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Gender and Public Religion in America

Summary and Keywords

With rapid development, academically and socially, in the past sixty years, gender and public religion in the United States have become a separate field, even as it is integrated into others such as politics, biology, law, philosophy, and cultural studies. As ideas about gender have expanded, potential conflicts with established religions have sometimes occurred even as new theologies, ethical constructs, and even new strains of religion occur.

Keywords: theology, ethics, political science, cultural studies, sexuality, social policy, community issues, advocacy

The overlap of gender and public religion is demonstrated in surprising ways. At the Women’s March on Washington, January 21, 2017, another white male held up signs, admonishing the participants that “you women” need to repent.

Gender and Public Religion in AmericaClick to view larger

Figure 1. Sign at the Women’s March on Washington, January 21, 2017.

Photograph by author.

The list of sins, shown on the above sign, included several that are clearly related to sexuality: adulterers, abortionists, homosexuals, porn watchers. The clash of religion with gender in the American public has been heated over the past years. But here, the personal was indeed made political. Such public displays about gender and religion have become commonplace. In these displays, too often, “feminism” is a charge thrown at any person who brings up issues of women or gender equality. However, there is no single feminism nor are all women feminists. Those who support religious traditions that often have limited roles for women are labeled as right wing evangelicals. None of these are easily defined terms, but they are applied like a cudgel to those who do not share a given view.

Thinking through the sources for such gender-religion dynamics and recognizing their impact on the political cultures of the United States is the focus of this article. There are four parts for consideration: constitutive components of the arguments in the U.S. context, theological issues that inform or aggravate the arguments, social topics that arise, and public advocacy.

Constitutive Components

Australian Dr. Paul James, analyzing the amniotic fluid of a pregnant patient for possible birth defects, surprisingly found that the patient herself had “genetically distinct” sex markers although she had the apparent female genitals. He termed this “chimerism.”1 The term intersex is more broadly used to refer to, not just people born with dual genitalia, but also

A person . . . born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. For example, a person might be born appearing to be female on the outside, but having mostly male-typical anatomy on the inside. Or a person may be born with genitals that seem to be in-between the usual male and female types—for example, a girl may be born with a noticeably large clitoris, or lacking a vaginal opening, or a boy may be born with a notably small penis, or with a scrotum that is divided so that it has formed more like labia. Or a person may be born with mosaic genetics, so that some of her cells have XX chromosomes and some of them have XY.2

The issue of determining sex in today’s society is complicated by biology. But the general public still thinks in binary terms: female/male, boy/girl. Any lack of clarity too often is deemed deviant and in need of correction.

The science of sexuality has created tension for some American ministers since Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey began reporting on the topic in the 1940s. Today, the Kinsey Institute identifies its mission “To foster and promote a greater understanding of human sexuality and relationships through impactful research, outreach, education, and historical preservation.”3 But in the 1940s, to “Monsignor Maurice Sheehy, the head of Catholic University’s Department of Religious Education, [Kinsey] was a dissolute pseudo-intellectual bent on shredding the moral fabric of the nation by wrecking the family.”4

Gender role expectations infect American cultural mores: pink for little girls, blue for little boys; being a “sexy” woman; put on your “big boy” pants; chick flicks; boys don’t cry. Such ideas also impact economics, including what costs more or who gets paid more. There is a resultant confusion about political legislation and the policies that are developed: What is ethical or right? What is wrong?

The focus on the biology of women has been a research focus that became more intense when, “In 1969, a small group of women in Boston, frustrated by a lack of useful medical information, began to educate themselves and others about their bodies. The fruit of this endeavor, which took shape in an ongoing process of discovering and sharing knowledge collectively, was a pathbreaking book, Our Bodies, Ourselves.5 The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective Records are available in digitized form through the Schlesinger Library of Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. In an article on the book’s fortieth anniversary, it was noted that at publication, in 1971, Pastor Jerry Falwell condemned the book as “obscene trash.”6

As biological definitions have become more defined or changed, so have the roles assigned to gender. Women’s roles have significantly expanded. From appropriate clothing to working outside the home to childrearing to aging to sexual expression, the idea of the Victorian “lady” in charge of the household has disintegrated under the weight of economic, global, and social realities. Feminism alone is sometimes blamed for the demise of lady roles, but simplistic answers will not uncover the myriad ways society has shifted over the past hundred years.

