Gospel Today’s controversial cover
In some bookstores pornographic magazines are stored under the front counter to shield customers from their provocative covers, but in the more than 100 Lifeway Christian Bookstores across the country, the current issue of Gospel Today has been pulled from shelves and likewise tucked away because of the cover story.
The five ladies on the front of the magazine are all dressed in black, not because they are models, however, but because they are clergy.
Lifeway Christian Bookstores has pulled the magazine from its shelves because the chain’s owner, the Southern Baptist Convention, reserves the role of pastor for men.
Chris Turner, a spokesman for Lifeway Resources, which runs the stores for the Southern Baptist Convention, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the September/October issue of Gospel Today was pulled because “it is contrary to what we believe.”
While individual churches within the denomination are independent and may hire female pastors if they choose, Southern Baptist national polity discourages women from serving as senior pastors, based on the application of various New Testament Scriptures.
Teresa Hairston, owner of Gospel Today, which describes itself as a magazine for the urban Christian community, told the Journal-Constitution she was shocked by the bookstore’s decision.
“We weren’t trying to pick a fight,” Hairston said. “We just did a story on an emerging trend in a lot of churches.”
Pastor Tamara Bennett, one of the featured pastors on the magazine cover, talks in the feature article about her perspective on women in ministry.
“God’s assignment is that no souls are lost and all are saved,” Bennett said. “Gender is not how God sees it. We are about winning souls, period.”