Bible teacher Beth Moore has arguably created space for women within the Southern Baptist Convention that didn’t exist before. So what happens to those women now that Moore has announced she’s leaving the denomination?
Some of them are following her out the door. Some of them, as Kate Shellnutt writes for Christianity Today, are waiting to see how pastors treat Moore’s decision before they decide their own fate.
As one Southern Baptist women’s ministry leader tweeted on Wednesday, “Pastors, I hope you are watching women in the SBC and their response to Beth Moore …”
Many fellow Southern Baptist women were sad but not surprised that she decided to leave the SBC. The women who followed in her high-heeled footsteps know the tensions Moore walked through too well, dismayed at how issues like abuse, racism, Christian nationalism, and the Trump presidency were dividing the denomination rather than deepening its gospel witness — all issues that came up in a recent Religion News Service story about her decision.
Christine Hoover, a Bible teacher and SBC pastor’s wife, remembers asking herself, “If Beth is treated so disdainfully in public arenas, what is being said privately, and what does that say about how, in practice, the SBC values the contribution of women to the kingdom?”
“I can’t overstate how much of an impact Beth has had on women in our churches,” Hoover said. “I was in rooms in those years with SBC female leaders from all corners of the convention who said they, too, were paying close attention, most of us wondering if we as women actually have an honored place in the SBC.”
Many other Christian women, some of them also high-profile, have taken to Twitter to celebrate Moore’s courage in leaving — something that isn’t simply for show because it also impacts the kind of money she would make in SBC churches or via the Christian publishing industry:
I have deep love and respect for @BethMooreLPM. She let me know this was coming because she is human, and she loves others fiercely. As I think about our tendency to analyze and tear each other apart, I hope we'd resist it here and instead pray. https://t.co/iWPHEPX74J
— Trillia Newbell (@trillianewbell) March 9, 2021
Thank you, @BethMooreLPM for the light you carry, for the compassion that drives you, for the steadfastness that marks you. I wouldn’t be teaching today if I hadn’t seen you do it first. I might have given up if I hadn’t seen you persevere. What a debt we owe you.
— Jen Wilkin (@jenniferwilkin) March 10, 2021
I have, for years enjoyed Beth Moore's teaching real scholarly Biblical study instead of the fluff usually handed to women as "Bible Study". To hear that she has taken this stand is so heartening to me. I appreciate and respect her more than ever.
— Ginger Rogers (@GingerR89226564) March 12, 2021
Truth-telling women, unafraid of the institution, willing to lose so much for what is right. Their stories shake the old grounds.
Women of valor.
— Annie F. Downs (@anniefdowns) March 10, 2021
We are in a reformation. Time for a rethink of everything and a rebuild on the rock who is Jesus. Congrats @bethmoore for choosing love over fear. The Kingdom marches on and the gates of hell will not stand. �����
— Danielle Strickland (@djstrickland) March 9, 2021
The men running the SBC may congratulate themselves for being rid of a so-called heretic, but time will tell just how far the ripple effects of Moore’s departure will go. As of now, it’s not looking good for them.