Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson told reporters on Friday that he believes Seventh-Day Adventists should ordain women, expressing disagreement with current prohibitions against female headship.
“I don’t see any reason why women can’t be ordained,” he said, opining that it was a “huge mistake” for Adventist leaders to vote against female ordination.
Carson was referring to July’s 60th General Conference Session in San Antonio, where by a vote of 1,381 to 977 delegates voted no to the question, “Is it acceptable for division executive committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry?”
Carson told the Associated Press that he was raised Adventist, but that while studying at Yale University he went through a period where he considered leaving due to concerns over perceived prejudices against others.
He attended Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist and Lutheran services for a time, but ended up staying with Seventh-Day Adventism.
“I concluded it was the right church, just the wrong people. The church was very segregated,” Carson said. “You know, if you have the love of God in your heart, it seems like you wouldn’t do that. That has changed fairly significantly since that time.”
He explained that he doesn’t agree with founder Ellen G. White’s rejection of Roman Catholicism.
“I love Catholics,” Carson stated. “My best friend is Catholic. I have several honorary degrees from Catholic universities.”
As previously reported, fellow Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump clarified his remarks last week after some took his recent statement that he doesn’t “know about” Seventh Day Adventists to be a jab at Carson.
“I know nothing about it really. I’m a Presbyterian and I had mentioned that, and I did say I don’t know about it. And in fact those are my exact words,” Trump said on ABC’s This Week. “I didn’t say anything bad about it. I just don’t know about it. I would certainly give an apology if I said something bad about it. But I didn’t. All I said was I don’t know about it.”
At a campaign event in Iowa a day earlier, Trump appeared to some as portraying Carson’s faith as out of the mainstream.
“I love Iowa. And, look, I don’t have to say it, I’m Presbyterian,” Trump said. “Can you believe it? Nobody believes I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. Boy, that’s down the middle of the road folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don’t know about. I just don’t know about.”
Seventh-Day Adventists follow White’s teachings, who they believe to have been a prophetess. They observe Saturday as the Sabbath, and as White wrote in her book “The Great Controversy,” opine that “[w]hen Sunday observance shall be enforced by law, … those who continue in transgression [with Sunday worship] will receive ‘the mark of the beast.’”
“This church would not be where it is without the special guidance given it by God through Ellen White in the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy,” Ted N.C. Wilson, the grandson of SDA President Nathaniel Wilson stated last month at a Spirit of Prophecy Symposium at Andrews University. “In the Seventh-day Adventist Church we accept Ellen G. White as a modern servant of the Lord and prophet.”
Adventists also believe in the “annihilation of the wicked,” rejecting the doctrine of eternal torment out of their assertion that the Bible and early Christian writings “did not mean eternal punishing, but rather punishment in the world to come that ends in cessation of being,” as outlined in “The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers” by Adventist author LeRoy Edwin Froom.