DALLAS — A group of Southern Baptists are divided over a seminary's decision to dismiss a female faculty member because officials there believe women should not be allowed to teach men in theology programs.
Sheri Klouda received her doctorate from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and was hired for a tenure-track position in 2002 teaching Hebrew in the theology school. But in 2004, she was told she would not get tenure and should look for another job, a series of events confirmed by Van McClain, chairman of the Southwestern trustees.
Southwestern is taking the "traditional, confessional and biblical position" that women should not teach men in theology or biblical languages, McClain said. That position is based on a Biblical verse in which the Apostle Paul says, "I permit no woman to teach or have authority over a man."
Klouda's hiring, McClain said, was a "momentary lax of the parameters" of the seminary.
Klouda said she was told her contract would not be renewed because she is a woman. She is now a professor at Taylor University in Indiana.
"I don't think it was right to hire me to do this job, to put me in the position where I, in good faith, assumed that I was working toward tenure, and then suddenly remove me without any cause other than gender," she said.
No women teach theology or biblical languages at Southwestern, McClain said. Women do teach music and other classes at the seminary, he said.
An Oklahoma pastor who has emerged as a vocal critic of the seminary complained that the school treated Klouda unfairly.
"Sheri Klouda is not a pastor, she has not been ordained or licensed, she does not perform ministerial duties. She is a professor, for heaven's sake," Wade Burleson said. "The same institution that conferred her degree and hired her has now removed her for gender. To me, that is a very serious, ethical, moral breach."
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