Hello! I'm Ashley.

I'm passionate about loving Jesus and partnering with my husband in bring the flavor of His kingdom to the world. I seek to do this through promoting truth-seeking expeditions, advocating gender equality, educating the Church on abuse, and aiding the rescue of men, women and children from spiritual, emotional and physical poverty.

When Will The Southern Baptist Convention Apologize To Women?

When Will The Southern Baptist Convention Apologize To Women?

In my research on sexism and gender equality in the Church, I have taken time to look at the similarities between sexist and racist ideologies. Sexism and racism are nuanced, but they have strong similarities. They often coexist in the same environments, and can be compounded into multiple layers of prejudice against a group or individual. Studies show that both sexism and racism (aggressive and benevolent) are rooted in the same prejudicial mindset of power and control, and usually exist together along with tendencies towards acceptance of authoritarianism (1).

I happened to come across the 1995 “Resolution On Racial Reconciliation” statement by the Southern Baptist Convention (2). This public apology was significant of the SBC’s efforts to begin amending the sin of prejudice they have committed as an institution against the African-American community. The SBC was in fact founded as a split from the northern baptist church in favor of racial discrimination in 1845 (3).

I think the apology was long overdue, being issued only a few short years ago. With that being said, a written apology will not undo the traumatic damage inflicted upon the African-American community. There is still much work to be done in ridding the church of racial prejudice and embracing full inclusion of the African-American community.

When I read the letter, I could not help but note the similarities between the racial sins being repented of and the sexist sins yet unrepented of by the Southern Baptist Convention. By replacing only a few words in the letter, this apology could have easily been written to the women whom the Southern Baptist Convention has systematically shown prejudice against through patriarchy, also known as “complementarianism”. Where racism exists, so does sexism and vice versa.

Below is the text from the 1995 apology statement. The bold substitutions are mine, but the text has been untouched otherwise. When I re-read the letter with the nouns replaced, it sent chills through my body.

Resolution On Racial Reconciliation On The 150th Anniversary Of The Southern Baptist Convention:

"WHEREAS, Since its founding in 1845, the Southern Baptist Convention has been an effective instrument of God in missions, evangelism, and social ministry; and

WHEREAS, The Scriptures teach that Eve is the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20), and that God shows no partiality, but in every nation [person] whoever fears him and works righteousness is accepted by him (Acts 10:34-35), and that God has made from one blood every nation of men [person] to dwell on the face of the earth (Acts 17:26); and

WHEREAS, Our relationship to African-Americans [women] has been hindered from the beginning by the role that slavery [patriarchy] played in the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention; and

WHEREAS, Many of our Southern Baptist forbears defended the right to own slaves [subject women], and either participated in, supported, or acquiesced in the particularly inhumane nature of American slavery [patriarchy]; and

WHEREAS, In later years Southern Baptists failed, in many cases, to support, and in some cases opposed, legitimate initiatives to secure the civil rights of African-Americans [women]; and

WHEREAS, Racism [Sexism] has led to discrimination, oppression, injustice, and violence, both in the Civil War [women's suffrage movement] and throughout the history of our nation; and

WHEREAS, Racism [Sexism] has divided the body of Christ and Southern Baptists in particular, and separated us from our African-American brothers and sisters; and

WHEREAS, Many of our congregations have intentionally and/or unintentionally excluded African-Americans [women] from [unrestricted] worship, membership, and leadership; and

WHEREAS, Racism [Sexism] profoundly distorts our understanding of Christian morality, leading some Southern Baptists to believe that racial [gender] prejudice and discrimination are compatible with the Gospel; and

WHEREAS, Jesus performed the ministry of reconciliation to restore sinners to a right relationship with the Heavenly Father, and to establish right relations among all human beings, especially within the family of faith.

Therefore, be it RESOLVED, That we, the messengers to the Sesquicentennial meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, assembled in Atlanta, Georgia, June 20-22, 1995, unwaveringly denounce racism [sexism], in all its forms, as deplorable sin; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we affirm the Bibles teaching that every human life is sacred, and is of equal and immeasurable worth, made in Gods image, regardless of race [sex] or ethnicity [gender] (Genesis 1:27), and that, with respect to salvation through Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for (we) are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28); and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we lament and repudiate historic acts of evil such as slavery [patriarchy] from which we continue to reap a bitter harvest, and we recognize that the racism [sexism] which yet plagues our culture today is inextricably tied to the past; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we apologize to all African-Americans [women] for condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism [sexism] in our lifetime; and we genuinely repent of racism [sexism] of which we have been guilty, whether consciously (Psalm 19:13) or unconsciously (Leviticus 4:27); and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we ask forgiveness from our African-American brothers and sisters, acknowledging that our own healing is at stake; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we hereby commit ourselves to eradicate racism [sexism] in all its forms from Southern Baptist life and ministry; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we commit ourselves to be doers of the Word (James 1:22) by pursuing racial [gender] reconciliation in all our relationships, especially with our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 John 2:6), to the end that our light would so shine before others, that they may see (our) good works and glorify (our) Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16); and

Be it finally RESOLVED, That we pledge our commitment to the Great Commission task of making disciples of all people (Matthew 28:19), confessing that in the church God is calling together one people from every tribe and nation [and sex] (Revelation 5:9), and proclaiming that the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is the only certain and sufficient ground upon which redeemed persons will stand together in restored family union as joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17)."

