The Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, follows reporting that shook the faith community. In The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News, victims described widespread sexual abuse by Southern Baptist clergy and employees.
One key takeaway from their reporting?
Some registered sex offenders returned to the pulpit. Others remain there, including a Houston preacher who sexually assaulted a teenager and now is the principal officer of a Houston nonprofit that works with student organizations, federal records show. Its name: Touching the Future Today Inc.
But sex abuse isn’t the only difficulty facing the faith community. A heated debate is also brewing on the issue of female preachers. Some advocates for women in the church say attitudes are outdated.
The women rallying outside the SBC meeting in Birmingham are linking the failure of Southern Baptist church leaders to move more forcefully against abusers in their ranks to what they call “the low view of women” in the church, saying it has contributed to “a culture that is friendly to abusers.”
Southern Baptist churches are not supposed to ordain women, and they are discouraged from allowing women to preach, at least on worship days. That policy derives from the philosophy of “complementarianism,” which holds that …men and women have different but complementary roles in the church, as outlined in the Bible.
A prominent Southern Baptist author and teacher, Beth Moore, has pushed the limits of what a woman can do in the church by speaking repeatedly on Sundays, thus inviting angry reactions from some male church leaders. Josh Buice, pastor of an SBC church in Georgia, went so far as to write a blog post, “Why the SBC Should Say ‘No More’ to Beth Moore.”
We talk about the possibilities for change within the Southern Baptist church.
Produced by Avery J.C. Kleinman.
Tom Gjelten, Correspondent (Religion and Belief), NPR; @tgjelten
Jerusha Neal, Assistant professor of Homiletics, Duke Divinity School; ordained American Baptist minister
Dwight McKissic, Senior pastor, Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas; @pastordmack
Tom Ascol, President, Founders Ministries; pastor, Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida; @tomascol
For more, visit https://the1a.org.
© 2019 WAMU 88.5 – American University Radio.