Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has “deeply” apologized for a photograph posted by faculty members on social media featuring some of the seminary’s preaching professors dressed as hip hop artists.
Among responses to the photo on social media were allegations it evidenced racial prejudice. Ensuing dialogue on Twitter included an invitation by Southwestern for Grammy-winning Christian hip hop artist Lecrae to lead a dialogue for the seminary community.
Southwestern President Paige Patterson called the photo “a moment of bad judgment” and promised to “redouble our efforts to put an end to any form of racism on this campus.”
A young preaching professor “does rap as a hobby,” Patterson said in a statement released to Baptist Press today (April 26). “He preached a sermon recently in chapel in which he included a section of rap,” he noted. “I thought that it was great, and the students seemed responsive to it. He has since accepted a pastorate; and, as part of his departure, his fellow professors wanted to awaken memories and in so doing to tease him. That is par for the course around here. The president encourages our people to laugh at each other rather than to risk taking ourselves too seriously.
“But, as all members of the preaching faculty have acknowledged, this was a mistake, and one for which we deeply apologize,” Patterson said. “Sometimes, Anglo Americans do not recognize the degree that racism has crept into our lives. Such incidents are tragic but helpful to me in refocusing on the attempt to flush from my own system any remaining nuances of the racist past of our own country. Just as important, my own sensitivity to the corporate and individual hurts of a people group abused by generations of oppressors needs to be constantly challenged.”
The departing faculty member referenced by Patterson is Vern Charette, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Yukon, Okla.
The photo in question — which has been deleted from Twitter — appeared to depict five Anglo Southwestern School of Preaching professors dressed in bandannas, sideways baseball caps, gold chains and other stereotypical hip hop attire. Barry McCarty, who also is the Southern Baptist Convention’s chief parliamentarian, appeared to be holding a handgun. Above them was written “Notorious S.o.P.” [School of Preaching], an apparent parody of the name of late rapper The Notorious B.I.G.
The other four faculty members in the photo are David Allen, dean of the School of Preaching; Kyle Walker, vice president for student services; Deron Biles, professor of pastoral ministries and preaching; and Matthew McKellar, associate professor of preaching.
A screen capture published by Faithfully Magazine indicates Charette tweeted in response April 25 that his colleagues were “all true OG’s” — an acronym for “original gangsters.” The tweet no longer appears on Charette’s Twitter feed.
Southwestern tweeted April 25, “An offensive tweet was posted to one of our faculty members’ personal Twitter handles. We have asked that the tweet be removed.”
As of April 26, the photo did not appear on any of the professors’ Twitter accounts.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press