Pastor Stewart-Allen Clark
Pastor Stewart-Allen Clark of the First General Baptist Church in Malden, Missouri, preaches a sermon telling women that "weight control" is the solution for marital problems. (Source: Video screengrab)

General Baptist Pastor Who Criticized Wives’ Weight ‘Deeply Sorry’ for Sermon

By Adelle Banks

The pastor of a General Baptist congregation, who last month preached that “weight control” by wives could solve marital problems, has apologized publicly to his congregation.

In a statement posted to the website of First General Baptist Church of Malden, Missouri, Pastor Stewart-Allen Clark wrote: “In the sermon, I made insensitive remarks about women and made statements deemed unbiblical. To the ladies within the church, ladies in the community, and those viewing our Livestream; I want to say I am deeply sorry for any and all pain or distress that my words brought on you.” 

Clark’s statement comes in response to a sermon he preached February 21, which was removed by his church, but not before it was grabbed by the Friendly Atheist, who posted excerpts online that went viral. 

“Why is it so many times that women after they get married let themselves go?” Clark asked in the sermon, standing on a stage with what appeared to be a large open Bible in his left hand. “Why do they do that?”

In his new statement, Clark, who’s been on a leave of absence since Feb. 28, noted that he has been meeting with a professional counselor.

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“I want to say to the church that I’m truly sorry that I embarrassed you,” he said in the statement addressed to “Dear Church & Community.”

“I recognize and understand that what I said was imprudent and discourteous. I sincerely ask for your forgiveness and to be restored as your pastor. I genuinely believe this is the best way forward.”

Clark could not be immediately reached to determine if he had returned to the church or its pulpit.

The deacons of the church also posted a statement on the church website, which added their own apology for what they considered to be complacency about how their church’s pulpit was used.

“We, the deacons of the First General Baptist Church of Malden, Missouri, offer this unreserved apology to our congregation, our surrounding communities, our denomination, and the followers of Jesus Christ everywhere,” they wrote. “We bear the blame for not offering our pastor counsel, correction, and restoration when errors or inappropriate content was presented.”

The deacons recommended prayer for “unity and harmony” in the congregation going forward.

“We are called to model Christ’s love through forgiveness and restoration toward our Pastor,” they wrote. “This is our goal and we encourage the congregation toward the same love and forgiveness.”

In early March, the leaders of the General Baptist Council of Associations stated Clark had resigned from the position of moderator of the General Association of General Baptists meeting scheduled for July 2022.

“The sermon included comments that are not consistent with the positions and values of General Baptists,” said their statement, which was posted on Facebook. “General Baptists believe that every woman was created in the image of God, and they should be valued for that reason.”

Adelle Banks is production editor and a national correspondent at Religion News Service.

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35 thoughts on “General Baptist Pastor Who Criticized Wives’ Weight ‘Deeply Sorry’ for Sermon”

  1. Like all of us at times, I hope he has learned from his mistake, the real issue, and only he knows is if he attitude in his heart has changed on how he views women. I truly hope so.
    I also hope that he allows others to see his notes before he speaks. It would be really helpful if he reached out and sought the opinion of the women of his congregation
    when he spoke about issues involving that gender. Any woman would have told him he was sexist and wrong to preach that hurtful sermon.

    1. I didn’t find the apology compelling at all. “..made statements deemed unbiblical”, implies that others deemed them so, not Clark himself.

      A real apology would have been “I made statements that were unbiblical and unChristlike and I repent and turn away from them completely.”

  2. I will say that I appreciate the tone of the apology. Too often we hear “I’m sorry IF I offended someone” – or something similar with a defensive element to it. This seems straightforward and sincere. It’s a good lesson for all of us to think more biblically and speak with more care and respect – whether we are in the pulpit or not.

  3. I agree with Dan Crabtree that the apology didn’t have any of the usual squirming out of taking responsibility that often accompanies a public apology.

    But I’m curious as to why he (Stewart-Allen Clark) considered that remark acceptable in the first place. What was the thought process that resulted in him looking over his notes and thinking, “yeah, ridiculing women who are overweight is the right approach to take to make the point.”?

    1. The public remark simply reveals Stewart-Allen Clark’s private views…and the fact that he is unaccustomed to being challenged for them.

      It also expressed his politics, since he went on to say “Now, look, I’m not saying every woman can be the epic, the epic trophy wife of all time, like Melania Trump — I’m not saying that at all, not everybody looks like that! Amen?!”

    1. Lesli Washington

      Maybe he was conveying issues he has with his own marriage. Maybe that’s the deeper issue. I pray he gets the help he needs.

