On February 21, 2021, Pastor Stewart Allan-Clark, of First General Baptist Church in Malden delivered a sermon that went viral for all the wrong reasons. In the sermon, he said out loud all the misogynistic beliefs that underlie the Fundamentalist-Evangelical patriarchy.
In his sermon, he “advised” women not to give their husbands a reason to cheat. He advised women not to let themselves go and put on weight and not look butch, but to emulate Melania Trump. He described one friend who had put a “divorce weight” on his wife.
The online video of his sermon went viral and prompted the church Deacons to act. They shut down all social media for the church, and Stewart Allen-Clark left for a leave of absence and counseling.
The firestorm of controversy probably came as a surprise to the Deacons. They probably never imagined that posting their sermons online and encouraging their congregation to share them on social media would cause such a problem. That’s because they live in the “Fundagelical Bubble.” Fundagelicals have spent a great deal of time building completely separate institutions to keep their flock blissfully unaware of any thought outside their pre-determined belief system. Check out my blog post on “Are You Living In An Alternate Reality.” In the alternate reality of their Fundagelical Bubble, women are second-class citizens. They can’t have leadership roles; they are owned by their father’s until she obtains a husband. If a man has lustful thoughts, it’s not HIS fault due to HIS fleshly nature; it’s the fault of women.
Pastor Stewart Allan-Clark blames women for straying husbands and divorce because they are too fat, butch, and don’t look like Melania Trump. I’m guessing if a woman divorced her fat husband, it would be HER fault.
By posting his sermons online, the First General Baptist Church in Malden stepped outside its bubble. Outsiders who had not been indoctrinated with the Fundagelical misogyny got a glimpse at what supposed “Christian” churches believe. The non-indoctrinated made their voices heard. The Deacons quickly shut down social media probably to “protect” church members from outside ideas. I wonder how many First General Baptist Church women in Malden suddenly felt empowered to join the chorus of voices speaking against misogyny and patriarchy?
After just a few short months, the Deacons of First General Baptist Church in Malden brought the church website back online. There was a sort of apology from the Pastor and the Deacons. I call it a sort of apology because it apologizes for what was said. It apologizes for the content that was spoken. It does not apologize for the beliefs that underlie the words. In other words, it apologized for actually saying what they believe.
I want to say I am deeply sorry for any and all pain or distress That my words brought on you
Pastor Stewart Allan-Clark, will be counseled and have an accountability partner; he will eventually be back in the pulpit. However, you can bet a tacit agreement is made to not actually say women are inferior or to say that men’s sexual problems are the woman’s fault. He will be told to mind his tongue and not say misogynistic beliefs out loud. Even though he doesn’t preach that anymore, the underlying beliefs and toxic culture will still exist.
Growing out of a middle-easter patriarchy, the early church was revolutionary in its egalitarian approach to women’s leadership. However, Fundagelicals take descriptive elements of the Bible (Describing what the culture was like in ancient times and the first century) and make them prescriptive. (Turning cultural norms into divine mandate) Thus, the patriarchy was able to reestablish itself using the Bible as justification. This type of scripture twisting continues in today’s modern Fundagelical churches. As churches commited to the truth, we must interpretet the Bible in context rather than twist it to justify our patriarchial goals.
I’m guessing that Pastor Stewart Allan-Clark and the Deacons of First General Baptist Church in Malden have learned their lesson and will target their hashtags and Google ads to insiders rather than outsiders. I’m sure they don’t want dangerous ideas like egalitarianism to enter their church.
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