The Southern Baptist Convention’s flagship seminary has released a report detailing their history of racism and support for slavery as part of an endeavor to recognize their past moral failings on race issues.
“We must repent of our own sins, we cannot repent for the dead. We must, however, offer full lament for a legacy we inherit, and a story that is now ours,” wrote The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler, Jr., in the 71-page “Report on Slavery and Racism in the History of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.”
Mohler appointed a committee last year to research the history of the Louisville-based evangelical school, which was founded in 1859 as part of the pro-slavery SBC, on the issues of race, slavery and civil rights.
The committee consisted of six scholars, including Gregory A. Wills, professor of church history and former dean of the School of Theology who chaired the committee.
“The history of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is intertwined with the history of American slavery and the commitment to white supremacy which supported it. Slavery left its mark on the seminary just as it did upon the American nation as a whole,” states the report’s “Summary of Findings.”
“The belief in white supremacy that undergirded slavery also undergirded new forms of racial oppression. The seminary’s leaders long shared that belief and therefore failed to combat effectively the injustices stemming from it.”
The report notes that the seminary’s founders all held slaves, supported the Confederacy during the American Civil War, and up until the 1940s actively supported segregation and racial inequality.
The report also found that before the 1940s, the seminary endorsed the “Lost Cause” narrative of American history, which promoted a pro-South perspective on slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, often to justify Jim Crow laws.
There are some positives in the seminary’s history, according to the report, including steps toward advancing black education before the 1940s, integrating their classes three years before the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling, and faculty giving support for the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and 1960s.
“This report documents the contradictions and complexities of the experience of Southern Baptists and race in America. We have not overcome all the contradictions, but we are committed to doing so,” notes the report in its conclusion.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski