This morning, when I turned the page of the Houston Chronicle, I was confronted with a very sorry (but telling!) story about erasing women and women's issues again. The Southern Baptist Convention has pulled off of the shelves of its bookshops the latest issue of Gospel Today magazine. Why? Because it shows five women of the cloth on the front cover and "the statements that were in it took positions that were contrary to what we would say," according to Chris Turner, a spokesman for the SBC bookshops.
Really? And only a few days after the men of the Convention revised their position on women to make it possible for conservative Christians from the Convention to support and vote for the McCain-Palin ticket?
Remember ten years ago, when there was a hostile takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention? The result was the declaration that women's place was in the home, "to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation." She was not to be burdened with working outside the home, and was to happily embrace her duty as homemaker which was the backbone of our society. Only the husband should be vocationally oriented.
These were not just sexist words, they became a sexist policy that resulted in the purging of churches and seminaries of female leadership, including not only ministers but also professors who were fired along with any men who supported them. If you have never seen the documentary on this hostile takeover, "Battle for the Mind" by Steven Lipscomb (1997), it is well-worth the viewing time. In fact, it was a big inspiration for me to decide to begin writing next, Sex and the Serpent: Why the Sexual Conflicts of the Early Church Still Matter.
Enter Sarah Palin. Now the Southern Baptist Convention is in a pickle, unless its statement is reinterpreted in such a way that it denies what it declared to begin with. Robert Parham of "On Faith" reports that one SBC professor thus said, "the Baptist Faith and Message does not address the question of women in secular leadership, only spiritual leadership." Ahh, the secular loophole which allows Baptist men to vote Republication even though what Palin is doing is the opposite of their interpretation of women's roles according to the Bible. I wonder if this secular distinction means that all the women professors who lost their jobs will be reinstated in the seminaries too?
I don't even know what to say about the glass ceiling anymore. It doesn't look like glass to me, but cement.