Like the social roles of women, the expectation that men fit a predetermined gender role is shifting. Abrahamic religions cite the figure of Abraham as the basis for male dominance in many global societies. This male dominance is often termed patriarchy. Although it gets played out in different ways through branches of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the central role of men as breadwinners, protectors, and “heads” of households that revolve around them and their needs has often become established by tradition. The interdisciplinary study of men and masculinities has grown over the past decade. As is stated in the American Men’s Studies Association mission statement: “Men’s studies includes scholarly, clinical, and activist endeavors engaging men and masculinities as social-historical-cultural constructions reflexively embedded in the material and bodily realities of men’s and women’s lives.”7 This understanding of men’s studies is reflected in Stony Brook University’s Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities’ vision statement:

The Center is committed to fostering a world in which everyone, regardless of race, gender, or sexuality, reach their full potential as human beings. We support and promote research that furthers the development of boys and men in the service of healthy masculinities and greater gender equality. We seek to build bridges among a new generation of researchers, practitioners, and activists who work toward these ends. This unique collaboration will enhance the quality and impact of research, and enable a more informed policy and practice.8

Popular social understandings of gender have expanded as well. “Queer” expanded into “gay and lesbian”; throughout the 20th century, the designations have grown. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight/cis-gender, transvestite, transsexual, transgender, intersex, pangender and agender are among the ways that groups of people identify today. While these designations may create greater specificity, they also result in theoethical dilemmas for religions, many of which have traditions that only indicate binary gender structures, female and male. While this short article focuses primarily on issues of women and men in American understandings, the issues around LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer, intersex, androgyne) must be recognized as having their own impetus for driving discussions of public religion and gender.

Theological Issues in the Context of the United States

The issues around gender roles become much sharper when religious thought becomes a component of discussions. Any religion can be understood as a social institution. As such, it is within its institutional responsibilities and rights to define gender roles. Many of the definitions are based are theological principles of the roles of humans in relationship to the Divine Being. These rules may change but change is slow. Such rules may come to be seen as traditions with their origins forgotten. Part of membership is living within the institution’s rules and upholding traditions. Women’s communal roles may be determined by a given church’s theologies, even if some members work to change the status quo. Within the theological tradition, even the gender of God may be determined. Such determinations are, again, the rights and responsibilities of a particular church community. Their theologies of human and Divine roles, with their rules and traditions about gender, develop over centuries as human societies develop.

Within the United States further complications arise. The Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This non-establishment clause protects religious expression even as it excludes the identification of a national religion. This clause means that the government of the United States cannot select a single religion as a state religion and that a citizen has a freedom to select and practice the religion of choice or none at all. The clause does not, however, prevent religions from working to influence the government. So there are several religious groups that lobby legislators. The result of their lobbying cannot result in establishment of a state religion—but the groups can work to influence the shapes of laws to fit their religious beliefs.

Despite the Constitutional non-establishment clause, there has been a preponderance of focus on, Protestant Christianity particularly, in public discussions of gender. With few geographical exceptions, the cultural weight of Christianity often is felt when organizations do not recognize holy days of any other religious group among their employees or students.

The arguments about topics of gender and religions are discussed and debated across American communities. The 21st century has added more complexity to such changes: both theological issues and social topics, like the protestor’s sign above, are challenged by gender.

As stated above, each religion has the power to define gender roles within that given religion. Yet, too often, women are marginalized within a given religion. As one opinion writer stated: “Religions derive their power and popularity in part from the ethical compass they offer. So why do so many faiths help perpetuate something that most of us regard as profoundly unethical: the oppression of women?. . . Today, when religious institutions exclude women from their hierarchies and rituals, the inevitable implication is that females are inferior.”9

This statement seems unfair and yet, each religion has the right and authority to define gender roles for on its own theological groundings. However, most sacred texts were written centuries ago when scientific knowledge of the human body had not advanced as much as it has now. The commitment to traditions that limits gender roles does not always ring true in the contemporary age. The very fact of different biological realities for women becomes an issue for the musings of founding theologians of all religions. Take for example, the issue of menstruation.

