Can Candace Cameron Bure Be the Evangelical Anne-Marie Slaughter?

What women really think about news, politics, and culture.
Jan. 22 2014 11:51 PM

Candace Cameron Bure Wants to Balance Your Full House

Can the actress who played D.J. Tanner be the evangelical Anne-Marie Slaughter?

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Considering that Bure is doing book promotion, her recent interviews have to be considered a success: She’s getting plenty of publicity. Outlets including CNN, Us Weekly, and the Daily Mail covered her comments, and The View made her a “hot topic” of the day. An essay posted on xojane referred to her as a biblical literalist—it’s doubtful Bure would identify this way—and sniffed that “the infallible word of God tells her to let a burly, hockey-playing Russian make all of the decisions.” (I reached out to Bure for an interview, but her promotional schedule prevented her from talking to me in a timely fashion.)

Bure has done little to tamp down the fray, posting a photo of herself flexing to Facebook, captioned, “Nothing weak about this- people talk about what they don’t understand.” As the controversy spread, her Facebook page filled up with sympathetic comments. “I almost lost my marriage by being the ‘feminist’ and trying to always be in control,” one woman wrote.

There have been previous hints that Bure is eager to throw herself into the culture wars. After Chick-fil-A’s CEO spoke against gay marriage in 2012, the actress tweeted a photo of herself and her son eating the fast food on Mike Huckabee’s “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” with the caption, “We love chikin!” For a double dose of Christian right signifiers, her son sported a Liberty University T-shirt in the photo. Last spring, she criticized Kanye West for titling his album “Yeezus,” tossing in a Jay-Z burn along the way: “That is way too close, and so is ‘Hova’ for ‘Jehovah,’” Bure told a radio host. “It totally bugs me. I have issues with that. ... There’s a million other names out there, too, and you could have chosen one that is not one letter off from Jesus.” And in 2008, she publicly recommended a controversial Christian parenting book called On Being Babywise, which the American Academy of Pediatrics previously warned was associated with infant dehydration and “failure to thrive.”

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But none of these comments have gotten her the attention that her thoughts on marriage have, and she seems keenly aware that there is room in her community for an evangelical Anne-Marie Slaughter. In Balancing It All, she writes about trying to get back into acting soon after her first child was born: “I had read the stories in the magazines about women who were doing it all and seemingly with a perfect balance. Women were supposed to be empowered and have it all.” You can see where this is going. Something had to give, especially because her husband’s hockey career had him traveling so frequently, and so she decided to stop working while her children were young: “I’m a woman, and it’s in my God-given nature to be the nurturer and caretaker at home.” Her hiatus wound up lasting 10 years.

But Bure also acknowledges in Balancing It All that the transition to becoming a stay-at-home mother was not easy for her and that she is thrilled to be easing back into her acting career now that her children are older. “God gave me the drive to work,” she writes. “Of course I love my children and want to take care of them. That simply has nothing to do with also loving to work.” She points out that the “Proverbs 31 woman”—an archetype of perfect womanhood described in the Old Testament, in a passage beloved by evangelicals—both works and cares for her family. And she encourages readers not to feel guilty about hiring help for things like housework and child care if they can afford it: “We need to recognize that other women are just as capable of deciding what is best for their families as we are for ours.”

Bure is not an anomaly within her community: The evangelical research firm the Barna Group found in 2012 that while American Christian women overwhelmingly say that “mother” is their most important role in life, 72 percent also get satisfaction from their careers. For Bure’s audience, it is a relief to hear her, well, balanced approach articulated in public. And “submissive” wives who feel assaulted by a broadly egalitarian culture are happy to have her on their side. As one fan put it on Facebook, “My husband came home and told me about your interview yesterday. He was explaining how they were giving you a hard time for talking about being a submissive wife. … He said you did a great job explaining it in the scope of scripture. On behalf of women who strive for a Godly marriage everywhere, thank you.”

Ruth Graham is a writer in New Hampshire.

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