The Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund) is standing for freedom of speech in the pulpit— or are they?
For the 7th year in a row, the ADF (a group of Christian lawyers) is encouraging pastors to break the current IRS law governing 501(c)3 organizations by endorsing political candidates from the pulpit. This year, Pulpit Freedom Sunday is on October 5.
The stated purpose of the Pulpit Freedom Initiative is “…to protect a simple, but fundamental idea – that pastors have a right to speak freely from their pulpits and not be subject to government censorship or threat of punishment when they do so. Pulpit Freedom Sunday is simply about pulpit freedom, no more, no less. Because we do not have the free exercise of religion in any meaningful sense if the government is allowed to punish a pastor for something he says from the pulpit.”
So the ADF claims to stand for the right of pastors to “speak freely from the pulpit”. Judging by the staunch anti-woman position of the pastors featured by the ADF, however, it appears they have omitted one important detail. What they mean is:
- IF a pastor is male, his freedom of speech in the pulpit should be defended.
- IF a pastor is female, not only should she be left without protection— she must be stopped.
Here are several of the participating pastors promoted by the ADF and the Pulpit Freedom Initiative, and their positions on women.
Dr. Wayne Grudem
Featured on ADF’s Pulpit Freedom Sunday homepage.
Dr. Grudem is one of the founders and board members of the Council on Biblical Manhood And Womanhood. He created 83 rules for women, to more specifically dictate what women may or may not do in the church, home, and workplace. He is one of the most aggressive opponents of women who preach, dedicating his life to limiting women in their God-given callings.
Dr. Grudem states that women are in “disobedience” to God if they speak God’s Word in the presence of men. Not only does he assert that women cannot be pastors, elders, deacons, or theological seminary or college professors, but expresses serious concerns about women functioning as worship leaders, youth leaders (because teenage boys are on the brink of manhood, when they may no longer be given Biblical instruction by their mothers), or women’s conference speakers in the case where any man might also be present (such as in the case of Beth Moore).
Pastor Jamie Rasmussen
Scottsdale Bible Church
Featured on ADF‘s speakupmovement.org.
“The government of this church, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, is vested in the Elder Board, whose authority is derived from the body of believers who compose this church. Only men who are members of Scottsdale Bible Church, who are of high Christian character and integrity, who maintain an exemplary reputation, who demonstrate leadership in the ministry of the church, and who possess the qualifications in Titus 1:6–9; and I Timothy 3:1–7 may be elected as Elders.” (emphasis added)
Pastor Robert Hall
Featured on ADF‘s speakupmovement.org.
“Gender Roles- We believe in the pattern and principle of male leadership and responsibility in both the home and the church. We believe this limits the roles of pastoral leadership and doctrinal authority to qualified men (1 Cor 11:1-12, 1 Tim 2:1-15).” (emphasis added)
Pastor John Munro
“Only male members of the congregation over the age of twenty-one with at least one year active membership shall be eligible for election as Elder or Deacon except when the Session is unanimous in its approval of a nominee.” (emphasis added)
Pastor Voddie Bacham
Featured on ADF’s Pulpit Freedom Sunday homepage.
Voddie Bacham expresses his anti-woman views in an interview by CNN‘s Kyra Phillips about whether Sarah Palin should work outside the home:
CNN: “Let’s say Palin and McCain do win, and here you have this woman that could possibly be leading the free world, and yet there’s evangelicals voting for her that don’t even believe that a woman should preach at the pulpit. Could this change the face of how evangelicals believe in the woman’s role?”
Bacham: “I don’t think it’ll change the way evangelicals believe about women’s roles. I think it has sparked a discussion. And quite frankly, feminism has gained a foothold in many evangelical churches.”
CNN: “Do you think that’s a good thing?”
Bacham: “No, I don’t, not at all.”
CNN: “Why not?”
Bacham: “Well because, we’re about the Gospel. The culture doesn’t dictate truth, the Gospel dictates truth. My job is not to be a political pundit or a political activist, my job is to be a pastor and proclaim the truth of the Gospel as clearly as I possibly can.”
CNN: “What about the Old Testament and the prophet Deborah…she was a political leader, she was a wife, she was a mother, she was one of the biggest forces in the book of Judges, so that’s the Gospel right there.”
Bacham: “She certainly was. And the fact that something happened doesn’t mean that it’s normative for the church. In Isaiah chapter 3, for example, one of the signs that a culture is under judgment is that women are in leadership in their nations. So Deborah was actually a sign that things were very bad in Israel, not a norm for the church.
CNN: “Reverend, this could be an exciting time, we’re becoming progressive in so many ways. We’re seeing a black man possibly winning the Presidency, we’re seeing a women on the Republican ticket…rousing up evangelicals possibly to think twice about the woman’s role in the church…this is fascinating times.”
Bacham: “They are fascinating times, and they’re also frightening times…Palin’s responsibility as a wife and a mother is governed by Scripture, not by whether we feel it’s progressive in our culture…my job is not to translate into working class families, my job is to be honest with the text, and the text says in Titus chapter 2 and verse 5, a woman is to be the keeper of her home. Now I will not violate the teaching of the text in order to somehow sound more appropriate for the culture. I am a herald of the truth of the Gospel, and my job is to teach the Gospel according to what the authors have said, not according to what I think the culture wants to hear.”