There are, or have been, faith-based limitations on menstruating women in nearly every major religion from, Shintoism to Judaism to Christianity to Zoroastrianism. The internet abounds with anxious questions posed by women from a wide array of religious traditions seeking specific answers on whether or not they can attend funerals, bake bread, pickle vegetables, recite scripture, or touch their partners while menstruating.10

There are a variety of ways that women’s roles in religions based on written traditions have been researched. For instance, a compilation of documents from around the world about the views of women in religions can be found on the Internet Sacred Text Archive website. The archivists of the materials introduce their collection: “All of the major world religions deprecate women to some degree. This page archives texts which relate specifically to women and religion from a female perspective.”

Scholarship that researches women’s roles has also involved gathering data on women’s religious organizations. One such listing is through the Pluralism Project of Harvard University. As stated on their web page: “The links below include organizations related to women and religion, both in the United States and internationally. Many of these organizations have participated in our women’s networks initiative over the years; others are grassroots organizations that have been part of our research and relationship building.”11 The Pluralism Project began in 1991 under the direction of Dr. Diana Eck to map world religions, first, in Boston, Massachusetts, and then across the United States. The Project considers religious plurality in a variety of ways and it is not surprising that it would also consider a women’s focused listing.

There are individual authors who have long studied the roles, historical and contemporary, of women in religions. For instance, Dr. Rosemary Radford Ruether has a long career of such research including: Religion and Sexism: Images of Woman in the Jewish and Christian Traditions or another study, Goddesses and the Divine Feminine.12

But there are pragmatic reasons for research, as an edited volume by Mary E. Hunt demonstrates. Hunt co-founded the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual; her work includes supporting women’s involvement in the fields of religion, whether ministerial or academic. The edited volume is encyclopedic in form, defining words and phrases: administration, competition, promotion, and sexism. Hunt describes the book in this way: “Consider this guide a compilation of the experience of many generous women, shared so that our field may become increasingly more just for women and thus for everyone, and more collegial for the doing so. Above all, enjoy your work in religious studies.”13

Men are also slotted into roles by multiple theological traditions that may or may not be biologically or personally true for an individual man. As an example, the comparison that might appear in Christian circles references Abraham as patriarch and, therefore, establishes that men are leaders of their households. Would it mean that a man was a religious problem if he did not want such a role? While masculinities studies are mentioned earlier, it has not filtered into theological studies as expansively as have works about women. For instance, Michael Kimmel runs the Center for Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook (cited previously) and his book, Manhood in America: A Cultural History is among many that pave the way for new understandings of being men.14 Yet most religious, particularly evangelical Christian books, still present a view of men that privileges their role as patriarchs and, literally, heads of households.15

As an extension of defined roles, family is an important location where gender and public religion intersect. In this vein, some Christian sects adhere to scripturally or textually based definitions of family roles. As a Christian author stated: “The Bible declares that marriage is between a male and female (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4–5); sanctions sexual relationships and reproduction only in the confines of marriage (Hebrews 13:4) and stresses the obligations that parents and children as well as husbands and wives have to each other (Ephesians 6:1–4, Ephesians 5:22–33).”16

In the United States, monogamy is the practice by law. Marriage, child custody, and the harm that one family member does to another may come under legislative review. Yet contemporary changes in structures and meanings of family serve as pastoral challenges. Multiple marriages, blended families, and child marriage complicate the meaning of marriage in the United States.17 At the same time, marriage and divorce rates have fallen somewhat over the past decade.18 Adoption, new forms of fertilization or surrogacy, extended families, and foster care systems: these are all among the challenges facing church members. Two Christian authors challenge contemporary pastoral practice to be more fully engaged with changing family structures and support traditionally defined roles. “For the past 30 years these churches have been timid and inarticulate about the growing family crisis. They have let the family issue fall into the hands of reactionary political and religious forces to the right or radical cultural forces to the left . . . these goals should not obscure the church’s central support for the intact mother-father team dedicated to the task of raising children to take their place in the kingdom of God.”19 This construction of nuclear family is Western European in origin. Placing this family image into a religious framework brings it into a gender and public religion conversation.

