'Women in Combat' Issue Goes Down in Defeat
Philadelphia Presbytery's extensive overture, which had called on the Assembly to condemn the use of women in combat, was answered in the negative. The Assembly adopted the position of the Bills and Overtures (B&O) Committee, which had voted 18-4-0 to turn down the overture.
Among the concerns mentioned during debate for approving the overture were the question of whether the church may address the civil magistrate on the matter, and whether or not the logic of prohibiting women in combat implied that women may not serve in the military at all.
A minority report from eight members of the B&O Committee, led by Dr. Morton H. Smith (who flew B-17s in WWII), had presented a truncated version of Philadelphia's overture which they hoped would satisfy concerns raised by the majority. Helping to lead the charge in favor of taking a position was Philadelphia Presbytery's RE Robert Miller (USN, Retd), head of an organization called Hope for America. Mr. Miller has been in contact with leading politicians in Washington, who have sought his counsel on the question. Also speaking passionately in favor was retired Army chaplain Bob Slimp of Palmetto Presbytery, who claimed that the magistrates are crying out for the church to share its wisdom on the matter.
But speaking against was former Navy chaplain Don Clements, who urged that there was insufficient Biblical and confessional warrant for the church taking a position. The Assembly, by a significant margin, voted down the minority's substitute. It also turned away a watered-down version offered by TE Skip Dusenbury, a graduate of the Citadel.