The Southern Baptist Convention is to be commended on its recent election of an African American as its president. Hopefully, this represents a trend rather than an exercise in mere tokenism.
When the southern state delegations revolted and walked out of the Baptist Convention in Augusta, Ga., in 1845, they believed certain Scriptural passages, when taken literally, supported their views on slavery. Today Baptists seem just as sure about what the Bible says about women’s role in the church. This view, I might add, is also shared by the nation’s largest Christian denomination.
Although differing radically on such things as the acquisition of and the nature of salvation and the authority of the church hierarchy, Baptists and Roman Catholics share a remarkably similar authoritarian mind set. One bases their beliefs on an infallible Scripture, the other on an infallible papacy.
To their everlasting credit, a few years ago Southern Baptists apologized to African Americans for their former pronouncements on slavery. Will it take them another 150 years to apologize to women for denying them full participation in the church? It took the Catholic Church almost 400 years to apologize for persecuting Galileo for saying the earth revolved around the sun.
George B. Reed Jr., Fort Oglethorpe