The image of the nuclear American family was embellished by older television images, such as the 1950s shows Leave it to Beaver, Ozzie and Harriet, or The Andy Griffith Show. Current television shows are not so kind to the understanding of family, such as The Simpsons or Modern Family, which are a mere forty years later than Beaver. Yet a rosy and nostalgic view that hearkens to a simpler time colors the idea of family, what it should be, and where it falls short. Such nostalgia for a time when “women were women and men were men” is incorporated into the idealized nuclear family. Researcher Stephanie Coontz addresses this in her book, The Way We Never Were: “One thing has not changed since my book first appeared in 1992—the tendency for many Americans to view present-day family and gender relations through the foggy lens of nostalgia for a mostly mythical past.”20

The aim of preserving nostalgic roles of marriage and all family members becomes a religious educational aim for some evangelical Christian churches. The sin of sex outside marriage is preached. The sanctity of sexual purity is promoted. Some churches try to hold events and rituals that involve teen members, especially girls, to commit to purity and this is signaled through a purity ball, where girls, and sometimes boys, publicly pledges to avoid premarital sex.

But at this time in the 21st century, the Internet has made ignorance of sex acts nearly impossible. Young people can quickly and quietly find web sites to answer curious questions that parents or churches may not. Sex education through public schools becomes a target for some churches to lobby against at their local school boards. Advocating abstinence-only education, these churches will view sex education in a religious frame as within the proper domain of families. The fear of some parents is that outside influences will turn some young people from the path of a given religion or set of values of the family itself. Another fear is the erosion of the social importance and role of the birth families, which is heightened when certain religious views are taken into consideration. These theological issues are compounded with other gender-related issues in contemporary America.

Social Topics

Multiple issues churn around gender and public religion. These issues are covered by news reports, compounded with legislative agendas, and the source of much anguish among some religious communities. The issues around pregnancy and around LGBTIQA discussed in this section are not exhaustive but indicative of trends.

Several issues revolve around pregnancy: contraception, fertility treatment, and abortion. All three bring the question of when life begins to the forefront, which therefore, becomes a dilemma for some religions. Some churches’ theologies contend that human life begins at the moment of conception; therefore some forms of contraception, such as birth control pills and the morning-after pill, are considered abortive of human life. That churches tell their communities not to use one or another kind of birth control is their right as social institutions. However, several church communities argue that the restrictions against contraception should be applied across the country, and one company took matters into their own hands.

Hobby Lobby is a private company. Its owners are religious and do not support any form of contraception. Therefore, this company withdrew the option for contraception coverage from their company’s employee health care plan, arguing that they did so under the First Amendment of the Constitution that establishes religious freedom. The case ended up before the Supreme Court, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, and the decision was for the stores. As cited in the opinion of the Court: “A Government action that imposes a substantial burden on religious exercise must serve a compelling government interest, and we assume that the Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations satisfy this requirement. But in order for the mandate to be sustained, it must also constitute the least restrictive means of serving that interest, and the HHS mandate plainly fails that test.”21

Another issue that has surfaced in the 20th century is that of fertility treatment. Medical researchers have developed fertility treatments for infertile people who wish to have children. These same methods can be used for people who decide to wait on behalf of a career. The same methods can assist a same-sex couple or single person to have a child. Methods include in vitro fertilization; storage of eggs or sperm, surrogacy, and storage of fertilized eggs. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which promotes large families for married couples, has perhaps the most stringent rejection of these methods as immoral.

