A Little Palin Droning
With Sarah Palin’s likeness currently sharing the tabloid covers with the latest exclusive pics of Hitler duck hunting in Arkansas, I can hardly believe that just a couple of days ago I was reading that Palin’s selection as John McCain’s running mate has convinced the Religious Right to finally hop aboard the Johnny Mac Express. “That,” I remember thinking at the time, “depends on who the religious right really is.”
Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religion Liberties Commission gushed that Palin is "straight out of veep central casting." Land even claimed he urged the McCainiacs s to give her a look-see. This is interesting since Palin's church, the Assemblies of God, ordains women as ministers while the SBC does not. In fact, when the group’s annual conclave declared in 2000 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," it was Land himself who explained "We, as Baptists, are people of the Book. . . . Most Christian traditions, in most places, in most of the centuries of the Christian faith, have understood that the office of pastor is to be filled by a man."
Just in case you might be thinking that the SBC’s stance on women in the pulpit applies only to the affairs of the church and not the affairs of the world, take a gander at the more far-ranging 1984 resolution on which the 2000 statement is based: “While Paul commends women and men alike in other roles of ministry and service (Titus 2:1-10), he excludes women from pastoral leadership (1 Tim. 2:12) to preserve a submission God requires because the man was first in creation and the woman was first in the Edenic fall (1 Tim. 2:13ff).” If you require further evidence of how extensively some Southern Baptists use weak-willed ol’ Eve’s taking the first bite of the apple to justify the proverbial glass ceiling, how about the response of Dr. Paige Patterson, President of Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Ft. Worth (and former Southern Baptist Convention president) to a lawsuit challenging his institution’s policy against women teaching theology to men? “ This,” Patterson insisted, “is not a question of occupation. It is a question of an assignment from God, in this case that a woman not be involved in a teaching or ruling capacity over men."
Richard Land’s professed eagerness to position someone whom he would not allow to take the pulpit in his church only a prune pit in the windpipe away from the most powerful position in the world is all too typical of the hypocritical and reckless political opportunism of the Religious Right’s main mouthpieces.
But what about the rank and file of the SBC flock? Out of roughly seventeen million Southern Baptists, how many are actually sincerely inclined to think St. Paul trumps a not-so-saintly John the non-Baptist? Palin’s stand against abortion may prove a mitigating factor here, but if I am to believe that Hillary Clinton’s gender undercut her effort to win her party’s nod, I don’t feel I am going too far out on a limb to suggest that whether it’s rooted in religious doctrine or simply in plain pure-tee ol’ meanness and ignorance, there’s probably at least as much sexism afoot among the Repubs as among the Dems. Although the McCain camp obviously thought choosing Palin might win over some of the still seriously chapped off Hillary women, this bunch generally seems madder now at McCain than Obama because they are insulted by the GOP strategists’ apparent presumption that their votes could be secured simply by picking a running mate—any running mate, even an anti-abortion one—of the female persuasion. So far, it seems to me that the women who are genuinely enthusiastic about Palin are mostly GOP conservatives who had heretofore been lukewarm at best about Johnny Mac. At this point, instead of hurling the stones that would be filling the air if a high-profile Demo daughter had turned up preggers, the “Jesus-Loves-Me-But –He-Can’t –Stand-You” crowd is showering the scandal and rumor-beset Guv with the understanding and forgiveness they reserve exclusively for themselves. Ironically, however, if the shoes keep on droppin’ in Juneau and Wasilla, and McCain winds up accepting “with deepest regret” her entirely voluntary decision to step aside in the interest of party and country, his new girlfriends on his right will suddenly be on his back and at his throat.
This post expands on parts of an earlier one at http://cobbloviate.com
Ralph M. Hitchens - 9/4/2008
Of course every Biblical scholar worth his/her salt knows that the Pastoral Letters, which include Titus and Timothy 1, were not written by Paul, but composed long after his death by anonymous followers of the Pauline branch of early Christianity. The SBC had to dig deep to justify its suppression of women; the teachings of Jesus certainly had nothing to do with it.
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