Grace College and Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana fired three white employees when they posed for a mock rap album cover.
Inside Higher Ed reports:
Three Grace College and Seminary employees were fired this month after a work-sanctioned photo drew criticism and accusations of racial insensitivity, The Indianapolis Star reported.
The photo, which drew attention after it was posted on an employee’s Facebook page, shows five white employees posing for a mock rap album cover. It was taken as part of “wrap day,” a themed day for the college’s marketing team that also benignly included wrap sandwiches at lunch.
In the photo, one employee appears to be wearing an Afro wig, and another has “Thug Life” written across his knuckles, as well as a fake tear-drop tattoo. Other employees are wearing hoods, chains and backward baseball caps. In the corner, text spells out “N.G.A.” — shorthand for students and staff that means “not Grace appropriate.”
Evan Kilgore, one of the employees fired and the school’s former special projects director, said the term “N.G.A.” is used jokingly on campus to refer to behavior that the private religious institution deems inappropriate.
“When we named our fake album, we never were implying that how we looked or what were dressed like was ‘not Grace appropriate,’” he told the Star.
Read the entire post here. This is unfortunate. I have spoken at Grace and have friends who teach there. It is a fine institution of Christian higher education. Of course I don’t know all the details of what happened here, but if the reporting is accurate I am willing to say that the behavior of these employees does not represent the culture of the school on matters related to race.
What happened at Grace, an evangelical institution, reminds me of what happened recently at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. At Grace, the employees were fired. At Southwestern, the employees (all members of the preaching faculty) were not fired.