The Southern Baptist Convention is losing members for the first time ever. Jimmy Carter left the Baptist church because of its discrimination against women, and some believe that this discrimination may play a role in the overall exodus from the Baptist church.
In an opinion piece published in the London Observer, former president Carter wrote,
So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service. This was in conflict with my belief – confirmed in the holy scriptures – that we are all equal in the eyes of God.
An article published by Southern California Public Radio describes the attitudes of Baptists toward women teachers and professors:
Baptist churches are independent and can hire anyone they want, but if they hire a woman, they run the risk of being "disfellowshipped" — kicked out of the convention.
Richard Land, a senior officer of the SBC, says the reason is simple.
"We believe that the Bible says that while both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture," Land says.
Land is referring to the New Testament letters of the Apostle Paul, who said women should not have authority over men in the church and the home. The Baptists reaffirmed that teaching in 2000.
The article goes on to describe an episode at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, where a professor was denied tenure for being a woman. The seminary is now cultivating home-making and home-schooling types of programs for women in the seminary.