By AT News Team, May 8, 2015: Newsmax published a list of the five top denominations with the most traditional stance on women clergy this week. The Seventh-day Adventist Church ranked third after Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and the Roman Catholic Church.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) ranked the most traditional. It “allows women to hold unpaid positions in the church and deliver sermons and offer prayer in Sunday services,” the international online news service said. “But maintains its ban on women serving as priests.” Newsmax quoted former Brigham Young University president Gordon B. Hinckley as stating that the reason is because God “designated that men in his church should hold the priesthood.”
The Roman Catholic Church ranked second most traditional on this topic, according to Newsmax. It “maintains a centuries’ old ban on women under the reasoning that the church has no authority to confer priestly ordination of women,” the publication stated. It noted that some bishops have called for a change in this rule.
Although Newsmax ranked the Adventist denomination third, its explanation of the reasoning behind the Adventist tradition is much less clear than the others. “Some have challenged this old decree,” Newsmax reported, giving as an example a vote in 2012 by the denomination’s Danish Union Conference to halt all clergy ordinations until after the General Conference Session in July of this year. Newsmax included some information that is out of date and cited an Adventist source that is not well-informed.
The Orthodox Church ranks fourth on the list with the explanation that it “follows a line of reasoning that reflects those of the Roman Catholics.” Newsmax also stated that the Orthodox Church in America venerates a woman in Orthodox history named Theotokos as “more honorable than the cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the seraphim” (orders of angels) and “holds her up as a model for all of God’s people, male and female alike.”
The Jehovah’s Witnesses organization ranks fifth on the list. “Women are allowed to be ordained to go … door to door to recruit new members [but] deacons and elders must be male,” Newsmax reports. “Women may only conduct services when there is special need.” Samuel Herd, a member of the denomination’s governing body, is quoted with the reason for the ban: “Women have smaller brains, thus not built for leadership roles like men are.”
Seven other religious groups are listed as less strong in holding onto the tradition of excluding women from the clergy. Most Christian denominations “have changed that antiquated policy,” Newsmax stated.
What the Newsmax editors evidently did not know is the Adventist connection to this issue over the years. James White, a cofounder of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, was a pastor in the Christian Connection prior to founding of the Adventist denomination. The Christian Connection was the first denomination to ordain women as clergy, evidently with White’s support. He long argued against those who criticized his wife, Ellen G. White, for functioning as a preacher and leader in the Adventist movement. She long held credentials as an ordained minister in the denomination. Her voluminous writings continue to have spiritual authority among Adventists.