Let me be clear, the Southern Baptist Convention has yet to issue any such apology to the women they have systematically subdued, segregated, and in some cases oppressed with their patriarchal (complementarian) structure. In fact their “Basic Beliefs” (4) statement regarding women reeks of the same equal but separate language used in the blatant black and white segregation era.

Here’s to the great efforts being made by our egalitarian sisters and brothers to eradicate sexist language and teaching from the Southern Baptist Church and the Church at large. May it be in our lifetimes that women also receive a public apology letter for the grievances committed against them in the name of Christ. As stated in the letter, this apology is necessary not only for the healing of the affected women but also for the healing of the Church as a whole.

-Ashley Easter

Notes and Sources:

Note: This post is in no way intended to be disrespectful to the African-American community. The apology by the Southern Baptist Convention for their racist associations was needed and long overdue. Frankly, there is much work still to be done in the area of racial reconciliation in the Southern Baptist Church and in the Church at large. Much of the segregation and racist ideologies still exist overtly and covertly. Drawing similarities between racism and sexism is in no way intended to diminish the past and present suffering of those affected by racism in the Church but to highlight the common denominator, prejudice, a lust for power and control. May we continue to fight for equality on this front as well. Please take a moment to read these three articles detailing modern day racism in the Church. Black Dallas Theological Seminary Graduate Says School Told Him: 'We've Never Placed a Black Graduate to a White Church', Everything I Know about Racism I Learned in the Church and Confessions of a Black Lady Preacher: Why Can’t You Just Call Me Reverend?.

(1) Hostile and Benevolent Sexism: Relations with Self-Concept, Racism and Intercultural Sensitivity 2011; This study was originally written in spanish but can easily be translated to english via. widely available translation tools. For a short synopsis of the research findings in English click here

(2) Resolution On Racial Reconciliation On The 150th Anniversary Of The Southern Baptist Convention; Atlanta, Georgia - 1995

(3) Interview with Russell Moore by Christian Post, “The SBC was founded out of its support for slavery in a split with Northern Baptists prior to the Civil War.” 

(4) Basic Beliefs via. the Southern Baptist Convention

Hello, World!

Let me be clear, the Southern Baptist Convention has yet to issue any such apology to the women they have systematically subdued, segregated, and in some cases oppressed with their patriarchal (complementarian) structure. In fact their “Basic Beliefs” (4) statement regarding women reeks of the same equal but separate language used in the blatant black and white segregation era.

Here’s to the great efforts being made by our egalitarian sisters and brothers to eradicate sexist language and teaching from the Southern Baptist Church and the Church at large. May it be in our lifetimes that women also receive a public apology letter for the grievances committed against them in the name of Christ. As stated in the letter, this apology is necessary not only for the healing of the affected women but also for the healing of the Church as a whole.

-Ashley Easter

Notes and Sources:

Note: This post is in no way intended to be disrespectful to the African-American community. The apology by the Southern Baptist Convention for their racist associations was needed and long overdue. Frankly, there is much work still to be done in the area of racial reconciliation in the Southern Baptist Church and in the Church at large. Much of the segregation and racist ideologies still exist overtly and covertly. Drawing similarities between racism and sexism is in no way intended to diminish the past and present suffering of those affected by racism in the Church but to highlight the common denominator, prejudice, a lust for power and control. May we continue to fight for equality on this front as well. Please take a moment to read these three articles detailing modern day racism in the Church. Black Dallas Theological Seminary Graduate Says School Told Him: 'We've Never Placed a Black Graduate to a White Church', Everything I Know about Racism I Learned in the Church and Confessions of a Black Lady Preacher: Why Can’t You Just Call Me Reverend?.

(1) Hostile and Benevolent Sexism: Relations with Self-Concept, Racism and Intercultural Sensitivity 2011; This study was originally written in spanish but can easily be translated to english via. widely available translation tools. For a short synopsis of the research findings in English click here

(2) Resolution On Racial Reconciliation On The 150th Anniversary Of The Southern Baptist Convention; Atlanta, Georgia - 1995

(3) Interview with Russell Moore by Christian Post, “The SBC was founded out of its support for slavery in a split with Northern Baptists prior to the Civil War.” 

(4) Basic Beliefs via. the Southern Baptist Convention

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