church and beyond, that lift the descendants of those who suffered the sins of chattel slavery, exploitative sharecropping, and legalized discrimination. We will persist in inviting and working towards an empowered United Methodist Church that supports equity and diversity here in the North Georgia Conference and around the world.
We pledge that we will not surrender to despair or futility, believing that God’s loving will shall be done. This ruling threatens gains made by our forebears, but we do not lose heart. Such has happened before. We pledge to engage the difficulty of times like these with gospel hope. Standing on our faith, we trust that justice shall prevail and that God’s people shall be better.
Rev. Dr. Vance P. Ross - Chair, CCORR
Carol Allums - Vice-Chair, CCORR
Pamela Perkins Carn - Chair, NGBMCR
Rev. Dr. Brian Tillman - Director of Inclusion and Advocacy
Bishop Robin Dease, Bishop, North Georgia Conference
Nate Abrams, North Georgia Conference Lay Leader
NGa Conference Commission on Religion and Race
NGa Black Methodist for Church Renewal
NGa Reparations Task Force
NGa Committee on Native American Ministries, chaired by Rev. Dr. Beckie Jones
NGa Hispanic-Latino Congregational Development Committee, chaired by Rev. Ash McEuen
Rev. Cassie Noland Rapko, Chair, NGa Church and Society
Joyce Dunaway Parker
Johnnie R Simmons
Garrison-Wade, Dorothy F. and Lewis, Dr. Chance W, “Affirmative Action: History and Analysis,” The Journal of College Admission (Summer 2004): 23-26. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ682488.pdf
Kohn, Sally,“Affirmative Action Has Helped White Women More Than Anyone,” Time.com, June 17, 2013, https://time.com/4884132/affirmative-action-civil-rights-white-women/