“My grandmother and my two aunts were an exhibition in resilience and resourcefulness and black womanhood. They rarely talked about the unfairness of the world with the words that I use now with my social justice friends, words like "intersectionality" and "equality", "oppression", and "discrimination". They didn't discuss those things because they were too busy living it, navigating it, surviving it.”
― Janet Mock, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love So Much More link
(There is so much to write about and you may see a few more posts as we try to get caught up. Also, GBTC and I will be trying to revamp the blog this coming week now that I am feeling a bit better. Stay tuned.)
Well, this week the SBC decided to denounce white supremacy and the leaders are very proud of themselves for their leadership in racial relations. I am certainly glad that they don't support white supremacy but I think that the SBC has far deeper problems when it comes to race relations.
In 2008, Bob Allen of Ethics Daily wrote Report: LifeWay Pulls Magazine Featuring Women Preachers.
LifeWay Christian Stores reportedly pulled a Christian magazine from its racks because five smiling women on its cover are pastors."It is contrary to what we believe," Chris Turner, a spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention publishing house, which runs the nationwide chain, said in a story by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The newspaper said the September-October 2008 issue of Gospel Today, an "urban, faith-based" lifestyle magazine geared toward African-American Christians, could still be purchased in more than 100 LifeWay stores, but only from under the counter by request from a store clerk.
Female leadership within the African American church
As African Americans suffered under slavery and the days of Jim Crow, the black church was pivotal in maintaining faith and hope within the community. Women were the back bones of the church community.
In the book, Rhetorical Healing: The Reeducation of Contemporary Black Womanhood, Tamika L. Carey expands on this.
Christianity Today posted The Legacy of Women in the Black Church written by Tiffany Thomas, an African American preacher. She, too, addressed the pivotal role of the African American woman in the church.
Black women have a long and intricate history with the church. Women, making up 70 to 90 percent of black congregations, have always found the institution of the church a place of refuge, of solace and hope. As far back as African American history begins, during a time when their bodies were bound by the violence of slavery, black women gathered to worship communally a God who gave freedom and liberation in the salvific power of Christ.
The Civil Rights Movement, a movement that is inextricably bound to the African American church was primarily a movement of black women. While the great male leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. typically get the credit, it was women like Rosa Parks and Fannie Lou Hamer, and the tens of thousands of unnamed women who were at the March on Washington in 1963 who planned, participated, and even died for the movement.
…. I was unafraid to take on the mantle of leadership because of the women—the black women—who taught me to stand, to serve, and to testify. These women taught me to commit my life to the Lord and to the service of his Bride, the church. And when I stand in the pulpit, I stand with them. I stand for them. I stand on the shoulders of the women who are the propagators of the black church.
Adopting the model of patriarchy and the plantation as a symbol of respectability
Sadly, post slavery, some men within the black church, decided to structure the church based on *respectability* which they based on the roles modeled by white male leaders of the antebellum plantations.
However, it is still a fact that the black church is made up of, and reliant upon, women.
Why I believe this incident is both indicative of a racial and a gender issue within the SBC.
When this incident occurred, I called LifeWay to ask why they hid the magazine. The person with whom I spoke said that it was against SBC policy to have women pastors. I then asked why they didn't hide the October 2008 issue of Christianity Today. He didn't know what I was talking about. Let me show you. That CT issue featured Anne Graham Lotz in an article titled A Reverent Maverick : Anne Graham Lotz says her success is due to God. Yes. But she is still an extraordinary preacher. Here is the relevant quote.
She believes women can be ordained, but has chosen not to be.
The person with whom I spoke said "But she's Billy Graham's daughter!" I told him that it seemed to me that if a woman is white and famous, it is OK to support women pastors. However, if she is a racial minority and a pastor, it is fine to treat her story like it is pornorgraphy. There was no resolution to our conversation.
So, we know the SBC has no problem with Anne Graham Lotz supporting female pastors but is quite concerned when Black female preachers show up on the cover of a magazine. This is a kick in the teeth to the generations of women who held the black church together while the SBC was doing its darndest to stay segregated.
LifeWay and the SBC should have put that magazine in a place of honor and gotten down on their knees to thank God for these women who persevered against the evil history of segregation in the SBC. Until the SBC starts honoring women for the vital roles they have played in leading the church during the days of slavery and Jim Crow, the resolution denouncing white supremacy will ring hollow for me.