Support for Slave Reparations Will Hasten Demise of Presbyterian Church

The Presbyterian Church (USA), the nation’s leading Presbyterian congregation, is helping to advance the absurd agenda of the slave reparations movement which demands that whites compensate African Americans for the suffering of their slave ancestors.

Many politicians, city councils, and organizations, such as the NAACP, have already signed onto this latest excuse for another government entitlement program. The Presbyterians are one of the key “mainline” Protestant denominations lending its name to this dubious cause.

In so doing, the Presbyterian Church (USA) will only accomplish two things – none of them good. It will help legitimize the immoral agenda of a movement that would force innocents to pay money to people who are not even victims. And, it will accelerate the decline of the Presbyterian Church (USA) into irrelevancy.

Calls for slave reparations began in the 1960s. Since 1989, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has been pushing a bill asking Congress to establish a commission to study reparations proposals for African-Americans. The Conyers bill doesn’t explicitly call for a reparations entitlement but it is a first step in making the issue a legislative priority. Conyers wisely doesn’t put a dollar figure on a potential reparations payout. Demands for reparations often reach into the trillions of dollars.

Besides the illogic of spending huge sums of money to pay for work performed by long-dead generations, reparations would only worsen race relations. Notes black economist Dr. Walter Williams, “To force whites today, who were not in any way responsible for slavery, to make payments to black people…will create nothing but resentment.”

The Presbyterian Church (USA) first got involved in the reparations issue in 1969 when civil rights activist James Forman issued a “Black Manifesto” at the church’s General Assembly calling on all denominations to compensate blacks.

It wasn’t until recently, though, that the Presbyterians really jumped on the reparations bandwagon. In 2001, the General Assembly created a task force to study the “issue of reparations to groups subjected to vast injustices” including African Americans, Native Americans, and others.

But it quickly became apparent that the reparations issue was only a priority for the leadership. Rank-and-file members want nothing to do with this foolishness.

In 2003, the church conducted a survey of members, lay leaders and ordained ministers to gauge their opinion of slave reparations. The response was overwhelmingly negative. Only 36 percent of members and 38 percent of pastors even considered the issue of any importance. More than 50 percent of each group said reparations was “not too important or not at all important to them personally.”

Asked what they thought about the federal government establishing a reparations program, large majorities – 85 percent of members, 86 percent of lay leaders and 60 percent of pastors – believed the federal government should not “pay money to African Americans whose ancestors were slaves.”

In addition, the membership did not believe churches should waste their time considering the “merits” of the issue. The survey reported that 57 percent of members and 52 percent of pastors opposed the idea that the “Presbyterian Church (USA) should ‘develop discussion resources for congregations on reparations.’”

So how did the church hierarchy respond to this emphatic rejection of slave reparations? It pushed the issue even more aggressively. At the 216th General Assembly in 2004, the Task Force to Study Reparations released a report calling on “congregations, governing bodies…and other Presbyterian Church (USA) entities to create opportunities for discussion…on issues of reparations and reconciliation.” The task force also ordered the General Assembly Council to pursue the issue and report on its efforts at the next General Assembly meeting in 2006.

This is precisely why the Presbyterian Church (USA) is rapidly losing members. Church leaders are committed to pursuing reparations, as well as other left-wing fads, while everyday church-goers just want to worship the orthodox faith. In 2003, the Presbyterian Church (USA) reported that membership totaled 2.4 million, a sharp decline from 4.2 million in 1983.

Church leaders argue that they aren’t losing members to other churches but to “the secular society.” Not true. Presbyterian Churches that remain true to Christian orthodoxy, such as the Presbyterian Church in America and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, are growing, due in part to disillusioned exiles from the Presbyterian Church (USA).

This is what happens when a “mainline” Protestant denomination abandons the traditional faith and embraces liberal causes such as the ordination of homosexuals and same-sex marriage.

The slave reparations issue may be the straw that breaks the back of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Church leaders apparently ignored the fact that the year they planned to increase their support for reparations, 2003, the Presbyterian Church (USA) lost more than 46,000 members – its highest percentage loss in more than 25 years.