‘Cru’ Official Demoted for Refusing to Let Women Teach the Bible to Men

While the Church of England wrestles with the recent narrow, and perhaps temporary defeat of a bid to approve the ordination of women as bishops, a major evangelical organization is standing behind its own model requiring leadership to be shared between men and women.  

Cru, formerly known as the Campus Crusade for Christ, demoted Daniel Harman from his position as Louisville ‘Missional Team Leader’ when he refused to allow women to teach mixed-gender Bible studies. Harmon, like many evangelicals who oppose women’s ordination, believes the Bible prohibits women from being in spiritual leadership over men. 

Thomas Kidd writes about the issue in World Magazine. Here’s an excerpt:

This fall…one of Louisville’s female Cru staff members asked Harman for clarification about whether women could teach the Bible in mixed-gender Cru meetings, and Harman said they could not. The exchange came to the attention of regional Cru officials, who met with Harman and reiterated Cru’s policy of “men and women leading together.” They gave Harman three weeks to reconsider his position, and said that if he remained “dogmatic” about the issue, he could no longer serve as Missional Team Leader. Harman decided that he would not change the practice, and Cru demoted him.

As campus director at Louisville, Harman has permitted female staff to speak in front of mixed-gender audiences on a number of ministry-related topics, and to assume numerous leadership roles relative to both female and male students. But Harman contends that Scripture prohibits women teaching the Bible to adult men (including those of college age), based on passages such as 1 Timothy 2:11-12, in which Paul says, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”

Mark DeMoss, a spokesman representing Cru, argues that the personnel issue is essentially about policy, not theology: “A local campus leader for Cru in Kentucky was asked to relinquish his current leadership position, not because of a theological disagreement, but rather, because of a failure to abide by the terms for holding a position of leadership within Cru,” he told me. 

Peter Montgomery, an associate editor for Religion Dispatches, is a Senior Fellow at People For the American Way Foundation where he was on staff for 15 years. Before that he was associate director of grassroots lobbying for Common Cause and wrote for Common Cause Magazine, an award-winning journal featuring investigative reporting about the federal government.