UPDATED November 12, 2021: Earlier this week, the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) singled out one Texas church for criticism as part of a fundraising push in their newsletter. Instead of giving to the CBMW, many donors opted to give to the church CBMW criticized instead.
That church was First Baptist Church of Elm Mott, where the husband of author and Christian historian Beth Allison Barr serves as lead pastor. Barr is the author of “The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth,” wherein Barr recasts a vision for gender roles in the evangelical church, making the case for an egalitarian view.
CBMW, which exists to promote the complementarian view of gender, is apparently very concerned with the success and influence of Barr’s book, making mention of it in their November newsletter alongside “Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation,” which was authored by historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez.
While Barr does not hold any official role at First Baptist Church, CBMW still singled out the church, with CBMW executive director Colin J. Smothers accusing it of challenging “God’s revelation.” Smothers used First Baptist as an example of why CBMW exists, then pointing to the organization’s need for donations.
As the newsletter began circulating online, many began donating to First Baptist in lieu of the donations that Smothers requested for CBMW, encouraging others to do the same. In an outpouring of support for Barr and her church, donations have flooded into First Baptist this week, along with offers from many to donate their time and skills to help with the church’s website.
This influx of donations came at a time when First Baptist needed it the most. In an interview with RNS, Barr said that First Baptist has been struggling financially as a result of the pandemic, as well as recently being embezzled for more than $150K by a former church secretary.
Despite her theological disagreements with CBMW, Barr has expressed that her real concerns were CBMW’s personal attack on her church, as well as the fact that they called into question the genuineness of her personal faith.
“I told the @CBMWorg not to go after my orthodoxy. They didn’t listen,” Barr tweeted. “You can be a faithful Christian and reject patriarchy as unbiblical because it isn’t gospel truth.” She later added, “There is a difference between civil disagreement and personal attacks. And if you do not know the difference, figure it out.”
Throughout the week, Barr has tweeted updates regarding incoming donations. “More than $6500 from 80 donors has been given to our church,” she tweeted on Wednesday. “That is close to paying for a month of our operating budget. We are overwhelmed, humbled, & in awe of you.”