Woman, Know Thy Role

By Elizabeth Ulrich

Nashville Scene

June 24, 2008

Well, we already know how the Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has dealt with women who have come forward with claims (and infallible proof, like paternity judgments) that they were sexually abused by SBC pastors as young girls. If you haven't read this story, here's a summary of the SBC response to victims' calls for help: “Abuse is sad. But because of that pesky matter of church autonomy, we can't remove predatory pastors from the pulpit. Please stop calling and emailing about your suffering. Our hands are tied, but we hear prayer heals all wounds. God bless.”

Now that the SBC's executive committee has spent a year coming up with reasons why they can't create an online database of pastors who have been convicted or credibly accused of sexual abuse, the boys club has a whole new question to tackle: Should the women folk be allowed to stand in the pulpit?

Per a new motion made at this month's SBC convention, the executive committee will now look into whether its constitution should be amended to ensure that churches with female senior pastors should be stripped of SBC affiliation. Should be interesting, seeing as how the SBC has refused to blackball churches whose male senior pastors have admitted to having sex with teenage members of their congregation.

Any guesses on how this one will turn out?