This is for you friends. A battlecry for women in the church today.
If you are Southern Baptist or even loosely affiliated with the Southern Baptist Church through an often Baptist Influenced “non-denominational” mega-church Beth Moore is a name you recognize. If you are a Christian woman who participates in women’s groups and group Bible studies or has even stepped foot inside a Lifeway bookstore, Beth Moore is a name you recognize.
The recent news that Beth has cut ties with LifeWay Christian bookstores, the Southern Baptist Convention and her public announcement that she no longer considers herself Southern Baptist may be a huge shock to your system.
This is for you. A plea to resist #groupthink.
You may be one of the thousands of Beth Moore “fans” who are no longer following her, buying her books, or using her Bible studies. There are thousands on the anti-bethmoore bandwagon now. This is evidenced by the $1.8 million loss Living Proof ministries endured following Beth publicly expressing her negative opinions about Donald Trump.
Evangelical groupthink already in motion.
When Moore spoke out about Trump, the pushback was fierce. Book sales plummeted as did ticket sales to her events. Her criticism of Trump was seen as an act of betrayal. From fiscal 2017 to fiscal 2019, Living Proof lost more than $1.8 million. -- Black Christian News.comLiving Proof Ministries Financials as reported by Ministry Watch.
You may be thinking — who cares? Another multi-million dollar Christian ministry/business, why does it matter if she loses money? The money doesn’t matter to you or me personally.
What does matter is what all of this means for women in the church at large.
Beth Moore has always walked to the beat of her own drum when it comes to her Bible Study style. Starting off in the 1980s doing devotions at aerobics classes, growing as a Bible teacher Beth started attracting large crowds to her Bible studies at her local Baptist church in Houston. Through the years as her popularity grew. Then in 1995 she established Living Proof Ministries offering guided Bible studies, live events, a YouTube Chanel and more. Using these platforms Beth Moore takes her audience on a deep dive into the Bible.
She has helped millions of women (and some men) learn more about the Bible and their faith. Baptist or not.
Despite the uber traditional, man-centered theology and leadership in the Southern Baptist Church Beth has remained dedicated to her denomination and Southern Baptist Convention affiliation for years.
Religion News Service reports she "was above reproach, supporting Southern Baptist teaching that limits the office of pastor to men alone and cheerleading for the missions and evangelistic work that the denomination holds dear."
Even following rude, misogynistic comments from well-known megachurch pastor John MacArthur saying she should “go home” after speaking at a church for a Mother’s Day sermon.
Read that again, a woman giving the “sermon” or “message” or “keynote address” at a church, during a regular Sunday morning church service on Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day. This happened. In real life. In 2019!
Southern Baptists had a fit and some Christian leaders attacked her in the media with statements like these:
“There’s just something about the order of creation that means that God intends for the preaching voice to be a male voice,” Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said on his podcast.
Over the course of the last few years, Beth has become outspoken about sexual abuse and become an advocate for victims. She has also been outspoken about her opinion of Donald Trump. As a result of these things, stirrings of her unrest within the Southern Baptist Church started to surface.
Fast forward to today.
Beth Moore has cut ties with LifeWay and her Southern Baptist affiliation.
I say good for her!
Let me be clear, I am not affiliated with a local Baptist Church or the Southern Baptist Church as a whole. I do however have a history with both. When I became an official “Christian” it was in a local Southern Baptist church with a Baptist youth group. Much of my early foundation for my faith comes from the Baptist church.
I moved on to non-denominational churches, got sucked into mega-church cult-like systems and mindset. I then landed in a Christian cult. A small ministry group/family business rooted in that same mega-church mentality.
After years of spiritual and emotional abuse, devastating damage to my family, and having to face the reality that I did still have faith in God but no longer faith in people I separated from all church and ministry affiliation for a while.
It’s been a long journey mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. Through it all I learned a lot about my faith, people, the church and different systems that operate within the church as we know it in Western Christianity.
One of those systems is groupthink.
This brings me here, to Beth Moore and my passionate plea against #groupthink.
My message is for the untold thousands of women who are “never going to read her books or do her Bible studies again”. The evangelical women who are being swept along with this mob mentality but have the tiniest inkling they don’t really want to go along with this way of thinking.
Groupthink is rampant in organizations of all kinds including but not limited to churches, ministries, businesses, big, small, right, or wrong. In my opinion, groupthink is always wrong.
Groupthink is a dangerous thing.
What is groupthink? How is it different from educating yourself about something in a group setting? Like school or even a healthy religious setting?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines groupthink as:
For many years I was influenced by groupthink. It is a tricky phenomenon.
On the one hand, you are choosing to be part of the group right? So doesn’t this make you a willing participant? This very thing is what makes groupthink so dangerous. It happens all while you justify to yourself that you are essentially “thinking for yourself” even as you question the very thoughts and decisions you are making. The dangers of groupthink are very real.
Psychology Today goes on to explain “Even in minor cases, groupthink triggers decisions that aren’t ideal or that ignore critical information.”
In more dangerous situations groupthink can cause people to ignore moral or ethical convictions, cut ties with family and friends, give or spend money in amounts that cause undue hardship or even keep them in poverty.
What does groupthink have to do with Beth Moore and her Bible Studies?
If you are a woman involved in a Southern Baptist Church or a Baptist influenced “non-denominational” church the dangers of groupthink right now have everything to do with Beth Moore and you.
You probably find yourself being bombarded with a groupthink chorus of anti-bethmoore voices. Possibly and even more sneakily all Beth Moore books, Bible studies or any mention of her may be quietly tucked away. Like you won’t even notice. Like she was never there.
You may be getting rid of all of your Beth Moore books and Bible Study Workbooks. Maybe still “secretly” listening to her or following her now for fear of your church friends or leaders finding out.
You may be thinking what was the problem with her speaking in church on Mother’s Day? Isn’t she allowed to have an opinion about Donald Trump? Isn’t that what conservative evangelicals (like the SBC) want? Free speech? What is all the fuss about?
Maybe you have even spoken up a little but now feel silenced and just going with the flow. Laying low.
My goal here is not to champion Beth Moore or say you need to do her Bible studies.
I am not affiliated with Beth Moore in any way and personally do not prefer her style as a teacher.
Please understand my goal here is to help you think for yourself! To speak up at your church and in your denomination if you think this is wrong! To give yourself a choice and a voice!
My goal here is to educate and warn anyone who reads this about groupthink.
Beginning with speaking up about her unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump to her cutting ties with LifeWay Bookstores she is risking losing millions of dollars to live with integrity to her convictions. I can only hope every Christian leader in our country would do the same.
For myself, I want to live by the integrity of my convictions. I appreciate this brave woman taking a stand for hers. I hope the countless numbers of women she has helped find a love for Bible Study and a closer walk with God will find their voices as well.
Check out more from Heidi Suydam:
Average suburban housewife turned grocery store stocking clerk (thank you 2020), part-time blogger, full time dreamer, content writer (my new job!). Owner/founder of #thesosblog.