On March 27, 2021 Emmy Smaniotto was just out to have a good time with her dad, not looking for any trouble. They had attended the wild game dinner at Bethel Baptist Church in Pennsylvania together for the last several years and just wanted to have a little fun. She paid $10 for admission for this year’s event, like everyone else, and expected to be treated like everyone else. It never crossed her mind that the standards for men and women at the dinner were different.
Each guest was able to use their admission ticket as an entry to one of the raffles at the end of the evening. One of the bigger items, a bow-fishing expedition in Ohio, was being guided by a guest pastor at Bethel Baptist. He remarked that it would be a “guys-only” fishing trip and stated, “‘Make sure you leave those wives at home’. OK, I thought — is this a joke or …?” Smaniotto said.
She saw another woman put her ticket into the expedition’s raffle bucket and decided to put hers in too. When it was time to draw, the pastor pulled the other woman’s name from the bucket, but immediately declined the trip saying that it was for men only. The second name pulled from the bucket was Smaniotto and again, she was let down. “Because I’m a female, I couldn’t partake in this trip.”
“I have hunted and fished with so many men and have always been treated with respect, that I expected the same, especially from a church where all are created equal, but I was astonished when the reaction was not the same. ”
Surely this had to be some kind of mistake. In 2021, we certainly aren’t telling women that they can’t take a bow fishing expedition, are we? Well, Bethel Baptist Church sure is. But it wasn’t just because she’s a woman. It was to keep his church safe.
In a now-deleted Facebook post, Reverend Bryan Kelley explained the church’s decision.
“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 we personally offered them for men only,” he said in the statement. “It was a matter of personal standards and protection and there was no intent of discrimination.”
Kelley said the speaker announced that the trip was only for men while the raffle tickets were being collected.
“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,” he said.
Just so we’re clear here. The stipulations were given twice. So that silly girl should have gotten the picture the first time and not been so stupid and put her name in the bucket. Right? Because if she was allowed to go on an expedition with men, then surely she’s going to be some kind of trouble maker and accuse someone of sexual misconduct instead of just enjoying the fishing excursion. Uh, okay. Someone get the Reverend some pain killers because that’s a giant stretch.
Kelley said that he learned that she was offended and would like to talk to Smaniotto and her father about the miscommunication and offer an apology. Of course she was offended! She wasn’t allowed to take her prize because she is a woman. And why does her father have to be involved? Why can’t the pastor just talk to her? Seems to be perpetuating the fact that women take a backseat in this organization.
When asked if the church had reached out to her personally, Smaniotto told Scary Mommy, “No one has attempted to reach me personally. I mean clearly I’m easy to locate on Facebook and Instagram, it shouldn’t have been an issue if they truly wanted to get a hold of me. I have not received one phone call, voicemail or message.”
Kelley went on with a bunch of lip service about offering a trip for just women and that the church would never do anything to make a woman feel discriminated against. Smaniotto disagrees.
She also said that she is not interested in a pity prize.
“Hunting and fishing are sports that require a lot of respect. You have to respect the sport, the land you hunt or fish on, your weapon, and especially your harvest. Hunting and fishing are co-ed sports and women deserve the same opportunity that any man is eligible for. If we as women don’t continue to speak up for equality, we will never achieve our goal. ”
Hell yes, girl! We do have to speak up for equality. Women can do anything that men can do. Wanna bow fish, do it! Wanna cure cancer, have at it. Wanna be the Vice President, I think we know how that story ends.
But as far as Smaniotto is concerned, this won’t deter her. She said that Pennsylvania trout season opens April 3, 2021 and she will be there: “I will continue to live and breathe hunting and fishing until the day I die.”
When asked by Scary Mommy, Bethel Baptist Church said that they had no further comments.