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Friday, September 07, 2007

3 Progressive Baptist Women Leery of Hillary Clinton

Well, that's not the exactly the title....

But check out this Associated Baptist Press article.

NEW YORK (ABP) -- Many Christian conservatives have put her in the “anyone but” category -- they’ll vote for anyone but Hillary Clinton. However, progressive Christians, who some think should be the senator's natural allies, aren't jumping on her bandwagon either.

While Clinton might win some evangelical support if she can portray her faith as authentic, say political observers, she simply must win support from progressive and liberal Christians to have a chance of gaining the White House.

Clinton's campaign is aggressively cultivating progressive Christians, who are enjoying some time back in the spotlight after years in the Religious Right's shadow. But so far, such Christians’ response to the New York senator has been tepid. Even some Baptist feminists are saying they have yet to warm up to her.

Baptist feminists are represented by the following three women:

1. Rachel Agee - a Union University alum who describes herself as just "a little bit feminist"

2. Emily Hunter McGowin - SBC Outpost contributor who has authored articles on feminism included in an Apologetics encyclopedia edited by Ergun Caner, President of Falwell's Liberty Theological Seminary. Also pro-life.

3. Becky Garrison - senior contributing editor to The Wittenburg Door

Are these the only so-called feminists that Associated Baptist Press could find?

The Baptist feminists that I know are more than "just a little bit feminist" and aren't scared of the word. Becky Garrison likely passes muster. But if the other's can't fully embrace the feminist label, should a news organization apply the feminist tag?

I must admit that I get confused when journalists use terms like "progressive" to refer to both a person's theology and their politics (without elaborating or making a distinction between the two). Surely, Baptist history has taught us that not all politically progressive Baptists are theologically progressive?

Are these women theologically progressive, politically progressive, or both?

Frankly, I ain't got the darnedest clue....


Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Well, the Baptist feminists I know are mostly clergy and so they would not want to "negatively endorse" Sen. Clinton. But I am not sure ABP has done its homework. I think it started with a conclusion and then searched for examples.
Why do I think this? Because every reputable poll out shows that Clinton is doing VERY well with women in general--and surely that has to include may progressive feminist Christians, too--whether progressive is defined politically or theologically.
I don't want Clinton to get the nomination because I don't trust her to get us out of Iraq or keep us from other wars. She is a committed free trader and I am a fair trader.
But she seems to be sailing toward the nomination whether I like it or not. So I suspect she is doing better with all kinds of Christian women than is being reported--since the gender gap is almost exactly the percentage she leads Obama.

4:26 AM

Anonymous Chuck said...

Big Daddy,

I agree with you that "progressive" is mis-used. It's the wrong term in both the theological and political sense for liberalism. "Regressive" or "oppresive" would more accurately characterize these viewpoints--if an "ive" word is needed.


11:48 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

I've met the author of the ABP piece and she's good at her job. It can't be easy to start trying to track down Baptist women who 1) aren't clergy (as Michael points out, they shouldn't be making endorsements one way or the other), 2) moderate enough to appeal to ABP's readership as something other than women who could be written off as "not really Baptist," and 3) are what mainstream American discourse would define as politically and/or theologically "progressive."

That said, I think these women actually probably do represent the views of many progressive Baptist women. A lot of us don't want Hillary to run for president, for reasons having nothing to do with a commitment to feminism or a lack thereof.

I, of course, am waiting for Al Mohler to tell me what to think. :)

11:52 AM

Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Clearly, journalists need to define their terms. I be confused.

Actually, I think it would be easy to find women (who embrace the F word) that aren't clergy. For various reasons, most are in academia.

Timothy Bonney, an ABC-USA minister, had this to say:

"Yes, my thought was "If ABP considers these ladies "progressives" what would they consider a "conservative" Baptist woman to be? ABP is a good solid news organization but, they also have the usual myopia of organizations that had their origin in the SBC. I can think of quite a few progressive Baptist women in the ABC but, "Baptist" when used generically often means Baptists in the south."

I think he has a point. Former Southern Baptists have a tendency to forget about Baptists outside of the South.

1:27 PM

Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Former Southern Baptists have a tendency to forget about Baptists outside of the South.

No kidding! I hate that, too! Yes, I spent two decades in SBC life, but I came to Baptist views from interaction with African-American Baptists and then Baptists in Germany. The "Dixieland" orientation of even former Southern Baptists has so distressed me that I don't know what to do about it.

1:51 PM

Anonymous Chuck said...

Seriously, though, don't you imagine that ABF is guilty only of buying the tired old line that women are only suppressed and oppressed by conservative Christians--certainly by fundamentalists, Religious Right sorts--and, thus, never suspected that they'd find a non-progressive female in any influential position in Baptist-dom?

Give ABP the benefit of the doubt. They've simply swallowed the rhetoric of the religious left.

4:48 PM

Blogger Emily Hunter McGowin said...

I know this comment thread is old, but can I weigh in? (I didn't realize anyone picked up this article...)

You should know that I was shocked ABP wanted to talk to me at all. You're right. I'm a nobody and I don't belong in this kind of piece. I clarified several times in the interview that I do not consider myself someone who speaks for Baptist women. Obviously, I have no control over what gets in the article and what doesn't.

I don't find myself included in the title the reporter chose. I'm not "wary" of Clinton's candidacy at all nor do I think Baptist women in general are wary of it.

I don't mind claiming the feminist label. I am proud to stand in a tradition of women who have stood up for their full humanity and equality before God and in God's Kingdom. I am acutely aware, however, of the two-ton baggage attached to the term in SB circles. I am a Criswell grad, after all. I know what conservatives assume about women who claim to be "feminists." I'd rather avoid those barrier-creating assumptions if I can.

Yes, I am "pro-life," but not in the typical way. I detest the fact that so many women in our country choose to get abortions, but I am unconvinced that criminalizing abortion will reduce them or address the reasons why they choose to do so. I think this is a much bigger issue than Roe vs. Wade. We need to talk about healthcare, safety nets for single moms, empowering women to take responsibility for their sexuality, and more. Also, my pro-life views lead me to oppose capital punishment and almost all use of violence.

Finally, you couldn't know this, but I said in the interview that I think Clinton's supposed lack of rapport with women is over-blown and given too much attention. I am very concerned about her hawkish tendencies, not whether or not she's "warm" when she gives a speech.

Thanks for letting me offer my "two-cents." That and four bucks will get you an over-priced cup of exploitation produced coffee at Starbucks. :)

Grace and peace,


9:50 PM


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