Home News SBC’s Flagship Seminary Releases Report Detailing Racist Past

SBC’s Flagship Seminary Releases Report Detailing Racist Past

4. SBTS supported the Confederacy in the Civil War due to its desire to preserve slavery. “At the 1863 meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, Broadus drafted and presented resolutions pledging Southern Baptist support for the Confederacy.

5. After emancipation, SBTS faculty opposed racial equality. “The faculty called for justice and sympathy for blacks, and supported the ministries of black churches and schools, but they defended white rule and the disfranchisement of blacks based upon the doctrine of white supremacy.

6. During the Reconstruction era, SBTS faculty advocated for the continuance of white rule in the South. Professor “William Whitsitt…assured his students that “whites will rule in the South.”

7. Joseph E. Brown, the seminary’s most important donor and chairman of its Board of Trustees, earned much of his material wealth through exploiting black convict-lease laborers. “The legal system entrapped thousands of black men, often on trumped up charges and without any due process protections, and earned money for sheriffs and state treasuries by selling their labor. It was worse than slavery. Investigations of Brown’s Dade Coal operation concluded that ‘if there is a hell on earth, it is the Dade coal mines.’”

8. Some faculty did allow their viewpoints on African Americans to evolve. “Broadus repudiated American slavery in 1882. William J. McGlothlin rejected previous attempts to connect the curse of Ham to blackness or justification for slavery. Broadus chastised white Christians for assuming their worship was more acceptable to God than that offered by black Christians. Several faculty and trustees lamented the prevalence of lynching in the South.”

9. Before the 1940s, SBTS faculty generally approved Lost Cause mythology. “White southern apologists rewrote southern history in order to meet the needs of the Jim Crow era. They construed the Old South as an idyllic place for both slaves and masters, claimed that the South went to war to uphold their honor rather than slavery, and blamed postwar evils on such Radical Republican policy blunders as granting the freedmen legal equality and the vote.”

10. Until the 1940s, SBTS faculty supported segregation in schools and society. While many faculty members taught black students and believed in theological education for black people, they did so as long as separation existed between black and white.

11. As late as the 20th century, SBTS faculty appealed to science to support their belief in white supremacy. “The faculty believed that science had demonstrated black inferiority. They were convinced of the superiority of white civilization and that this justified racial inequality.”

12. SBTS admitted black students in 1940 and integrated its classrooms in 1951. “President Ellis Fuller recommended and trustees enacted fully integrated programs and classrooms in 1951. In the following year, the first black students participated in regular graduation services, including B.J. Miller, Claude Taylor and J.V. Bottoms.

13. While SBTS faculty supported civil rights for blacks, they had “mixed appraisals” of the Civil Rights Movement. “While the seminary faculty generally urged compliance with the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, they largely supported a moderate approach to advance civil rights for blacks and were uncomfortable with Martin Luther King Jr.’s direct-action tactics.” SBTS eventually invited King to speak in 1961 and gradually become more supportive of the Civil Rights Movement.

Today, as the writers of the report summarize it, the SBC is committed to understanding and upholding the diversity God created. And while they admit they may not be quite to the point of seeing diversity as God sees it, they are “committed to doing so.”

For Mohler, diversity is an issue on par with understanding the gospel. “Diversity is not an accident or a problem—it’s a sign of God’s providence and promise. If the church gets this wrong, it’s not just getting race and ethnic difference wrong. It’s getting the gospel wrong.”

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Megan Briggs is a writer and editor for ChurchLeaders.com. Her experience in ministry, an extensive amount of which was garnered overseas, gives her a unique perspective on the global church. She has the longsuffering and altruistic nature of foreign friends and missionaries to humbly thank for this experience. Megan is passionate about seeking and proclaiming the truth. When she’s not writing, Megan likes to explore God’s magnificent creation.