Mr. Bacham also speaks at John MacArthur’s Shepherd’s Conference. In the FAQ’s for this exclusively same-sex gathering, participants are boldly warned not to bring their wives, as doing so would not “allow” them “to serve these men”:
“FOR MEN Please note, the Shepherds’ Conference is specifically geared for men only. Our purpose is to minister to the pastors, elders, and leaders of the local church. We encourage you to allow us to serve these men by not bringing your spouse to the conference. We have limited space in our worship center as well as on campus. Our focus is to make this conference a time for these men to be refreshed and rejuvenated in their ministry.”
Though Mr. Bacham stated in the interview above, “My job is not to be a political pundit or a political activist, my job is to be a pastor and proclaim the truth of the Gospel…” he is in fact a featured participant in Pulpit Freedom Sunday, which is specifically fighting for a pastor’s right to “preach an election sermon”, giving political endorsements from the pulpit.
ADF Founder and CEO Alan Sears, Father Richard Perozich, and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput
As a featured ADF participant, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput and his colleague sum up the Catholic position on women in this article by The Baltimore Sun.
Nov 8, 1992: “Speaking against Cardinal Bernardin’s motion, Bishop Charles J. Chaput of Rapid City, S.D., told the conference members: “It is important for us to say something clearly about the ordination of women.”
Failure to adopt the pastoral letter will “make it appear we are not certain,” Bishop Chaput said.
Auxiliary Bishop Austin B. Vaughan of New York agreed, saying the Catholic laity needs to be told that “a woman priest is as impossible as for me to have a baby.”
“In the year Two Million, there will still be a Catholic Church and there will still be an all-male clergy,” he added. Reminding his fellow bishops that “the Holy See did not want any more discussion of the ordination of women…”
Archbishop Chaput‘s position on the ordination of women is clear: not in two million years.
At first glance, one might find it inspiring that pastors from so many vastly different denominations have been drawn together by a greater cause. Amazingly, these men are finding common ground in spite of the fact that many of their doctrines disqualify each other from leadership or even salvation (i.e., the official position confirmed by the Vatican that salvation can only be achieved by joining the Catholic church – a belief that Catholic President and CEO of the ADF, Alan Sears, surely would not disagree with.)
But as one looks closer, the common value that the vast majority of these pastors share comes to light— it’s not the doctrine of the Gospel, it’s not even respect for one another. It’s an ancient marker placed on Satan and his offspring by God in the book of Genesis: enmity for the woman.
Genesis 3:14a, 15a (NIV):
“So the LORD God said to the serpent…And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers…”
In fact, with few exceptions, most of the pastors featured on ADF‘s current and past webpages for Pulpit Freedom Sunday stand in opposition to any female being allowed to say anything— political or otherwise— from a pulpit. Period.
Did you hear the operative phrase? Being allowed.
These men are not fighting for freedom of speech for all people, or even all Christians, but for themselves in particular. Not only that, but they insist on their presumably constitutional (and presumably Biblical) right to use that freedom to deprive all women of that same privilege, whatever the cost.
Ironically, one of the ADF‘s complaints against it’s opponents, including the ACLU and the IRS, is their use of intimidation to silence men in the pulpit. But as seen in numerous cases, these same pastors habitually use intimidation to stop women from preaching the gospel altogether.
Case in point:
- Imagine a room full of pastors turning their backs on Anne Graham Lotz— Billy Graham’s daughter, whom he has called “the best preacher in the family”—when she was invited to speak at a preacher’s convention…simply because she’s a woman.
- Might it have been intimidating for Pastor Julie Pennington-Russell to walk with her child through a picket line of protesters holding signs that said “Jezebel”, just to get inside Calvary Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, to perform her first service as pastor? Mrs. Pennington-Russell recalls,
“I was walking through the picket line with my son Taylor, who was 7 at the time, and all the sudden he squeezed my hand and pulled me down and said, ‘Mom, who is Jezebel, and why are they calling you that?”
- How great was the public backlash from the “respected” religious men in the Dallas community at the decision of Irving Bible Church to allow a women to preach…one Sunday? Here are some of the statements they made in the press:
- The Rev. Tom Nelson of Denton Bible Church said his friends in Irving are on “dangerous” ground. “If the Bible is not true and authoritative on the roles of men and women, then maybe the Bible will not be finally true on premarital sex, the homosexual issue, adultery or any other moral issue,” he said. “I believe this issue is the carrier of a virus by which liberalism will enter the evangelical church.”
- Mark Bailey, president of Dallas Theological Seminary, has removed himself from a team of regular guest preachers at Irving Bible Church.The Dallas seminary, which supplies pastors to Bible churches around the country, has long had close ties with Irving Bible Church. But Dr. Bailey said that he and his wife, Barby, were amicably distancing themselves for “personal convictions and professional reasons.”
