The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky has rejected a call to pay reparations for slavery to a local Historically Black University, or HBCU.
According to the Louisville Courier Journal, the seminary, the oldest of six associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, said “conflicting theologies” prevent it from donating funds to Simmons College of Kentucky. The seminary had revealed its connections to slavery late last year. Simmons was founded by former slaves.
“[A] partnership can come only with institutions that share our theological commitments,” wrote seminary President Albert Mohler Jr. and trustees Chairman Matthew Schmucker to EmpowerWest’s Reverend Joe Phelps. Phelps and other clergy have called on the seminary to give a “meaningful portion” of its assets — a “biblical tithe” of ten percent — to Simmons “as an act of ‘repentance and repair’ to the descendants of slaves.”
“A repair is paying back people you’ve wronged,” Phelps said. However, Mohler and Schmucker said the Southern Baptist Convention “would not allow nor support the transfer of funds to any other institution.”
[The Rev. Kevin] Cosby told the Courier Journal on Thursday he was not surprised by the seminary leaders’ response to the petition.
“They have consistently been on the wrong side of justice issues,” Cosby said, adding that apologizing for ties to slavery “is not repentance.”
“They acknowledged the damage. This is about repair,” Cosby said. “Repair is a Christian response to damage.”
Southern Seminary’s December report, which Mohler commissioned, disclosed that its founders owned more than 50 slaves and that past faculty believed in the “superiority of white civilization and that this justified racial inequality.” …
Mohler and Schmucker replied that the seminary has supported and educated black Baptist ministers and leaders “for service in the church” for decades and that “we acknowledge anew this responsibility.”
But Southern Seminary cannot partner with Simmons College due to conflicting theological beliefs, the two leaders told Phelps.
Simmons College has partnered with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which split from the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1990s over theological differences, such as the convention’s ban on female pastors.
Phelps, Cosby, et. al. aren’t the only ones seeking such a financial payout; earlier this year the Association of Black Seminarians demanded Princeton University allocate fifteen percent of its operating expenses endowment to slavery reparations.