National Black Evangelical Association Supports Rev. Dr. Jamal-Dominique Hopkins
The National Black Evangelical Association (NBEA), with its officers and associates, stand with our brother, Dr. Jamal-Dominique Hopkins, in his seeking vindication for what we believe is the unjust termination of his professorship at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, GA, on July 2nd of 2012.
The presiding power at this historical Black institution fired a Black evangelical prophet. Indeed, apparently without manifest justification or due recourse, the (ir)responsible decision-maker treated the Rev. Dr. Hopkins with dishonor, unprofessionalism, academic biases, and human indignity. The institution fails to redress the relevant issues and respect a fellow scholar who is the only known African-American authority in the area of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and who happens to be of an intentional "Black evangelical" persuasion.
To the best of our investigation, the NBEA has ascertained the following:
- ITC President Ronald Peters did not renew the contract for the professorship of Dr. Hopkins for the 2012 Fall Semester, even after having promoted him six months earlier from the position of assistant professor to associate professor;
- Against school policy the ITC President selectively changed grades of Hopkins' students without merit, or the knowledge or consent of Professor Hopkins;
- Those responsible administrators failed to give a timely hearing to the complaints and grievances of Dr. Hopkins;
- Professor Margaret Aymer appears to be the catalytic influence that instigated and/or orchestrated the firing of Dr. Hopkins, and did so presumably based on her intolerance of conservative and evangelical theological and biblical views, particularly as they are manifested in the areas of homosexual practices;
- Certain ITC professors and colleagues of Dr. Hopkins made a failed appeal to the party responsible for his termination to reverse the action, and renew his professorship.
Facts that support the above assertions, and other aspects of Dr. Hopkins' unwarranted termination, appear in public articles edited by sources that endeavor as best as possible to separate reliable information from opinion in their reporting. Personal dialog with Dr. Hopkins has served to reveal the underlying dynamics that affected his professorship and relationships at ITC over the years since his hiring in 2008.
The NBEA understands that Professor Hopkins has submitted his case to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). What Dr. Hopkins has experienced may have implications for the warning placed on ITC in December of 2011 by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the accrediting body of ITC. In addition, the American Association of University Professors has sought to mediate this matter with ITC, and to secure the fair treatment of Professor Hopkins in the areas of academic freedom and the professor's sole authority to change a student's grade. Further, we realize that Dr. Hopkins has retained legal counsel, and that litigation of certain issues may be pending, despite the good desire of Dr. Hopkins that negotiations will resolve the matter.
Even though the responsible bodies or agencies may resolve aforementioned matters surrounding the summary dismissal of Dr. Hopkins in their legal, academically credible, or employment dimensions, other issues remain. These dimensions evoke the theological, spiritual, and moral realms surrounding the employment of Dr. Hopkins at the ITC.
Issues in these realms raise crucial questions. In the theological realm, how can ITC, an institution that represents a major cross-section of black Church denominations, fire and ostracize a Black professor who holds conservative/evangelical views, when most churches of the African American experience similarly fall within this theological "evangelical" camp? Spiritually, when an atmosphere of repression against certain personal or professional spirituality exists on the ITC campus, how does the institution continue to serve the interests of black Christian unity, or the beliefs in the councilor model of historic African-descended Christian faith? What moral message does ITC's handling of Dr. Hopkins' professorship communicate to Black Church members in particular, and to the Christian community at large, about "justice" for "the least of these"? If justice is not equal or fair for all, then it is not genuine justice.
Up until the time of this writing, the ITC has handled the professorship affairs of Dr. Hopkins in such a manner that scandalizes academic and "First Amendment" freedom of speech, and that suppresses divine truth in unrighteousness. If the responsible powers of ITC fail to come clean in their dealings surrounding the professorship of Dr. Hopkins, then their failure will evince the continued degeneration of credible Christian theological higher education in the Black experience. The ITC has meant too much to too many constituents for us to witness its degeneration from within. The fallout is especially stark when stemming the academic deterioration of the institution falls within the grasp of its own power to change its own course concerning one of its own academic beacons.
To use biblical terminology, we believe that the Rev. Dr. Jamal-Dominique Hopkins is an important voice in the 21st-century Black Evangelical "school of the prophets." He represents well the prophetical tradition of the historical Jesus. He speaks strongly for the cause of biblical and cultural integrity. He speaks uniquely, if not singularly, to the Black academic excellence of scholarship in the Dead Sea Scrolls. He imparts a genuine spirituality in fellowship with God, and truth in love. It is most unfortunate that in the present academic climate, ITC treats Dr. Hopkins as "a prophet without honor."
The National Black Evangelical Association stands with Dr. Hopkins, one of our own. Our prayers remain with him and with those few of the ITC community who would show themselves prophets for righteousness, truth, and love.
Copyright © NBEA 2012 [Reprinted by permission.
[NATIONAL BLACK EVANGELICAL ASSOCIATION: Rev. Dr. Walter Arthur McCray; President, Rev. Russell L. Knight, 1st Vice-President; Honorable Barbara J. Pope, 2nd Vice-President; Ruth Lewis Bentley, Ph.D., Treasurer/Administrative Executive Director; Apostle Fred Robinson, Board Chair; Bishop George D. McKinney, Spokesperson; NBEA, POB 4311, Chicago, IL 60680-4311; 773-881-2455; www.the-nbea.org. www.nbea50thjubileeconvention.org.]