When Gaye Clark prayed to God to send her daughter Anna a “godly, kind” husband, she got exactly what she asked for.
Glenn was a devout Christian who volunteered at church, mentoring kids in an after-school program. By day, he worked as an applications developer for Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and he was well on his way to becoming “a great dad and a good provider,” Clark said.
Glenn was a gentleman, too. Clark noticed that he’d hold doors open for Anna, even at the grocery store. Her daughter seemed happy, she said.
But there was one thing the 53-year-old mother was hung up on: Glenn was a black man with dreadlocks.
Clark, a white freelance writer and cardiac care nurse from Georgia, confessed in a blog post Tuesday on the website the Gospel Coalition, or TGC, that she initially struggled with the idea of her daughter marrying an African American man. In it, she explained how she ultimately came to embrace her daughter’s decision, and offered some advice for parents like her to consider if they, too, are hesitant about a child’s interracial marriage.
The post, titled “When God Sends Your White Daughter a Black Husband,” has since been taken down from the website, but not before receiving a hail of criticism from readers online, many of whom called it tone-deaf, un-Christian and downright racist.
Clark, for her part, thought she was being open-minded.
“I was proud of a wish list void of unrealistic expectations,” she wrote. “But God called my bluff.”
Clark said she never envisioned her daughter in an interracial marriage. But after Clark saw the sparkle in Anna’s eyes when she introduced her to Glenn, she came around.
In her post, Clark urged parents in her situation to keep an open mind, too. Among her recommendations: Be patient with bigoted family members, forge a good relationship with the groom’s family and “remember heaven’s demographics.”
Clark also wrote that “Glenn moved from being a black man to beloved son when I saw his true identity as an image bearer of God, a brother in Christ, and a fellow heir to God’s promises.”
However well-intentioned Clark’s words might have been, they backfired.
Beyond the intensely negative reaction on social media, Clark and her family received thousands of hateful comments and even threats from white supremacist groups, the site’s editors said.
On Wednesday, Clark asked TGC to remove the post, saying she was “profoundly grieved by the hurt and harm it has caused.” It was taken down later in the day.
Clark wasn’t immediately available for comment Wednesday.
The furor over Clark’s piece is unsurprising. Interracial marriage — which Clark acknowledged was once a “taboo” in white society — has risen steadily since the U.S. Supreme Court scrubbed the remaining state anti-miscegenation laws from the books in its landmark Loving v. Virginia ruling in 1967.
In 2013, a record-setting 12 percent of newlyweds were married to someone of a race different from their own, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of census data. More than 6 percent of all spouses were married to someone of a different race, up from less than 1 percent in the years after the Loving decision. About 19 percent of blacks and 7 percent of whites who got married in 2013 had spouses of a different race, according to Pew. And the figure was even higher for black men, one in four of whom married someone who was not black.
TGC editor Jason Cook explained the editorial decisions that went into Clark’s piece in a podcast Wednesday that was featured in the post’s place.
Cook, who is black, said he had read the post before publication, as had Glenn and Anna. He said he also sent it to “multiple African Americans and people of color.”
“All these eyes that were put on this article all basically came back and said that the article itself was very helpful, that it was beautiful,” Cook said in the podcast.
But in light of the backlash, he said, TGC could have done things a lot differently.
First and foremost, Cook said, the site would have been better off inviting Glenn’s mother to co-author the piece to bring in perspectives from both families and both races.
Cook also acknowledged readers’ concerns about Clark coming off as a “white hero,” saying it “probably wasn’t the best for the main discussion of such sensitive issues.”
“There are a lot of things we could have done better, and we’re going to learn from this,” he said. “We hear our brothers and sisters, and we respect that.”