With generous assistance from a 2012 Mary Lily Research Grant, I visited the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture this past summer to conduct research for my dissertation, “The Spiritual is Political: How the Southern Baptist Convention Debated Feminism and Found the New Right.”
I focused primarily on records in the Resource Center for Women in Ministry in the South collection. The Resource Center was founded by Jeanette Stokes in 1977 to provide support for women who were in ministerial leadership roles. Its extensive archival records at Duke University include back issues of its publication, “South of the Garden,” materials from its annual “Women in Ministry in North Carolina” conferences, and the newsletters and paraphernalia of affiliated religious organizations.
In my examination of the Resource Center files, I came across an interesting collection of newsletters for Southern Baptists in North Carolina who supported feminism in the 1970s and 1980s. These newsletters were produced by “Southern Baptists for the Family and Equal Rights,” or SBFER, an organization formed in 1981 to create support for the Equal Rights Amendment and issues related to women’s health and welfare in the North Carolina Baptist Convention and in state politics.SBFER was short-lived, lasting less than five years. Though it failed to attract considerable support in the national denomination, it enjoyed limited success as a local organization. After its efforts to promote the ERA in the state were unsuccessful and the deadline for ERA ratification came and went, the organization turned its focus to women’s ordination and other expressions of feminism in the Southern Baptist Convention. After 1985, however, the organization began to decline as it became clear that the denomination was not returning to a moderate course.The SBFER’s newsletters are crucial for my dissertation as they provide evidence of grassroots feminism within the Southern Baptist Convention at a time when the denomination was reversing course on many issues regarding gender equality, in full retreat from moderate positions it had taken in the 1970s. These materials from the early 1980s reveal strong dissenting views, which complicate the narrative of the Southern Baptist Convention’s right turn on social issues. SBFER aimed to throw a wrench in the plans of the denomination’s new conservative leaders. And while they were unable to stop the Southern Baptist Convention from aligning itself with the Religious Right, they did succeed in keeping women’s issues part of denominational dialogue in the 1980s.
Post contributed by Laura J. Foxworth, Ph.D. candidate, University of South Carolina, Department of History.
Search The Devil’s Tale
Tag Cloud2011acquisitions 2012acquisition 2013acquisition advertisements advertising African American African American history archives artistsbooks civilwar conservation diaries digitization documentary dorisduke dukehistory durhamhistory economists events film fullframe games Haiti Heschel holidays human rights letterhead literature longcivilrights madmen Mad Men madmenmondays medicine movediary move prep movinghom photography recipes renovation rubensteinstaff scrapbooks sports students women's history zines
The Devil’s Tale Archive
- Letter, account, and dividend book, 1839-1867 and undated. July 18, 2014
- Eckard V. Toy Jr. papers, 1975-1995. July 16, 2014
- The marvellous history of Jack Giant-Killer. July 14, 2014
- Outpost Films Billion Dollar Babe production video, 1998 January 28. July 11, 2014
- Alan Alpert illustrated journal of business travel in Greece and India, with notes on Indian religious beliefs, 1978 July 6-1979 Jan 3. July 11, 2014
- Das veränderte Russland : in welchem die ietzige verfassung des geist- und weltlichen Regiments : der Krieges-Staat zu Lande und zu Wasser, wahre Zustand der russischen Finantzen, die geöffneten Berg-Wercke, die eingeführte Academien, Künste, Manufacturen, Verordnungen, Geschäffte mit denen asiatischen Nachbaren und Vafallen, nebst der allerneuesten Nachricht von diesen Völckern : die Begebenheiten des Czaergangene, und was sich sonst merckwürdiges in Russland zugetragen, nebst verschiedenen andern bissher unbekandten Rachrichten in einem biss 1720 gehenden Journal vorgestellet werden, mit einer accuraten Land-Carte und Kupfferstichen versehen. July 17, 2014
- L'anatomie pacifique nouvelle et curieuse : conforme à la doctrine d'Hippocrate & de Galien, qui donne les moyens d'accorder les recents avec les anciens, par des experiences nouvelles, principalement touchant les actions du coeur & des poulmons July 17, 2014
- Beytrag zur Geschichte Russlands vom Jahr 1727 bis 1744 : nebst einem Anhange über die damalige Beschaffenheit des Kriegs- des Seewesens, des Handels, der Academie &c. &c. : mit Charten und Planen : aus einer franzöisischen Handschrift. July 17, 2014
- Rhyme? and reason? July 14, 2014
- Now we are six July 14, 2014