SBC Sparks Debate with Disfellowshiping of Saddleback Church

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) recently voted to disfellowship five churches for employing female ministers.[0] Among these churches was Saddleback Church, one of the country’s biggest megachurches.[1] The disfellowshiping of Saddleback Church has sparked debate about the values and priorities of the SBC and its interpretation of Scripture.

Linda Barnes Popham, a pastor at Fern Creek Baptist in Louisville, Ky. and one of the expelled churches, said she believes the decision is “driven by power, male supremacy; and it stinks in the nostrils of God.” Here & Now’s Jane Clayson gets the latest from Kate Shellnutt, news director at Christianity Today.[1]

The action taken by the SBC has caused many to question why this is the issue that warranted censure, while other pastoral misdeeds are overlooked or ignored. While Saddleback founder Rick Warren has been lauded and criticized for his moderate positions and occasional criticism of Donald Trump, the church has made political associations that might have raised concerns elsewhere.[2]

The SBC’s decision to disfellowship Saddleback Church has sparked a conversation about the interpretation of Scripture, values, and priorities, and has caused many to question why this is the issue that warranted censure. It remains to be seen how this decision will shape the future of the SBC.

0. “Southern Baptists expel 5 churches because they have female pastors” WPRL, 1 Mar. 2023,

1. “Southern Baptist Convention ousts megachurch for employing female ministers” WVXU, 1 Mar. 2023,

2. “Saddleback's Ordination of Women Was Final Straw for Southern Baptist Convention — Not Scandal, Sexual Abuse, or …” Religion Dispatches, 27 Feb. 2023,

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