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Theology of Baptist seminary's lament: Slavery is the headline, but a few media reports mention sin

Theology of Baptist seminary's lament: Slavery is the headline, but a few media reports mention sin

In inside-the-Beltway speak, by releasing an extensive report on its racist past, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., decided to “hang a lantern” on its problem. (It’s a term that readers of Chris Matthews’ “Hardball” will understand.)

In other words, Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s oldest educational institution, wanted part of the story to be about how blunt and candid the seminary was in acknowledging its historic sins.

The basic point is that when something is really bad, you want to be the person who tells the public that it's really bad. 

Mohler did that Wednesday in releasing a report that has drawn — and rightly so — extensive national media coverage.

The lede from the New York Times:

The first and oldest educational institution of the Southern Baptist Convention disclosed in a report Wednesday that its four founders together owned more than 50 slaves, part of a reckoning over racism in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

The 71-page report released by the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is a recitation of decades of bigotry, directed first at African slaves and later at African-Americans. Beginning with the founding of the seminary in Greenville, S.C., in 1859, the report found that the school, with few exceptions, backed a white supremacist ideology.

“The moral burden of history requires a more direct and far more candid acknowledgment of the legacy of this school in the horrifying realities of American slavery, Jim Crow segregation, racism, and even the avowal of white racial supremacy,” wrote R. Albert Mohler Jr., the president of the seminary, which is now in Louisville, Ky.

Over at the American Conservative, blogger Rod Dreher praised Mohler for the release of the report:

I have an immense amount of respect for Albert Mohler and the institution he leads, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, for having commissioned a hard-hitting report looking into the seminary’s racist past. This is a profoundly Christian act of historical reflection and repentance. Read the report and Mohler’s cover letter here. 

But the Times’ coverage — like that of most other mainstream news reports that I saw — lacked any mention of the theological angle.

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After 'scheduled maintenance,' Energizer Baptist Al Mohler back in the news

After 'scheduled maintenance,' Energizer Baptist Al Mohler back in the news

The Babylon Bee — the fake religion news website — keeps making me laugh.

My favorite satire of the last week was the Bee's report that the Southern Baptist Convention's Energizer bunny — Al Mohler — would go offline for "scheduled maintenance."

Regular GetReligion readers — not to mention anyone who pays attention to religion news — are familiar with Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

Mohler, who hosts “The Briefing,” a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview, is a favorite go-to source for reporters — and I'm no exception. I interviewed him recently on politics and churches for Christianity Today's ChurchLawandTax.com.

Today, Mohler is a key voice in an in-depth NPR report on some evangelicals digging in — and others adapting — on culture war issues.

The NPR piece qualifies as mildly interesting. For me, it doesn't cover a whole lot of new ground. Of course, I follow these issues on a daily basis. The report might hold more appeal for a general audience.

From a journalistic perspective, it provides a fair measure of balance, quoting both traditionalists and progressives. Mohler, in particular, figures heavily on the side intent on standing firm:

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In coverage of evangelical conference on homosexuality, why's it all about the protesters?

In coverage of evangelical conference on homosexuality, why's it all about the protesters?

Is it just me, or does media coverage of that evangelical seminar on homosexuality and transgenderism seem to be all about the protesters?

In fact, USA Today — for a while — had this whopper of a headline:

Activists protest Baptists' seminar on gay therapy

What's wrong with that headline? It's totally inaccurate.

Gay therapy is not the focus of the seminar, and organizers spoke out against that approach, as we noted the other day. 

The seminar drew 2,300 church-based counselors, but are they the focus of USA Today's lede (the report is an edited version of a story that first appeared in the Louisville Courier-Journal, a Gannett sister paper)?

Nope, it's all about the protesters:

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