US Baptists tell women to submit to husbands

AMERICA'S RELIGIOUS right has a message for women: they should "submit themselves graciously" to their husbands.

The idea was agreed by the Southern Baptist Convention, America's largest Protestant denomination. The corollary is that a husband should "provide for, protect and lead his family". Both are now written into the group's basic statement of beliefs, its Baptist Faith and Message. It is the first time that the doctrine has been amended since 1963, and shows how the religious right is increasingly taking charge of mainstream groups.

Amongst the luminaries who are members of the SBC are the President and Vice President, though it seems unlikely that Hillary Clinton, in particular, will submit herself in any way whatsoever, graciously or not.

The amendment was put forward at the SBC's annual meeting, held in Salt Lake City, Utah. The SBC and the Mormons are increasingly close. About a quarter of Americans are evangelical Protestants, and the SBC, the leading light, has gradually led them towards the right over the past two decades.

"A wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the Church willingly submits to the headship of God," says the declaration. She "has the God-given responsibility to serve as his 'helper' in managing their household and nurturing the next generation."

The meeting also approved a statement against gay marriages.