Techniques that entail in dissociation of husband and wife by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus) are gravely immoral. These techniques (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe the child’s right to be born of a mother and father known to him and bound to each other by marriage . . . Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization) are perhaps less reprehensible, yet remain morally unacceptable.22

As science expands its capabilities regarding gender, including pregnancy and childbirth, churches will continue to need to define meanings for their own traditions.

Perhaps no single gender and religion related issue has been so divisive as that of abortion. In the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, the Supreme Court declared that state laws against abortion are unconstitutional, promoting the issue of due process of law for each citizen, as guaranteed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. Here, law and the Constitution directly conflicted with the sentiments and theologies of some religions that define the beginning of life as the moment of conception. Some religious groups make exceptions for abortion in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the life of the mother; others do not. The issue of abortion has been argued across the nation, state to state and in various forms. The non-establishment clause of the Constitution rejects the mandate of a single religion and arguments must be made from science and from legal precedent. Such precedent is the route through which Hobby Lobby could successfully argue its case before the Supreme Court. But abortion has not been able to define such a legal or scientific precedent. As a result, many state legislatures have made laws that restrict abortion to the narrowest possible slice of the population, arguing that the health of the mother is the consideration. One example is that, according to some states, abortion should be limited to those facilities and medical practitioners that have access to a hospital; or that the pregnancy can only be terminated with approval of the male partner or, in the case of underage females, with the approval of the parents. In one recent action, the state of Indiana passed legislation that a fetus, aborted or miscarried, must be transferred to a funeral home and given a burial or cremation.23 It is hoped by abortion foes that the next person to become a Supreme Court justice will side with other justices and overturn Roe v. Wade.24

Issues of LGBTQIA citizens in the United States frustrate some religious groups. These groups support the binary female-male structure even as same-sex loving people structure their lives and their families in new ways. Cases arising from these concerns are beginning to make their way through the courts. For instance, the state of North Carolina has restricted the use of public bathroom facilities to those persons of the biological sex as shown on birth certificates.25 This law was the direct result of educational changes that allowed transgender persons in the United States to use the bathrooms that match the sex with which they identify. Despite the law, the debate about transgender rights continues, with churches on both sides of the argument.

Being gay, lesbian, or bisexual has created problems for several American Christian religions. Being physically attracted to the same sex is considered an aberration of humanity and an evil unto itself. While same-sex loving people are excluded from membership at some churches, there were attempts to “pray away the gay” through organizations dedicated to such effort. Their methods were often brutal. But in 2013, one of the largest organizations, Exodus International, ended its program. The president of the organization stated: “Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism . . . For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical.”26 This ending does not terminate the discomfort some feel with different than male/female gender identifications and is an ongoing dimension of gender and public religions discussions. The issues and activism around LGBTIQA people will continue.

Public Advocacy

There are organizations that include advocacy for gender in public religion within the scope of their broader missions. Here are a few examples.

The Elders are a group of international leaders who were brought together by Nelson Mandela (1918–2013) to pool their collective wisdom and leadership experience to help solve world problems. For International Women’s Day 2017, statements from past years by several of the Elders were compiled to promote women’s equality, including engaging men. An example was their reprint of a February 2011 speech by Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland (1990–1997) and one of the Elders. Her speech emphasized misusing religious practice to create social injustice for women and girls. “We do not do this as critics of religion and tradition. It is important to point out that our Chair, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, is a great man of faith. We represent a diversity of views—some secular but also Christian, Muslim and Hindu. We see religion and tradition as largely positive forces for social cohesion and justice.”27 Her emphasis is on practices that create unjust conditions for women, but also on the importance of religions.

The Human Rights Campaign is an organization that works for LGBTQIA civil rights in the United States. They count marriage equality as one of their victories: The Human Rights Campaign was at the forefront of the fight for marriage equality when, on June 26, 2015, in a historic 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court of the United States found bans on marriage equality to be unconstitutional—and that the fundamental right to marriage is a fundamental right for us all.”28 While this decision was groundbreaking, it does not resolve the religious questions that are mentioned in the earlier sections on family or gender roles. These religious discussions will take some time to resolve in American public life.