  4. I couldn’t disagree more with the commenters who think this sounds sincere. I don’t think this even sounds like a real apology. I think the language he uses seems very careful to “sound” like an apology without actually being one. When he says, “….I am sorry for the pain that my WORDS brought on you”, it’s as if he’s saying, “Hey! Can I help it if the truth offends you?!” What he does not say that he is sorry for his heart attitude towards women because it’s his heart that is the source and origin of everything he originally said. Saying that his words were “discourteous” and “imprudent” seems to imply that he still thinks they’re true, but were just incorrectly used in a public setting, and he again puts the blame on his words and not his heart. No language is being used in this faux apology that would make one think that he actually views women any differently, sees his own actions in any different light, or shows that he has an understanding that women in toxic, stressful, broken or abusive marriages (who, sadly, came to him for marital counseling in the past) often do put on weight from the constant exposure and overload of the stress hormone cortisol that dumps into their bodies. I see no understanding mentioned of a husband’s role (potentially) in any of this marital distress. I see nothing in this carefully-worded “apology” language that shows me any kind of true change in this pastor’s heart, and the fact that he wants to hurry up and get back in the pulpit is a warning light to this church. What a joke. I would fire him if I were on that church board. He should not be in this line of work, and he’ll never be any different. I feel sorry for the women who will be sitting under his “teaching” in the future.

  5. Doesn’t sound like much of an apology. “I…made statements deemed unbiblical.” How about “made statements that WERE unbiblical”? Instead of, “I am deeply sorry for any and all pain or distress that my words brought on you,” “I am sorry for my off-base and offensive words.” Instead of, “I want to say to the church that I’m truly sorry that I embarrassed you,” how about “I’m truly sorry that I preached such a wrong message to you.”

    “I recognize and understand that what I said was imprudent and discourteous. I sincerely ask for your forgiveness and to be restored as your pastor. I genuinely believe this is the best way forward.” What he said was more than imprudent and discourteous; those words are euphemistic. Asking for forgiveness is of course appropriate but asking in the same sentence to be restored because he genuinely believes it’s the best way forward doesn’t show much repentance or humility. He seems to have a ways to go towards “restoration,” and I truly hope he can get there.

  6. I agree with the comments about the problems with the “apology”. And why is he already talking about restoration? Oh, because that is the point of the “apology”….. to get his job back instead of repenting for how he was not representing Christ.

    1. Patty Montgomery

      Absolutely right, AIS. If someone truly repents of their sin, they don’t ask for immediate removal of the consequences of the sin. Instead, there is genuine sorrow, not just about getting caught, but about the pain inflicted on others, especially when it’s done in God’s name. I don’t see any of that in his ‘apology’.

  7. I am so glad to see that some of the commenters see through this weak “apology.” The fact that he never says he was wrong – that he never laments that he objectified women and treated them as anything but equal heirs in the Kingdom – stands out in what he had to say. The fact that he claims that what he said was “deemed” unbiblical – rather than completely opposite of the heart of God – is telling and shocking. This was in no way repentance or an admission of having done anything actually wrong, but only imprudent and insensitive. This “apology” is actually the man thumbing his nose at everyone who was willing to call him out.

    Since the leadership has chosen to keep him, I guess it will be up to the congregants to vote with their feet.

    1. I hope he knows he’s forgiven.
      I know I’ve said things I thought were right and they were way off in a Church setting.
      God bless this pastor.

      1. I hope he knows he’s forgiven if he has truly repented. We have no hope of forgiveness if we do not truly repent.

        This “apology” doesn’t seem to show true repentance to me, but God knows!

  8. It is also extremely interesting to me that female commenters (like myself…which I realize is not obvious from my handle) could spot the faux apology a mile away, yet the male commenters, at least at this point in the comments, seemed to fall for it.

    Not knowing anything else but our handles, perhaps it really has nothing to do with gender – maybe it’s a generational or or regional thing – but it didn’t surprise me in the least that the women were quick to spot a weak apology. As the gender that is more likely to be at the mercy of male leaders, I think our “run away radar” gets fine-tuned a little more quickly than men who are generally on a more equal footing with the males in their lives – and, therefore, don’t need to spot a charlatan as quickly as women need to.

    1. As a male, and individual in what ever region I’m in, and wary of assumptions of being seen as equal, I immediately noted the elders claim they are to blame for not restoring him to his style of pastorship.

  9. Maybe his congregation should buy this clown a mirror, and while they’re at it some decent clothes. Remind him that Jesus has little love for hypocrites.

  10. If it’s true That he said, per the atheist ink, that if pretty woman from the south are southern bells does that make pretty woman from Mexico Taco Bell’s, he has to go. He really doesn’t sound like someone that needs to be kept around fueling the flames of stupidity. Personally I’d already be finding a new church.

  11. When Pastor Lumpy Rutherford shows his true colors the first time, believe him.

    He may sugar-coat his message for a while, but it’s not sincere. It’s not him.

    His true nature is that of a narrow-minded misogynist. Expect more of the same.

