Photo of Seminary Professors Posing as Gangster Rappers Stirs Controversy

FORT WORTH, Texas — Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) has issued a public apology over a photo featuring five seminary staffers posing as gangster rappers after the image stirred controversy on social media.

The men in the photo, all being from the seminary’s School of Preaching, had posed as a parting gift for Assistant Professor Vern Charette, who was known at SWBTS for his rap stylings. Charette was leaving his post to take a pastoral position.

“I want to send a shout out to my boys in northwest Tulsa, Oklahoma—all my pimps, players, thugs and hustlers, all my boys that are lockdown,” he states in one hip-hop concert video posted to YouTube. “I want you to know that there is an answer. His name is Jesus Christ.”

Posing for the picture memorializing Charette were David Allen, dean of the School of Preaching; Kyle Walker, the seminary’s vice president for Student Services and a professor of preaching; Barry McCarty, a preaching professor and chief parliamentarian for the Southern Baptist Convention; Deron Biles, a dean emeritus and a professor of pastoral ministries and preaching; and Matthew McKellar, an associate professor of preaching.

The seminary professors wore bandanas, hoodies, gold chains and sideways ballcaps—and one even sported a handgun. Above their heads, in graffiti fashion, read the words “Notorious S.O.P. (School of Preaching),” which was noted by the seminary as being a parody of the secular rapper Notorious B.I.G.

Allen shared the photo on Twitter, writing, “Why you should come study at the School of Preaching @swbts! Rap the word. Reach the world.” Charette also wrote about the picture that the men were “all true OG’s” meaning “original gangsters.” McCarty shared the image as well.

However, some became offended by the photo, stating that the professors’ apparel appeared to mock black rappers.

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“This is blatantly racist. Ya’ll should be ashamed of yourselves, especially considering your denomination’s history,” one commenter wrote.

“Grown adult men gathering together to take a picture and holding a gun no less. Stereotyping and being racist. It’s disgusting,” another opined.

Due to the controversy, the seminary asked that the photo be removed from social media. President Paige Patterson also released a lengthy explanation and apology over the matter.

“A gracious young Native American preacher on our staff does rap as a hobby. He preached a sermon recently in chapel in which he included a section of rap. I thought that it was great, and the students seemed responsive to it,” he wrote. “He has since accepted a pastorate; and, as part of his departure, his fellow professors wanted to awaken memories and in so doing to tease him. That is par for the course around here.”

“The president encourages our people to laugh at each other rather than to risk taking ourselves too seriously. But, as all members of the preaching faculty have acknowledged, this was a mistake, and one for which we deeply apologize,” Patterson said.

“Southwestern cannot make a moment of bad judgment disappear. But we can and will redouble our efforts to put an end to any form of racism on this campus and to return to a focus that is our priority—namely, getting the gospel to every man and woman on the earth.”

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  • ROFL Racists? Really? What race? Now, the gun was definitely in poor taste. That shouldn’t have been in the shot. That took it a bit far. The rest of it was cute though.

  • Coach

    The sad part is they care not that they are piling excrement on the name of Christ, but they apologize because it’s deemed racist.
    I’m glad people called this racist, but they need to be far more concerned with the God who will call such things into account.

  • Amos Moses

    What you win them with is what you win them to …….. /SMH ………..

  • Maybe some young guy should go and have a chat with them about their doctrine:
    But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:
    That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.

    • Amos Moses

      DOCTRINE Matters – The ESSENTIALS of christianity

      D – Diety of Christ
      O – Original Sin
      C – Canon
      T – Trinity
      R – Resurrection
      I – Incarnation
      N – New Creation
      E – Eschatology

  • Reason2012

    1 Corinthians 13:4-6 “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;”

  • InTheChurch

    I would not be scared of these “thugs” if they were out in some street. Look at them! Not a ounce of thug in them. LOL

  • PastorRon Aldridge

    I agree, in this day and time, it was an error in judgment but, I’m old enough to remember when people could kid others or make fun of themselves w/o offending anyone. People “used” to have a sense of humor and could laugh at others and themselves; no more. The mistake was not doing it (the prof. would’ve loved it, I’m sure) but, putting it out there for a PC society to critique.

    • Craig Ewoldt

      Thanks for the insight. “The mistake is not doing it, but putting out there for a PC society to critique.” And it saddens me to see other Christians responding with the name calling and demonization of what is otherwise intended to be good clean fun.

    • I agree 100%. The only thing I found in poor taste, actually a REALLY BAD judgement call, was the gun. I thought the old dudes looked cute. They were just sending their colleague off in a humorous manner as a guy, who is Indian by the way, who raps. I know most rappers are black but they don’t corner the entire market. Why is it wrong to be humorous for their friend & brother as they are sending him off? These days, it’s like climbing Mt. Everest in a huge snow storm just praying that each step will be safe & won’t cause an avalanche. We have to watch every single word we say in fear someone will be offended. It has gotten to a level of complete insanity. I’ve gotten to the point that I do well to say hi to people. I had even commented yesterday on this post & deleted that comment for fear of offending someone. Our culture has secularized and paganized Christianity & we’re under increasing attacks as being ‘intolerant racist bigots’ which couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s our job to make disciples, not demean & tear down. The attacks are going to intensify & we witness these in other countries already. It will become more difficult to stand for Christ. We are now reaching a point in our lives & in our nation where we will see ourselves ‘live’ in the pages of Scripture.

      “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.” Matt 24:10

      C. S. Lewis “We are to live like commandos behind the enemy lines, preparing the way for the coming of the Commander-in-Chief.”

    • jael2

      With all due respect Pastor, the problem lies much deeper than an error of judgment. There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun. A little humor can brighten the day.However, the larger realm of things, sobriety, holiness, and the fear of God, has taken a back seat in the majority of higher “Christian” education. The seminaries are filled with liberal educators. The burden for lost souls has been replaced with relativism. A burden for Christians around the world who are being persecuted and martyr, are met with a yawn. They will not speak up for the babies being murdered around the block ( sometimes next door) to their sanctuaries. No time for corporate prayer meetings. However, there seems to be an abundance of food, fun, and play.

      What our nation desperately needs more than these fun-loving professors, who are training more fun-loving pastors, are men of God, on their knees weeping between the porch and altar.

  • Craig Ewoldt

    Those who are most easily offended are certainly the most virtuous. Let’s all strive to be that most easily offended person. But wait a minute, Reason 2012, read what is not underlined–“is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.” It seems to me that Paul is saying that where no offence is intended, no offense is to be taken. So it is virtuous to think the best, not to imagine and look for offence.

  • Chet

    Wow. With America slowly circling the bottom and sides before altogether sliding down the sewer, what in the world would possess these men to act so stupidly, even in jest? Where is the concern for the myriad souls perishing daily and plunging into eternal Hell? Put away foolish jesting…

  • david

    If these men are saved, they should act like it. they should not behave like thugs, pimps or street crazies to garner attention towards themselves.

    • Craig Ewoldt

      Whoa. The Pharisees wouldn’t hold a candle to you, placing on us burdens we cannot bear. Maybe you feel much better than these men are for heaping on the (unjust) condemnation. The picture looks nothing like thugs, pimps or street crazies–just a bunch of guys having fun. I think the greater condemnation will be for the ill treatment of your Christian brothers.

  • jael2

    These “professors” are exactly why the SBC has become irrelevant in the preaching the true gospel of Jesus Christ. They have time for such foolishness, but wouldn’t lift one finger to rescue a child that is being led away to the slaughter ( abortion).