#MeToo strikes Southern Baptist Convention, delegates to approve resolution admitting male church members 'abused women'
Reports state that a coalition of women, several of whom are reportedly Southern Baptists, intend to rally outside the hall where the annual meeting is scheduled to take place.
America's largest evangelical denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, will face a reckoning over its treatment of women throughout the church's history. The showdown marks the broadening of the #MeToo movement, and which will have far-reaching consequences for the church.
Reports state that at the institution's annual meeting in Dallas next week, the delegates of the church — who are called "messengers" — will decide if they would approve a resolution admitting that male leaders and members of the church "wronged women, abused women, silenced women, objectified women."
The president of the flagship Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Albert Mohler, last month wrote: "The #MeToo moment has come to American evangelicals. And I am called to deal with it as a Christian, as a minister of the Gospel, as a seminary and college president, and as a public leader."
The meeting of the convention is being held after reports of multiple scandals where prominent Southern Baptists leaders have been accused of or have admitted to either harassing women or acknowledging inappropriate behavior toward them.
A key evangelical teacher in Houston, Beth Moore, wrote an open letter last month on the same issue and said: "Many women have experienced horrific abuses within the power structures of our Christian world."
Reports state that a coalition of women, several of whom are reportedly Southern Baptists, intend to rally outside the hall where the annual meeting is scheduled to take place next week. The organizers said that the women will protest the "prevalence of abuse and its enablement within the Southern Baptist Convention."
In a recent instance, Paige Patterson, a pre-eminent figure in the denomination's conservative resurgence in recent decades, was fired by the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth after he was accused of counseling a female student to not report another student who had raped her at a seminary he was leading in 2003. Patterson was appointed the seminary's president in 2003, according to reports.
The seminary board, while calling for Patterson's removal, also cited his history of remarks about women in general. Patterson, during a sermon in 2014, had described telling a woman that her son's "ogling" of an attractive teenager girl was an appropriate "biblical response. The board, citing this instance, said that boy's behavior was in fact "antithetical to the core values of our faith," CNBC reported.
Patterson, in his defense, released a statement saying: "I do not believe there is a woman or girl ever associated with me who would allege any abuse on my part." However, no one has seemingly made that allegation yet.
Patterson's removal came shortly after the resignation of Frank Page in March as the president and chief executive of the Southern Baptist Convention's executive committee. Page resigned after an incident which the church described as a "morally inappropriate relationship in the recent past," reports state.
A teaching pastor at Highpoint Church, Andy Savage, also resigned in March from the position after he admitted that he had been involved in an inappropriate "sexual incident" with an underage high school student 20 years ago when he was a youth minister at a large Southern Baptist church near Houston.