Beth Moore, a popular writer and speaker on the Bible, has quit the Southern Baptist Convention, and people in evangelical Christian circles are struggling to explain how big a deal that is for the largest U.S. Protestant denomination and the broader evangelical community, especially evangelical women.
Beth Moore leaving the Southern Baptist Convention is the religion news equivalent to Prince Harry leaving the royal firm.
A big and unthinkable deal.
— Diana Butler Bass (@dianabutlerbass) March 9, 2021
Moore told Religion News Service on Friday that she is “no longer a Southern Baptist,” RNS‘s Bob Smietana reported Tuesday. “I am still a Baptist, but I can no longer identify with Southern Baptists,” she added. “I love so many Southern Baptist people, so many Southern Baptist churches, but I don’t identify with some of the things in our heritage that haven’t remained in the past.” She also said she’s ended her 25-year publishing and events partnership with Lifeway Christian Resources, the SBC’s publishing arm.
Moore, who has said her local Southern Baptist church “growing up saved my live” as a refuge from sexual abuse at home, began her ministry by mixing Bible study into her aerobics class at First Baptist Church in Houston. Lifeway published her first book in 1995, and she then founded Living Proof Ministries. Southern Baptists do not allow women to be pastors, but her teaching ministry earned millions of dollars from 2001 to 2016.
Then, in October 2016, Moore was shocked at Donald Trump’s comments on the Access Hollywood tape — and more shocked that SBC leaders rallied around him. “The disorientation of this was staggering,” she told RNS. After Moore criticized Trump, she became something of a pariah. And when she became an advocate for victims of sexual abuse after the Houston Chronicle in February 2019 uncovered more than 700 cases of sexual abuse by Southern Baptist leaders over 20 years, she says she felt even more an outsider. From 2017 to 2019, RNS reports, Moore’s Living Proof Ministries lost $1.8 million .
“I do not believe these are days for mincing words,” Moore tweeted in December. “I’m 63 1/2 years old & I have never seen anything in these United States of America I found more astonishingly seductive & dangerous to the saints of God than Trumpism. This Christian nationalism is not of God. Move back from it.” Moore expects her audiences will be smaller now, she told RNS, but “I am going to serve whoever God puts in front of me.”