Atlanta Seminary Prof. Claims Being Anti-Gay Got Him Fired

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Monday September 17, 2012

A professor claims he was fired from a consortium of black seminaries in Atlanta because of his conservative Christian beliefs and his negative views on homosexuality, the Washington Post reported.

Rev. Jamal-Dominique Hopkins filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in July after he was let go from the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. Hopkins, a 42-year-old African American expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls, claims the ITC's officials harassed him. "Disagreeing with my conservative religious ideals, intimidating me, slandering my character, giving me poor evaluations, and changing student grades from failing to passing with no merit" are among the accusations.

Hopkins says problems first started after attendees at an event he organized were given anti-gay books that touted the message that homosexuality was a sin.

"It was primarily the book that created an issue," Hopkins told Religion News Service. The department chair, Rev. Margaret Aymer, soon confronted Hopkins about the book and administrators allegedly started to criticize his anti-gay views.

Hopkins' father, Joe Hopkins, is a California attorney and is representing his son. He told the RNS that the incident could turn into a lawsuit. "This is retaliation for standing up for his rights, bottom line," he said.

The ITC's president, Ronald Peters, responded to the incident on behalf of the consortium.

"The reality is that the non-renewal of Dr. Hopkins' contract had nothing to do with academic freedom or any efforts to infringe thereon," Peters wrote on Aug. 8. He also said that Hopkins' accusations are "disappointing remarks of a disgruntled former employee and are a misrepresentation of fact."

The ITC hired Hopkins in 2008. He rose to associate professor in February of this year. The school is primarily known for training African-American clergy. ITC had about 400 students enrolled during the 2011-2012 year.