Reporter says he didn't mischaracterize Stanley's statements on SBC and women
October 28 2003 by Mark Wingfield and Robert Marus , Associated Baptist Press

Reporter says he didn't mischaracterize Stanley's statements on SBC and women | Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2003

Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2003

Reporter says he didn't mischaracterize Stanley's statements on SBC and women

By Mark Wingfield and Robert Marus Associated Baptist Press

FORT WORTH, Texas - For the second time in three years, Charles Stanley has contended a secular-newspaper reporter mischaracterized his expressed views on Southern Baptists and women - but the reporter firmly denies misreporting Stanley's comments.

In an interview with veteran religion reporter Jim Jones of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Stanley said it is "ridiculous" to think that wives should submit to their husbands simply because the SBC said to.

Stanley, pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta and a popular radio and television preacher, is a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. His re-election to that office at the convention's annual meeting in 1985 is considered a pivotal point in the decade-long struggle for control of the denomination's governing structure.

In his story, Jones - whose body of work was honored in 2002 when he received the Associated Baptist Press Religious Freedom Award - also indicated that Stanley doesn't support the convention's prohibition on women serving as pastors.

The article was published in the newspaper's Oct. 18 issue. It was based on an interview given during Stanley's visit to Texas to promote a new book he has authored.

Six days later, the SBC's Baptist Press issued an article in which Stanley asserted that Jones had misrepresented his views on the issues and twisted his words. However, Jones released a transcript of the tape-recorded interview that verified the words he had quoted Stanley as saying.

According to the transcript, Jones asked Stanley about some other Christian denominations that allow women to serve as pastors.

Stanley responded: "Yeah, and for example in other countries of the world where men are not taking responsibility, women are beginning to be pastors of churches. The women are rising up in different places. So you can't go to somebody [in] like India or Japan or wherever it is and tell some woman who is preaching the gospel, people are being saved, lives are being changed, big churches [are being established] and say, 'You can't do that.'

"My feeling is this: You have to leave God's calling to whomever God calls. Period. And I just say no. I think getting into that was a mistake. What happened was it just stirred up anger and resentment toward Baptists that probably people hadn't even thought about Baptists before. And you know, if a woman is going to be submissive, she's not going to be submissive because of the Southern Baptist Convention. So it's just ridiculous."

According to the transcript, Jones then asked about SBC statements on wifely submission.

Stanley answered: "Well, Jesus said to honor one another. Submissive doesn't mean doormat. Submissive means should submit yourselves one to another. That husband and wives understand each others' needs, try to meet each others' needs. The Bible talks about unity and oneness. If I love my wife and she loves me, we are going to come to some kind of agreement. But the emphasis is usually, 'OK, the man is up here and the woman is down here.'

"And so, that's the message that gets sent no matter what you believe. So my feeling is that we don't need to discuss the issue."

Jones asked further: "So you disagree on that issue with Southern Baptists?"

Stanley responded: "My opinion was it wasn't necessary for it to come up."

In the Baptist Press coverage, Stanley contends Jones "did not quote me accurately, and I noticed he sort of rearranged a few things."

The quotations attributed to Stanley in the Star-Telegram story, however, appear verified by Jones' transcript. Jones told ABP that the transcript, which BP described as "partial," covers the entire portion of the interview dealing with the issue of the SBC and women.

While Stanley insisted to Baptist Press he does not disagree with other conservative SBC presidents and leaders on theological issues, the BP article conceded that Stanley does in fact take some issue with the Baptist Faith and Message's statements on women. Stanley "believes one amendment should have been clarified and another not included at all," according to the story.

Further, according to the BP article, Stanley said of Jones: "He asked me specifically, which he did not include in his article, 'Would you vote for a lady to be the pastor of a church, a woman?' I said, 'No, I would not.' I said, 'That's my personal opinion, and I certainly respect other people's opinions, but I would not vote for a woman to be the pastor of a church.' But he never put that in the article."

Jones responded that he has no recollection of asking such a question and that no such question or answer appears on his tape recording of the interview. He said leaving out such information would have been "a gross omission" from his story.

In an Oct. 28 interview from his Fort Worth home, Jones told ABP that he does not believe he mischaracterized Stanley's comments. He said his interview with Stanley left him "with the strong impression" that Stanley disagreed with the SBC's stances on women.

Alluding to Stanley's insistence in the BP story that he did not oppose the faith statement, Jones said, "He elaborated on that to other people, but what he told me left me with the strong impression that he opposed them."

Stanley also asserted in the BP story that he thought his interview with Jones was to have been about his book and not about SBC issues. But Jones said that "there were no stipulations by [Stanley] or the publisher or anybody" regarding subjects of discussion for the interview.

Both edicts Stanley reportedly criticized were additions to the SBC's Baptist Faith and Message doctrinal statement approved by convention messengers in 2000. Those controversial additions were penned and promoted by some of Stanley's allies in SBC politics.

This isn't the first time Stanley has taken issue with the reporting of his comments on the issue. In the summer of 2000, soon after the revised Baptist Faith and Message was adopted, Stanley told a group of pastors in North Carolina: "There are some godly women out there. I would never say that a woman could not preach.... You just can't put God in a box."

Stanley quickly backed away from that report, however, saying his words had been "twisted and distorted" by the Charlotte Observer. At the time, he drew a distinction between a woman being a preacher and being a pastor.

Jones suggested that part of the controversy over the latest interview may stem from Stanley confusing the two interviews. Discussing why Stanley claimed he told Jones he wouldn't vote for a woman as pastor of a church when Jones said his tape revealed no such discussion, the journalist said, "I don't know how he came out - why he said that. Unless he was confusing; maybe he was thinking back to that earlier Charlotte Observer interview."

10/28/2003 11:00:00 PM by Mark Wingfield and Robert Marus , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments
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