Al Mohler’s Report on Slavery and Racism at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

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Read it here.

Justin Taylor has summarized the 66-page report in a post at The Gospel Coalition:

The following 13 points constitute a summary of the findings in the 66-page report:

  1. The seminary’s founding faculty all held slaves.
  2. The seminary’s early faculty and trustees defended the righteousness of slaveholding.
  3. Upon Abraham Lincoln’s election, the seminary faculty sought to preserve slavery.
  4. The seminary supported the Confederacy’s cause to preserve slavery.
  5. After emancipation, the seminary faculty opposed racial equality.
  6. In the Reconstruction era, the faculty supported the restoration of white rule in the South.
  7. Joseph E. Brown, the seminary’s most important donor and chairman of its Board of Trustees 1880-1894, earned much of his fortune by the exploitation of mostly black convict-lease laborers.
  8. The seminary faculty urged just and humane treatment for blacks.
  9. Before the 1940s, the seminary faculty generally approved the Lost Cause mythology.
  10. Until the 1940s, the seminary faculty supported black education and the segregation of schools and society.
  11. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the seminary faculty appealed to science to support their belief in white superiority.
  12. The seminary admitted blacks to its degree programs in 1940 and integrated its classrooms in 1951.
  13. The seminary faculty supported civil rights for blacks but had mixed appraisals of the Civil Rights Movement.

I will try to read the entire report and make some comments later.  In the meantime, I think it is fair to say that this is a step in the right direction.  I am glad to see evangelical institutions coming to grips with this history.

I am reminded here of the theme of our latest episode of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast (Episode 43: “Reconciling the Church and Slavery”).

One thought on “Al Mohler’s Report on Slavery and Racism at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

  1. Point 11 — “In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the seminary faculty appealed to science to support their belief in white superiority.”

    AKA “Scientific Racism”, which substituted Darwin for the Curse of Ham to prop up White Supremacy as a fundamental Law of Nature. In his essay collections, Stephen Jay Gould wrote extensively on the subject as part of “history of science”; how Bad Science (like Bad Theology before it) was used to prop up White Supremacy.

    And “White” was defined much more narrowly than today, usually including only the definer’s specific tribe of white men. (For instance, by their definition I am not a white man; my mother’s family came from northern Italy and Italians weren’t White.) In the Anglosphere, that was “The Anglo-Saxon Race(TM)”, tall, blond, and blue-eyed (sound familiar?) Italians weren’t White, Slavs weren’t White, Spanish/Portuguese weren’t White, even IRISH weren’t White. (The only pattern I could see was a fairly-clean breakdown from the Reformation Wars; Protestant countries were White, Catholic countries weren’t.)

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