End Sexist Discrimination Against Women in Baptist Churches

Target: Bart Barber, President of Southern Baptist Convention

Goal: Stop punishing churches for allowing women in leadership positions.

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has expelled two of its member churches, one of which has the second biggest congregation in the SBC. What was the reason for these expulsions: allegations of sexual abuse or another major ethical infraction? These churches’ great offense was that they dared allow women into leadership positions.

Baptist leaders were responsible for these expulsions, which they claim goes against dictates that “only qualified men” can serve as pastors or in other leadership roles. One of the expelled churches, Fern Creek Baptist, has allowed the same female pastor to serve for over three decades, but somehow now in this ultra-politicized culture war atmosphere it has become an issue. And the fact that the other affected organization, Saddleback Church, has opened its doors to female pastors may be one of the driving reasons why it has defied recent congregational trends by bolstering its membership. Women should feel included and accepted in their places of worship.

The SBC, however, is currently mulling plans to double down on its rigid stance. Sign the petition below to urge this major religious influencer to rethink its approach to equality inside and outside the church.


Dear Mr. Barber,

From the Virgin Mary to Mary Magdalene, women have always occupied an important place in Christianity. Their contributions and impact should be valued, not belittled. The decision to begin implementing a policy of rejection and exclusion towards females in leadership positions after decades of acquiescence and inaction seems more a move born of politics than sincere belief.

Other religions are criticized, including by leaders of your own convention, for their perceived mistreatment of women. What kind of example is the SBC setting in kind with its expulsion of Saddleback and Fern Creek Baptist Churches? Saddleback in particular represents one of this convention’s increasingly sparse success stories with its growing congregation. This church’s inclusivity and emphasis on equality is a major reason for its growth. If you wish for the SBC to continue moving forward for generations to come, do not roll back this progress.

In the wake of this decision, Saddleback founder Rick Warren stated that “there are people who want to take the SBC back to the 1950s when white men ruled supreme and when the woman’s place was in the home. There are others who want to take it back 500 years to the time of the Reformation. I say we need to take the church back to the first century. The church at its birth was the church at its best.” The church at its best was a time when men and women worshipped and served fully and equally.

You are at a crossroads. Will this decision stand alongside the SBC’s one-time stance on slavery, or will it be an opportunity for something better and truly Christian? Do not strangle the future of the Baptist church by codifying the rigid, regressive stance regarding women and religious leadership.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Luis Quintero


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  2. It was the Roman Catholic Church that excluded women from church leadership roles. During the early centuries of Christianity, women held positions of leadership in churches – e.g. in the Celtic Churches.

    Will you follow the RC path, and prevent marriage of church leaders, too? That would be no more logical!

    Give thanks to the Lord for blessing these congregations, and others, with women who are able and willing to reach out into communities to serve them better.

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