Boston Clergy Urge ‘White Churches’ to ‘Atone’ for Slavery with Millions in Reparations

A group of activist clergy is demanding that white churches in Boston with historical ties to slavery “publicly atone” by paying millions in reparations to the city’s black residents. The grassroots Boston People’s Reparations Commission held a press event at Resurrection Lutheran Church in the Roxbury neighbourhood recently. Multiple clergy members suggested that some of Boston’s churches should “confess to their complicity” in slavery and pay up. The group fired off a letter signed by 16 black and white clergy to churches they believed should be held financially responsible for centuries of discrimination in the wake of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The Rev. John Gibbons, a Unitarian who pastors Arlington Street Church in Boston, claimed that since the beginning of the 17th century, “all of our colonial churches were founded on the profits of slavery.” “Colonial ministers were among the most likely to have enslaved servants,” he noted. Edwin Sumpter of the commission described the money black Bostonians should be getting as “incalculable.”

“It is impossible to put any dollar number on what African Americans have gone through in this country,” he said. The Rev. Kevin Peterson, who founded the commission and also heads the New Democracy Coalition, said that “any of the well-known white churches in downtown Boston are connected to the slave trade and the proliferation of what was a ‘slavocracy’ in our city.” “We call sincerely and with a heart filled with faith and Christian love for our white churches to join us and not be silent around this issue of racism and slavery and commit to reparations,” he said. “We point to them in Christian love to publicly atone for the sins of slavery, and we ask them to publicly commit to a process of reparations where they will extend their great wealth — tens of millions of dollars among some of those churches — into the Black community,” he added. Peterson previously called for Boston to rename its famous Faneuil Hall Marketplace because of merchant Peter Faneuil’s ties to slavery in the 1700s.

He was also successful in eliciting an apology from the City of Boston for its complicity with slavery, leading to the formation of its 10-member Boston Reparations Task Force in 2022. The task force was enjoined to study the historical impact of slavery on the city, receive feedback from residents and provide recommendations for “reparative justice solutions for Black residents,” according to The Boston Herald. “Even after Massachusetts outlawed slavery, our region continued to benefit from the labour of enslaved people,” Democratic Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said last year. “That legacy formed deep, painful and lasting systems of exclusion and inequity that persist to this day.” The commission called on Boston to pay out $15 billion in reparations to black residents, including $5 billion in immediate cash payments, according to The Boston Herald. The activists also demanded $5 billion for education and anti-crime initiatives and another $5 billion for economic development.

Source: Christian Post

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