Seminary's 'journey of repair' costing it millions in reparations

Friday, October 25, 2019
Bob Kellogg, Jody Brown, Steve Jordahl (

Princeton Theological SeminaryA black student group at a small Presbyterian seminary in New Jersey has been given $27 million in slavery reparations by the school – but the group's response was that's "a great start, but not enough."

The Association of Black Seminarians at Princeton Theological Seminary negotiated with the school for dozens of scholarships for descendants of slaves or minority students, the creation of a new Center for Black Church Studies, a new professor, the naming of several buildings – all costing $27.6 million. But the private school's black student group is nowhere near satisfied. Now they're asking for another $120 million.

Dr. Alex McFarland, former president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in North Carolina, says the school never should have bowed to the group in the first place.

"It's really a type of extortion masquerading as some alleged moral high ground, which it is not," McFarland begins. "Princeton [Theological Seminary] is going to find out when you … negotiate in a hostage situation, you really put yourselves at the mercy of the captors. Hostage demands are never enough."

The Association said in a statement that "true repentance would require the institution to give back at least what has been unjustly acquired." The seminary's own research estimates that about 15 percent of its current endowment – which would be roughly $147 million – is tied somehow to slavery.


"To put a dollar sign on what they define as true repentance, Jesus would say – as he said to the Pharisees of his day – 'You have your reward,'" McFarland tells OneNewsNow. "Let's just hope these Princeton seminarians have limited influence and a limited amount of time to inflict theological damage on the souls of people."

According to, a two-year historical audit found that the school never owned slaves and that slave labor wasn't used to build the campus – but the seminary did take money from donors and invested in Southern banks in the mid-19th century that profited from slavery.

The school's response to that audit, says Seminary president M. Craig Barnes, "is the beginning of our community's journey of repair as we seek to redress historic wrongs and to help the Seminary be more faithful to our mission as a school of the church, both now and in the years to come."

It's just plain 'too late'

Deroy Murdock of the Project 21 Black Leadership Network thinks reparation payments are a bad idea because they're practically unworkable.


"… You have a lot of white folks who came to this country … through Ellis Island in the 1890s [and early] 1900s. Why should they be on the hook for something for which they were not involved?" he asks. "Their families at the time we had slavery in the United States of America were in England, Ireland, Poland, etcetera."

Murdock says it's too far in the past for the seminary – or any entity, for that matter – to offer compensation to people now.

"It is way too late to have any sort of system of justice for where the people who were victims of slavery actually can be compensated by the perpetrators of slavery," he argues. "If that's what we want to do, it needed to happen in the 1880s, 1890s, [early] 1900s."

Murdock's alma mater, Georgetown University, has announced it is launching a $400,000 slavery reparations fund.

11/8/2019 - Comments from Deroy Murdock added.


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