LifeWay won’t sell ‘womanhood’ book

A first-person book exploring what Scripture really says about “biblical womanhood” won’t be available at bookstores owned by the Southern Baptist Convention.

By Bob Allen

A new book by an author who for one year kept her vow to follow literally every instruction for women found in the Bible won’t be sold at LifeWay Christian Stores.

rachel held evansRachel Held Evans, whose anticipated book A Year of Biblical Womanhood is due out Oct. 30, reported on her blog that a few weeks ago she got word that the her book wouldn’t be available at 165 bookstores owned by the Southern Baptist Convention’s publishing arm, LifeWay Christian Resources.

Evans said in an update that she isn’t certain why her book was rejected, but in her original post she speculated it might be because of earlier blogs discussing whether her use of the word “vagina” in a couple of references might discourage Christian bookstores from selling it.

She also mentioned another blog, where she claimed that Christian bookstores have a “chokehold” on Christian publishing that stifles creativity and sends many authors like her shopping for other publishers.

LifeWay Christian Resources responded with a statement saying the company does not comment on reasons why it chooses specific products out of thousands that it reviews, but factors include “alignment with evangelical beliefs, past sales by an author and how they fit within LifeWay's values and vision.”

LifeWay carried Evans’ first book, Evolving in Monkeytown, about her experience growing up in Dayton, Tenn., the town made famous by the Scopes “monkey trial” over evolution in the 1920s.

A LifeWay spokesman said the company doesn’t release sales figures, but Evans’ previous book sold an average of less than one copy per LifeWay store.

womanhood coverEvans’ new book is being marketed much more aggressively than the first. She has been speaking about it for months and recently engaged in public debates with the anti-feminist Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood based on the campus of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

Evans will be the featured speaker at an Oct. 18-19 retreat in Kentucky for Current, an organization of young leaders active in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Her project involved immersing herself in a quest to obey all the Bible’s commands for women as literally as possible, from Genesis to Revelation, with no picking and choosing. Her often-humorous adventure included calling her husband “master,” taking on the impossible task of living up to the qualities of an ideal woman described in Proverbs 31, and at one point even sitting on her roof.

Evans said that other major Christian bookstore chains plan to carry the book, as will Amazon, Barnes & Noble and almost everywhere books are sold.