Sarah and Southern Baptist silence


Vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin stirred up a lot of noise last night. Yet this highly-talked-about story during this most unusual political season seems to be getting the silent treatment from most Southern Baptists who typically weigh in on such issues.

Google up “sarah palin southern baptist” and one name dominates the screen. Richard Land, who purports to represent some 16 million fellow Southern Baptists before the Washington machinery, has expressed great glee since the Alaska governor was picked as Sen. John McCain’s running mate a few days ago.

Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy arm, is “ecstatic” according to Christianity Today and other sources.

His single measuring stick for politicians has always been a strict anti-abortion platform while ignoring, if necessary, other concerns that apply only to candidates who do not favor his narrow “family values” definition.

On the other extreme is Voddie Baucham, an African-American pastor and a popular speaker among Southern Baptists. Bob Allen, at ethicsdaily.com, reports that Baucham has called Gov. Palin the “anti-family pick.”

Baucham, pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas, charged that “Mrs. Palin is not even supposed to be the head of her own household.” It is a position that resonates with many current Southern Baptists, but is rejected as sexism by others — especially those outside the fundamentalist stream.

But where are the voices in between the full embrace (endorsement?) from Land and the sexist dismissal by Baucham? Why is Baptist Press, the SBC public relations arm disguised as news service, not carrying stories about Gov. Palin’s reception by key Southern Baptists?

Clearly the reason is that the Republican candidate for vice president creates a dilemma for most Southern Baptist leaders who embrace her ideology (her anti-abortion stance) but can’t imagine her assuming much more demanding professional responsibilities at this stage in life.

Of course, that “stage in life” is being the mother of five — including a special-needs child born in April and an unwed teen daughter who will deliver a baby in December. Such ambition doesn’t square with the definitions of “biblical manhood and womanhood” being heavily promoted within the SBC.

Yet for Southern Baptist leaders to publicly criticize the choices of Sen. McCain or Gov. Palin would be tantamount to promoting the candidacy of a Democratic ticket that is not aligned with Southern Baptist ideology and theology.

So, for once, and with few exceptions, the SBC leadership is strangely silent. Holding one’s tongue may be the only response to a real dilemma.

7 Comments

  1. Haven’t you heard – Land speaks for us all! Just kidding… I am an SBC pastor and have been looking in vain for prouncements from on high in regards to Palin -all I hear is the crickets!

  2. Gee, if a woman could lead the nation God has uniquely ordained to save the world, a woman might be capable of leading a local church.

    Too scary!!!

  3. What we are witnessing is a revelation among many so-called right wing evangelical republicans that many in their party that have supported “traditional” family values have done so as a political tool to garner support for economic and political agendas. I find it amazing that so many defend McCain’s pick of Palin and rush to accuse detractors as “sexist” and patronizing. After years and years of characterizing the core issue in the decline of the American family as being the ambition of women who want to work and find meaning outside the home, they are now embracing someone who decided to have five children (one just a few months old) and take on one of the most demanding jobs in public service at the same time. Palin’s choice given what has emerged about her family (a teenage unwed mother and a special needs infant) highlights the role that ambition plays in her decision to take on this challenge. Would we raise the same question if she were male? Probably not, but we should. I just cannot imagine how a parent decides to accept such an offer when you know it is going to place your child and her predicament in the national spotlight!
    For 25 years we have witnessed right wing fundamentalists in Southern Baptist life like Land push for returning women to more traditional roles. What Palin’s nomination and situation has exposed is that some place political orthodoxy above family values, and then try to justify their support at the expense of their commitment to families. The emperor has no clothes!

  4. The Sept. 4 issue of Baptist Press is out now and — surprise — no mention of Gov. Palin, her address or anything else related to the RNC.
    That’s odd since RNC and SBC meetings look and feel very much the same.
    I’m telling you, they (most SBC leaders) don’t know what to do with this situation. It’s lose/lose.
    But don’t doubt for a minute why Richard Land (alone) is so vocally supportive. He likes the political access that can come from his partisan support.

  5. The latest is either Pierard at ethcisdaily.com or Belmont’s David Waters is saying Land in coordination with Dobson is mounting an ill disguised 40 days of Revival to support the Palin effect, as a truth telling analysis at Huffingtonpost.com is calling it.
    The key lies with gettin Richard Jackson on the record, the man who baptized Cindy McCain.
    Jackson was victim in SBC politics of a jackal campaign, that now the Palin effect is calling in the dogs to mount with the abetting of Richard Land and Pressler’s Council for National Policy to run.
    Pray that Richard Jackson has the conviction and wisdom to SEE what is being done, and the courage to speak out. I think he can make a difference and righteously speak to the “Palin effect.”
    Will Baptists Today risk letting the likes of me or Bruce Prescott lay it out there in the October issue? Will Baps Today run the risk of alienating mainstream GOP Baptists donors if we speak our opinion of the truth.
    Can DAn Yeary handle it?

    Not only Richard Land this time around, but Richard Jackson as well and a review of the pivotal 1988 SBC election in the balance here.

  6. I always find your blog insightful, challenging, fun, yada, yada, yada. THANKS for your insight and objective approach to the truth.
    I was just at Wade Burleson’s site and found a link to an article from the Mohler/Dorothy counsel(whatever the name of that thing is…) that articulates their stance on God’s design for women in politics.
    I hope you’ll find it useful.
    Thanks again for your ministry!

  7. Richard Land spoke in my Pastoral Ministry class this morning at Southeastern Seminary, and I asked him about your comment that he was hypocritically using the Palin nomination to further his own political motivations. Since I didn’t remember your name beyond “Baptists Today,” he questioned the character and importance of an editor who can make accusations of hypocrisy and political motivations without calling and talking to him (Land) first to find out his information from the source. He said that Al Mohler had also voiced support for Palin’s nomination. He referenced his NPR interview this morning on the position of women in government, and said that we are talking about democracy, not theocracy. Palin is running for VP of the USA, not pastor of a church, and the NT has no command about women in government, only women in the church. He added that it was a personal issue between Palin and her husband in their marriage. If he supports her as her head of household, then there is no problem at all with it. And it is nobody’s business but theirs. He noted that Jesus Christ elevated women to equality in society, and he would have supported Margaret Thatcher for President if she had been an American.

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