Some Hope Departures of Black Pastors and Beth Moore from SBC Will Serve as ‘Wake-Up Call’ and Force Southern Baptists ‘to do Some Soul Searching’

Popular Bible teacher Beth Moore may be the most high-profile Southern Baptist to publicly cut ties with the conservative evangelical denomination in the last year, but she is not the only one to go.

Some say a string of recent departures should serve as a wake-up call for the Nashville-based network of churches.

“Southern Baptists need to do some soul searching of why so many African-American leaders have left and now why their most prominent woman leader has left,” said Ed Stetzer, a Southern Baptist pastor and executive director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center.

The Southern Baptist Convention goes to war with itself every few years and people tire of the infighting and public relations missteps, Stetzer said.

Southern Baptists are currently grappling with the influence of partisan politics and the treatment of women and people of color within the church. These major tension points contributed to Moore’s decision to leave as well as those of Black pastors like the Rev. Joel A. Bowman Sr., who announced in December that he was cutting ties with the convention.

Why Beth Moore is no longer a Southern Baptist

Moore, an advocate for victims of sexual abuse who received pushback for criticizing former President Donald Trump’s treatment of women, told the Religion News Service she is no longer a Southern Baptist.

She also has ended her longtime partnership with Lifeway Christian Resources, which is the convention’s publishing arm. Evangelical women have long embraced Moore, who founded Living Proof Ministries in Houston, Texas. Lifeway said it will still sell her work.

Moore cited white evangelicals’ confounding embrace of Trump among her reasons for going, the Religion News Service reported. But Moore holds out hope the convention will one day leave nationalism, political division and sexism behind.

Susan Codone praised Moore’s integrity. She called her departure an indictment of the current trajectory of the convention and its leadership. In recent years, Codone, a Southern Baptist sexual abuse survivor, has advocated alongside Moore for added protections and accountability amid the convention’s abuse crisis.

“Beth is not leaving Christ. She’s just leaving a toxic faith system that made it difficult for her to serve Christ and lead her ministry,” Codone said. “Anybody who believes that Beth needs the SBC really doesn’t trust Christ and his ability to use her.”

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SOURCE: Nashville Tennessean, Holly Meyer

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