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Pennsylvania Pastor Bans Women From Church Fishing Trip For Mind-Bogglingly Sexist Reason

Action News 4

Emily Smaniotto attended the annual Wild Game Dinner at Bethel Baptist Church with her father and was excited when she won a spot on the church's prize of a fishing trip.

But the victory was short-lived after Smaniotto was informed by the church's pastor, Reverend Bryan Kelley, it was an "all-male trip" and female raffle winners would not be considered.

Smaniotto reportedly attends the Wild Game Dinner with her father every year, but this was the first year the father-daughter pair won a prize.

When the raffle was announced, donated by a speaker visiting the church, it was explained it was for a weekend fishing trip in Ohio and was for men-only with the joke to "leave wives at home" followed by laughter.

Smaniotto, of course, thought this last detail was a joke, and when she saw another woman enter the raffle, she decided to enter, as well.

Smaniotto recalled:

"She was the first name to be called [with a winning ticket]."
"As soon as they called her name, the pastor immediately shut her down."
"He said, 'Absolutely not, this is a male-only trip. Females are unable to attend, so we're just going to keep drawing names until we get a male.'"
"So, surprisingly enough, my name was the second one to be drawn, and I got the same letdown."

Not only was it a "male-only trip," but the Reverend soon only made matters worse.

Smaniotto reflected:

"They pretty much scolded us for being female."

The Reverend had reasoned that a woman on the trip would invite scandal, as well as possible sexual assault accusations, in light of the recent "#MeToo" movement.

Twitter was greatly displeased with the church and wondered why women would want to go there.




In response, Reverend Kelley made a statement.

Kelley tried to explain in more depth the church's reasoning.

"The church gives away door prizes every year, which are available to all in attendance, so long as they are of legal age and no criminal record in the case of a firearm."
"Aside from what the church offered, the speaker on his own offered separate gifts apart from the church for men only and made it clear that was the stipulation."

Kelley also indirectly referenced the #MeToo movement.

"Living in the days of sexual scandals and accusations, many pastors, including myself, take the personal position that we will not put ourselves in a position that could bring about a false accusation and thus bring a multitude of problems, hence why he personally offered them for men only."
"It was a matter of personal standards and protection, and there was no intent of discrimination."
"So when the cards for those particular prizes were collected, it was once again announced that the stipulation on behalf of the donor was for men only. Unfortunately, at least two ladies, for whatever reason, put their cards in that container, although the stipulations were given twice, and their names were drawn and declined because of the stipulations that were announced."

Kelley went on to address Smaniotto.

"I learned yesterday that the young lady was offended and tried reaching out to her dad today, who has always done the communicating for the event, and unfortunately, there was no answer."
"I would like to sit and talk with them both to express a sincere apology and to assure her it was a lack of communication on our part to explain all the information more clearly and a lesson learned to think things through more clearly, so we do not make the same mistake again."
"I spoke with the gentleman that offered the prize, and he is more than willing to arrange a time for her and her dad to go out together and fish together."
"The church highly respects all women and would by no means do anything intentional to make one feel they were discriminated against, and we once again express our deepest apologies to the young lady and will exercise greater caution moving forward."

Smaniotto was not pleased with the church's handling of the situation.

"I absolutely will not partake in any fishing trips with anyone from that church. I was denied once and don't want a pity prize."
"I want equal rights."
"[Kelley and the church are] implying that women will always accuse them of sexual scandals."
"If they were afraid of this, maybe they should have made it a rule that more than one woman has to attend the trip, to even the numbers so to speak, to prevent this, but they didn't. They strictly kept it to only men and that was their 'personal choice.'"
"It was not even an option to discuss the trip details if a female would have won. I would do anything possible to attend a trip like this."
"It was very, very wrong. I'm sorry I had to sit through that."

Though the church may want to make amends, their thinking was questionable in the first place.

It's understandable why Smaniotto would not want to accept an apology from them.