- In an editorial on Irving Bible Church’s decision (as if it were their business), Denny Burk stated in the JBMW, the journal for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, “…we do not view the changes at IBC with indifference. The situation is a matter of grave moral concern…”. (One of the founders and board members of this militant anti-woman group is Wayne Grudem, who is consistently and prominently featured as a participant and advocate for Pulpit Freedom Sunday and the ADF.)
Compare this to the non-existent response of the same religious “leaders” in Dallas, TX to scandals perpetrated by their fellow pastors.
Case In Point:
- Dallas megachurch Prestonwood Baptist Church‘s founder Bill Weber— a serial adulterer who cheated with parishioners wives’— who when caught, moved down the street to start yet another congregation. With the support of Mary Kay Ash, he faced no angry crowds, but only a room full of wealthy supporters anxious to see him back in the pulpit.
- Associate Pastor Joe Barron, also from Prestonwood, who more recently got caught by undercover police and arrested for seeking sex with a 13-year old.
- Pastor Jack Graham (yep, Prestonwood again) was called on the carpet for failing to report child sex abuse by Prestonwood minister John Langworthy to police, who went on to serve as a youth music minister in Mississippi, where he allegedly continued to abuse other children.
- Dr. Paige Patterson, also associated with the CBMW‘s work, is a prominent leader of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) who covered up multiple allegations and incidents of adultery, sexual harassment, rape, and pedophilia against Pastor Darrell Gilyard, who has served time for sex crimes.
Dr. Patterson met with victims, refused to see many more, and consistently told them not to report the abuse to police or talk about it to anyone else unless they had “proof”. Patterson helped pass Gilyard around to other churches, recommending him whenever he would lose a pastorate as a result of his crimes.
Speaking after one of Gilyard’s many resignation speeches, Dr. Patterson described Mr. Gilyard as one of the “most brilliant men in the pulpit”, and defended his own conduct by saying, “We were dealing with a man of special gifts and talents…I was unwilling to call anyone guilty until I had demonstratable evidence that these allegations were true.”
Dr. Patterson said that according to Scriptures, action cannot be taken against a minister accused of adultery unless there are two or more witnesses. He also asked for any other proof, such as photographs, videotapes or laboratory tests. (emphasis added)
Darrell Gilyard, now a convicted child molester, currently preaches from a pulpit in Jacksonville, FL, with little resistance from these religious men.
Though all kinds of conflicting and errant doctrine might be preached on any given Sunday by often adulterous, abusive, even criminal men, the pastors promoted by ADF don’t take much notice. You won’t see them forming picket lines or making veiled threats against these perpetrators.
No, there is only one “sin” that elicits that kind of solidarity. That is when a member of the weaker sex stands up in a pulpit— any pulpit—to simply speak truth from the Bible.
It’s at this point that these leaders respond as one man— with disproportionate, crushing force. Nothing in the Scriptures gives them the right to act this way.
Even their favorite verse, 1 Timothy 2:12, is now commonly known to say what the rest of the Scriptures confirm— that a pastor does not have the authority to permit a wife (Gr.”gunaiki”, Strong’s #<1135>) to teach or usurp authority over her husband (Gr.“androv”, Strong’s #<435>) in a church meeting. Duh.
But more than that, these pastors are acting in opposition to the authority of God’s Word when they disobey Jesus’ instructions to his leaders:
Don’t Stop Them
Luke 9:49-50 (NIV):
“‘Master,’ said John, ‘we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.’ ‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said, ‘for whoever is not against you is for you.’”
The word “whoever” is not gender specific. You do not have the right to stop anyone from preaching the Gospel just because they’re not one of your “group”.
Don’t Be Unkind, Instruct Gently
2 Timothy 2:24-25 (NIV):
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth…”
Don’t Force Them Into Submission
1 Peter 5:3 (NET)
“And do not lord it over [beat into submission, control, subjugate, exercise dominion over] those entrusted to you, but be examples to the flock.”
Don’t Play God
1 Corinthians 12:28 (NASB):
“And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.”
God decides who he will appoint. God has historically appointed women to lead and teach men. Man has no authority to dictate to God whom he may choose. Anyone doing so is usurping the authority of God’s Word.
The point here is not whether these men are correct in their belief that women should stay home, cook, clean, have babies, homeschool, never tell their husbands what to do (like Sarai did), correct a man’s misconceptions about God’s Word (like Priscilla), prophesy (like Deborah, Huldah, Elizabeth, Hannah, and Phillip’s daughters), pastor a church (like the woman to whom the entire letter of 2 John is written), and most importantly never EVER say anything that might convict a man of his sin.
The point is exactly the one the ADF and their pastors are making for themselves— that women should have the freedom to practice their religious beliefs without being subjected to fear and intimidation, even if they don’t agree with religious men. For women pastors and teachers there is, just as the ADF states, a “critical need to protect religious freedom from repeated attacks…[and] preserve the free exercise of religion.”
The only difference is that the Christian woman’s persecutors are not just the ACLU and the IRS. They are our own brothers. And our “crime” is not refusing to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” while preaching the life giving Gospel of Jesus Christ.
According to these ADF promoted pastors, it’s having the audacity to think that a woman will be allowed to “speak up”…at all.