  12. When this story first came out, I felt such deep grief that a pastor with such a big stage could reveal such a horrid heart towards women. Then more grief that the story hit secular media, and sickened that society might paint all pastors and churches alike. His words were not superficial, nor funny like he seemed to think. They revealed a deeply-rooted attitude that doesn’t quickly turn-around.

    My heart goes out to his wife. I wonder if she has safe people to confide in. It’s so difficult for a pastor’s wife to reveal what’s real. His apology amounts to an abuser’s “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Please tell me the congregation and leadership have thought how to support her.

  13. While I can appreciate his attempt to rectify a wrong, there are consequences for our actions. One does not get to use a pulpit to abuse people, particularly women. He does not belong in a pulpit. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh…”

  14. And the real issue here is the belly on this beast….can’t believe he is talking about OTHERS weight problem….

    But since evangelicals like to talk about what others are doing with their genitalia…well…might as well punch into other areas….:-)

    1. Click the link for friendly atheists. States what he’s said in the past. Pretty southern girls are southern bells where pretty Mexican girls are Taco Bell’s. Can’t believe anybody is still attending this church. And the powers at the church are still discussing his options? Fire him. Christian churches have so many spineless leaders. Forgiveness is one think but still allowing to lead is another. Julie Roy has documented so many stories of spineless Christian leaders allowing people to continue doing there evil under the guise of forgiveness then allowing a second and third and fourth chance. Enough Christian leaders. Stop being such snowflakes. Would Jesus allow a bad teacher to continue? And About that forgiveness 7 x 70. It didn’t apply to letting victims be continually be victimized.

  15. Mark my words, cliques of trustees and elders are putting these lunatics up front on purpose. They want to hear us making a noise. It’s called dialectic, and ratcheting.

    1. Trustees of that kind “need” pawns whom they can put up to “designer scandals” as cynical melodrama, in order to normalise demoralisation among the public. Never mind the bait – just switch switch switch.

  16. “Lumpy Rutherford.” Spot on.
    There was a repeating sketch on Saturday Night Live many moons ago where the key lines were, “Look at yourself. Have you looked at yourself lately? Look at yourself.”
    This dude needs to look at himself before he stands in judgment of anyone — female or male — on their weight control.

  17. ” I sincerely ask for your forgiveness and to be restored as your pastor. I genuinely believe this is the best way forward.” Really? A truly humble, repentant heart would accept the consequences of ones sin…not try to control and minimize those consequences. If he’s this bad in public, imagine what he’s like behind closed doors… I smell an abuser.

  18. This sounds like a complete non-apology. Neither this pastor nor his elders seem to actually be taking accountability here. Rather, it reads as a silver-tongued version of, “I’m sorry if your feelings got hurt.” Moreover, why did it take this long for the situation to have been addressed?

    This seems like a classic example of “too little, too late.” 😕

  19. No way should this minister even be considered for restoration, until he has repented of both gluttony and hypocrisy: because presumably he became so fat himself, owing to over-eating and under-exercising.

    His overseers should make losing 30 pounds one condition of his restoration. Let him humble himself and fast for several months, showing everyone that he has mastered his appetites – whilst also learning how to master his mouth.

    Then – and only then – should he be considered for possible restoration to the pulpit.

    This man needs to spend a great deal of time in the Book of Proverbs – putting a metaphorical knife to his throat and a gag over his mouth – for a season.

    That will help sort out his spiritual issues.

  20. On The Other Hand

    The internet is a double edged sword. Many more can easily hear the Word. But any gaffe, poorly thought out remark, etc. is instantly “news.” Most preachers say some dumb thing sometime, usually it’s an off the cuff remark or an ad lib or a joke that falls flat. It used to be a preacher could apologize to the people offended or clarify the poorly worded remark in a subsequent sermon. Congregations were often pretty forgiving. Sermons were church family affairs. Now anything said online can be sky-lined by some aggrieved person or group. But if you carry the sermon live online, you take this risk. It’s the new reality.

    The ironic thing is that he is half-right. BOTH husbands and wives do often “let themselves go” in appearance, hygiene, and emotional support. And some are less courteous, kind, polite, and considerate of spouses than they would be a stranger. Lots of factors enter into this. Life can be challenging and exhausting. And home should also be a place where one can relax and let one’s hair down. But, we should strive to keep the romance in our marriages. The outward appearance is not the most important aspect of life for sure. But when Paul tells us that we are “temples of the Holy Spirit,” good stewardship of the bodies is implied. The Bible teaches us moderation in eating and drinking, and even that physical exercise has some profit.

    I recently was at a hospital for a check up. As a courtesy, I was transported by wheelchair to a room for some tests. I was so shocked when I got in the wheelchair. The seat was so wide, three of me could have sat in it. I asked the nurse about it. She told me they had to order all these supersize wheelchairs because so many patients are massively obese. A quick walk through an airport demonstrates the same reality. To beat our bodies down into poor shape, inviting disease and infirmity, is not God-honoring, not for men or women. . .

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