Always blame women when things go badly. That’s the first rule of thumb for Southern Baptist fundamentalists.

Who caused the horrendous sex abuse scandal at the Abu Ghraib prison?

The implicit answer is women in the military, according to a Baptist Press column, which picked up the emerging theme among right-wing columnists that argues against women in the military.

The BP column highlighted the role of Pfc. Lynndie England, who has been seen in pictures around the world smiling, giving the thumbs-up sign, pointing at a naked man’s genitals and holding a dog lease around the neck of an Iraqi prisoner.

England’s actions, the columnist suggested, are the result of accomplishments of the aggressive feminists of the 1970s and 1980s–along with the Clinton administration, which institutionalized the feminist agenda.

“The presence of women in combat forces degrades humanity” and sends “all the wrong messages about family, gender and moral honor,” wrote columnist Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

As a proof-text to justify his opposition to women in the military, he cited Joshua 1:14, which said that both wives and cattle were to remain behind while men went to war.

“The inclusion of women in combat military units is a challenge to the moral character of the American people,” he wrote.

While Mohler implicitly blames women for America’s humiliation in Iraq, one wonders if women are the indirect target of a resolution likely to be debated at this month’s Southern Baptist Convention on the alleged “godless” nature of public schools.

T. C. Pinckney, a former Southern Baptist Convention vice-president, and Bruce Shortt, a Texas lawyer, have submitted a resolution that calls Christians to abandon the public school system.

If public schools are “dark and decaying” and teach “the homosexual lifestyle,” as Pinckney and Shortt claim, then who is to blame? It must be women. After all, they are at the heart of the public school system. Since women make up most of the teachers, administrators and school board members, women must be responsible for the situation in “government schools.”

Pinckey and Shortt contend that “it is foolish for Christians to give their children to be trained in the schools run by the enemies of God.”

Opposition to their resolution comes from those whose wives are public school teachers, suggesting that they discern the embedded anti-women mentality in the anti-public school message.

Blaming women for problems is a recurring theme with fundamentalists.

As early as 1984, when fundamentalists were seeking control of the SBC, the convention adopted a resolution against the ordination of women. The resolution noted that “the man was first in creation and the woman was first in the Edenic fall.”

Translation: sin entered the world through women.

Twenty years later, fundamentalists own the SBC. Their new faith statement assigns women to one role—managing the home, not professions like the military and education.

Apparently, when women get outside their God-ordained roles, then bad things happen.


Robert Parham is the executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics.

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