"Thompson told me that Stella and her boyfriend were not allowed to sing in the church any more," said Mr Harville. ” He added that the ban was a “black eye to the church, a black eye to our community and a black eye to God”.“The way I look at it, it's a slap in God's face to say something like this," he said.The resolution, passed by members after a 9-6 vote in favour, states that the church "does not condone interracial marriage”.

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The church's pastor, Stacy Stepp, has opposed the ban and said the denomination's regional conference will begin working on resolving the issue this weekend.

Interracial marriage was only been legal in all US states since 1967.

Opposition to interracial marriages has fallen with every generation, with up to 97 per cent of younger Americans now having no issue with it, polls have indicated, although pockets of resistance still exists in some states.

Meanwhile, other folks had some real explaining to do.

But people who knew I’d attended the school wanted to hear my take on the matter. Advertisement Obligingly, I wrote an opinion piece describing my experiences inside the Bob Jones University bubble and urging more tolerance for different points of view.

Having turned sharply away from my fundamentalist background in the four years since I’d graduated and returned to my hometown, I felt no duty to defend the school.

Bush went on the defensive, separating himself from the school’s ideology while maintaining his right to appear there.

The move "was not intended to judge the salvation of anyone, but is intended to promote greater unity among the church body and the community we serve", Mr Thompson’s motion said.

Around 25 parishioners abstained from voting in the ballot on Sunday by leaving the church. “I am not prejudiced against any race of people, have never in my lifetime spoken evil about a race.

Mr Thompson, who stepped down as pastor earlier this year citing health problems, denied that the ban was motivated by racism. That’s what this is being portrayed as, but it is not." He later told a local radio station: “I do not believe in interracial marriages, and I do not believe this will give our church a black eye at all." Zimbabwean Mr Chikuni has lived in the US for 11 years, having come to Kentucky to study, and now works as a student adviser at Georgetown College.

Miss Harville, who is studying for a master's degree in Indiana, said she was “deeply hurt” as she has attended the church since childhood and knows those who voted for the ban personally.