Gendered Baptists

Reading through Catherine Brekus, ed., The Religious History of American Women, discussed further below, reminded me of the case of Sheri Klouda, recently fired from her position as professor of Hebrew at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The irony of it is that this may be the straw, or at least one straw, that broke the back of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) leadership; in a remarkable series of posts, Oklahoma conservative Baptist Wade Burleson blogged about this case and kept it in the news last winter and spring. The orthodox SBC conservatives (including Burleson, who remains proud of driving "liberalism"--his term for what religious historians would refer to as "moderately conservative and mainstream evangelicalism" -- out of the SBC over the last twenty years) appear to be splintering in a pattern remarkably parallel to the (possible) fracturing of the national conservative political coalition.

Paige Patterson, president of the seminary, apparently stirred up quite a storm on this one -- but a storm from his erstwhile allies in the so-called "conservative resurgence." They were quiet when Molly Marshall and others were purged from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, perhaps because the victims in this case could be tagged and and thus exiled as "liberals," but the combination of Klouda's orthodox views and the straitened circumstances of her family made this purge look especially Stalinist.

The story received widespread coverage last winter/spring (back in my halycon pre-blog days). This latest ideological purge in the SBC is out of the news now, but readers of the blog can pick back up on the story from the standpoint of an outraged insider conservative.

In the latter portion of my book Freedom's Coming, I suggested that "gender has supplanted race as a defining principle of god-ordained hierarchy." If I did not feel so badly for Professor Klouda, I might thank President Patterson for so nicely exemplifying my thesis.