Monday, August 21, 2006


In a story that should be news nowhere at all, the media is shocked--Shocked!--that a church hasdismissed a woman Bible class teacher because, well, she's a woman:
The minister of a church that dismissed a female Sunday School teacher after adopting what it called a literal interpretation of the Bible says a woman can perform any job — outside of the church.

The First Baptist Church dismissed Mary Lambert on Aug. 9 with a letter explaining that the church had adopted an interpretation that prohibits women from teaching men. She had taught there for 54 years.

The letter quoted the first epistle to Timothy: "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent."

The Rev. Timothy LaBouf, who also serves on the Watertown City Council, issued a statement saying his stance against women teaching men in Sunday school would not affect his decisions as a city leader in Watertown, where all five members of the council are men but the city manager who runs the city's day-to-day operations is a woman.

"I believe that a woman can perform any job and fulfill any responsibility that she desires to" outside of the church, LaBouf wrote Saturday.

Mayor Jeffrey Graham, however, was bothered by the reasons given Lambert's dismissal.

"If what's said in that letter reflects the councilman's views, those are disturbing remarks in this day and age," Graham said. "Maybe they wouldn't have been disturbing 500 years ago, but they are now."

This ranks right up there with a story on a church opposing homosexuality. It's news only in the minds of those who have rarely if ever attended church. It is relevant insofar as such a move rankles modern society's sense of equality. One of these days there will be a move to punish churches for practicing beliefs--or stating such beliefs--in clear violation of the Constitution's guarantee of freedom of religion. LaBouf is likely to find already that such a move is not politically palatable, especially to a lot of people in New York.


Anonymous said...

It's certainly not news that many churches don't permit women to teach Sunday School. But when a church abruptly changes its existing interpretation/policy and drops a 54-year veteran teacher as a result, it's no surprise that it attracts a little attention.

The public offical angle is interesting, too. Is it really any surprise that there are questions about his ability to be gender-neutral outside of church as a result of this event? Defend it or deplore it, but don't be surprised it gets reported.

Anonymous said...

I am left to wonder whether or not the 54-year veteran teacher was offered a different post, possibly teaching other women or children? If so, and if it had been reported, then spectacular news story there would not have been.

Drew Kizer said...

According to GetReligion, there's more to Mary Lambert's dismissal than her gender. Doctrinal reasons were cited, but information has surfaced showing that this was really a church squabble made public by the press.

Anonymous said...

Not this dodge again. The church doesn't have the nerve to tell the individual there is a problem, so they invent a new "policy" that just happens to apply to her? I've seen more churches dig themselves into more holes with that one. Cowardice is so much more expensive than the courage of your convictions in the long run.