Southern Baptists Won't Endorse Women as Military Chaplains
BY: Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service
RNS-The Southern Baptist Convention will no longer endorse women as military chaplains, the agency that regulates chaplains policy has announced.
"The majority of Southern Baptists are opposed to women's ordination for any reason," said Terry Fox, trustee chairman of the North American Mission Board, whose policy change was made Wednesday (Feb. 4.)
"It brought our agency in line with the larger family of Southern Baptists."
The trustees made their decision in response to concerns raised by military chaplains who wanted to ensure that Southern Baptist chaplains in the armed services would be required to be ordained.
"In the future the North American Mission Board will endorse only ordained men to the office of chaplain to serve in the military or any place where the role and function of the chaplain would be seen the same as that of a pastor," the board wrote in an official response to a motion made by a Navy chaplain at the denomination's 2003 summer meeting in Phoenix.
"We recognize ordination as a local church action, but endorsement and its requirement is the action of a national agency."
Fox told Religion News Service the policy change resolves a "dilemma" his agency faced after its 2002 decision that it would not endorse ordained women chaplains. Military chaplains had responded that ordination of their variety of chaplains was necessary since their role is similar to a pastor because they preach and perform baptisms, weddings and funerals.
"We asked them to either allow ordained females to come in or not allow them at all," said Chaplain (Capt.) Randy Cash, who joined other Southern Baptist chaplains in the Navy in pressing the mission agency on the matter. "For us, it was not a female issue. It was more an ordination issue."