Woman Sues Historic Baptist Church, Alleging Gender Discrimination In Senior Pastor Hiring

January 11, 2024

CBS News reports that Eboni Marshall Turman, an associate professor at Yale Divinity School and former assistant minister at Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York.

She is suing the church and the former search committee chair for gender discrimination.

The complaint, filed in US District Court on December 29, alleges that Turman was not hired as the senior pastor due to gender bias. The church denies the claims, emphasizing its commitment to faith and fairness Associated Press reported.

Following the passing of Rev. Calvin O. Butts III in 2022, a search committee, mostly comprising women, interviewed over 40 candidates, including Turman.

Last September, she learned she was not among the five male finalists. The church contends that Turman fell short of key requirements, leading to the selection of other candidates.


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Valerie S. Grant, the former search committee chair, has not commented on the lawsuit. Turman asserts that Grant, without the committee’s authorization, communicated in writing that Turman wasn’t a finalist to become the first woman.

The lawsuit claims gender discrimination was openly discussed within the committee, with one member stating Abyssinian would only hire a female senior pastor “over my dead body.”

Despite objections from some committee members citing gender discrimination, Turman was excluded from the finalist pool. Turman alleges that Butts praised her but stated the church would never hire a woman as a senior pastor.

The lawsuit seeks damages for economic loss and an injunction against future gender discrimination in hiring.

Please check back for more details.

Photo credit: Wiki.

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