Burnett Robinson Resigned; Now What?
- When Burnett Robinson resigned, his credentials were removed.
- “It is almost impossible for him to be employed anywhere in the denomination — worldwide,” said Monte Sahlin, a former administrator in the Adventist church.
- Though Robinson is gone, the misogyny, the lack of respect for women as human beings and for their bodily autonomy, and the shaming and repression of women’s sexuality that Robinson represents is still here, according to AT writer Lindsey Abston Painter.
29 November 2021 | Burnett Robinson, whose remarks about marital rape sparked outrage across the world, resigned on Nov. 24, 2021, but even his resignation has drawn ire from many.
“Allowing him to resign still protects him as someone who perpetrated and advocates for violence against women. Absolutely disgusting. The Adventist church is only concerned with its image and not with aligning itself with the scriptures. SAD,” wrote Cynthia Ntoi on the Greater New York Conference of Seventh-day Adventists’ (GNYC) Facebook post about Robinson’s resignation.
A list of demands was repeatedly reposted on the GNYC story, with the first one being that the “Greater New York Conference to revoke all ordination and ministerial credentials of this pastor immediately.”
“We need word on the credentials. Too many people know that without clear action on that matter the door stays open for him and his views to work and minister and teach for the SDA church,” said Camil Carvajal on the GNYC post.
“I would hate to see him quietly relocated to another church, which is what the church typically does with men like him,” wrote Debra Ball Hann on the Adventist Today (AT) post.
However, Kevin Lampe, a communications consultant for the Adventist church, said Robinson is no longer a pastor in the denomination and would no longer be allowed to serve a Seventh-day Adventist church, according to an article from Religion News Service.
“His being removed as a pastor means: 1.) He is fired; 2.) His credentials are removed; and 3.) The facts are on record among conference administrators, so it is almost impossible for him to be employed anywhere in the denomination — worldwide,” said Monte Sahlin, who has been an administrator in the Adventist denomination at the conference (Ohio), union (Columbia Union Conference) and division (North American Division) levels.
Although Robinson’s credentials have been removed, it is also possible to annul an ordination.
“On rare occasions when an ordained minister does something really terrible, the denomination has a procedure by which they go back (perhaps many years) and annul the ordination of that person. It is something like the difference between a divorce and an annulment of a marriage,” said Sahlin.
To annul an ordination requires a vote of approval at the union level, said Sahlin. The union for the GNYC is the Atlantic Union Conference.
However, ordination is not required for one to preach a sermon in an Adventist church.
Still, it is “very, very unlikely” that Robinson will resurface in some other denominational employment, said Sahlin. “If he were to be employed again by a local conference somewhere it is because so much time has gone by that his sins have been forgotten because new, younger administrators have never heard of him and don’t do a good job of checking on his background.”
Though Robinson was removed from the church, some worry about what was left behind.
“This man’s conclusion about the right to rape one’s wife is the outgrowth of purity culture and headship theology, both of which the church does teach,” said AT writer Lindsey Abston Painter in a recent article on AT.
“The misogyny, the lack of respect for women as human beings and for their bodily autonomy, and the shaming and repression of women’s sexuality that he represents, is not gone.”