President Jimmy Carter clearly advocates for women’s equality through his Christian faith perspective. The Carter Center in Georgia “brought together religious leaders, scholars, and activists who are working to align religious life with the advancement of girls’ and women’s full equality. We called this a Human Rights Defenders Forum.”29 President Carter continued these efforts through the Carter Center with a “Mobilizing Action for Women and Girls Initiative.” The Human Rights Defenders Forum is now an annual event. Annual global meetings occur. There are also roundtable discussions online.30

As a concluding example, the Council on Foreign Relations has a broad, international scope. Its scope is defined by its Mission Statement: The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries.31 Within this broad framed work, the Council holds an annual conference on religion and public policy as well as incorporating some religious discussions in regular conference calls. One of those discussions was with Katherine Marshall, a senior fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Her topic was “Women, Religion, and Peace.”32

Challenges Ahead

To discuss gender and public religion in the United States encompasses multiple levels. Biological definitions, gender roles, and societal understandings have expanded. Theological issues arise with contemporary gender roles and family structures and the core issues of sexuality, marriage, and pregnancy. The growth of scholarship and organizational advocacy about gender creates new tensions for churches and American communities. Resulting attempts at legislation, often focused on Protestant Christian understandings of gender roles, creates some clarity but some stress as well.

Gender and public religion bring complex, thorny issues to bear on American communities and imaginations. The photo that opened this article is indicative of the chasm opened when the issues are surfaced. These issues, most likely, will continue to present social and theological challenges across communities even as new political, religious, scientific, and social dynamics are discovered.

Review of the Literature

While the above article considers religion and public religion from a perspective that provided contexts, including biology, family, and law, this portion looks at historic and contemporary strands of research in order to review the literature. With social changes of the 1960s and 1970s in the United States, scholarship also shifted. Women began to identify differently, as feminists and that led to new dimensions in theological, religious, and ethical research.

Goddess religion began to be explored in the 1970s as women sought to relocate themselves out of patriarchal religions. One example is Starhawk, who authored The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess.33 Today, much of this study can be found in explorations of the wider field of pagan religion.

Feminist theologies began to develop in newer, more intense ways, during the 1970s, among scholars who taught at universities and seminaries. But these theologies were not merely exercises in theory building but were connected to an activism, often seeking to influence the status of women in their respective churches.

  • Mary Daly, considered a radical feminist theologian, wrote books that shaped new jargon to discuss gender and religion. Her Beyond God the Father is an example of her work.34

  • Rosemary Radford Ruether was one of the earliest writers whose many books include Religion and Sexism, Images of Women in the Jewish and Christian Traditions.35

Women of color began to explore religion and gender from their standpoints around this same time.

  • Katie Geneva Cannon worked with the development of womanist ethics and theology addressing African American women’s conversations. One of her earliest works was Black Womanist Ethics.36

  • Kwok Pui-Lan, an Asian feminist theologian, brought new perspectives including her early work, Chinese Women and Christianity, 1860–1927.37

  • From Latina women’s views, Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz developed the idea of mujerista theology as in her work En La Lucha/In the Struggle, A Hispanic Women’s Liberation Theology.38

While most of these early writers worked from a Jewish or Christian theological stance, the field of several feminist theologies has grown into exponentially beyond the religious borders of the early writers. Two examples are the following:

  • Melanie L. Harris, Ecowomanism: African American Women and Earth Honoring Faiths.39

  • Theresa Delgadillo, Spiritual Mestizaje: Religion, Gender, Race, and Nation in Contemporary Chicana Narrative.40

LGBTQIA scholars are writing their public religion concepts in increasing numbers, drawing on multiple disciplines:

  • William Stacy Johnson, A Time to Embrace: Same-Gender Relationships in Religion, Law, and Politics.41

  • David A. J. Richards, Why Love Leads to Justice: Love Across the Boundaries.42

  • Deborah Jian Lee, Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women, and Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism.43

Men and masculinity studies also provide new research on gender and public religion:

  • Stewart M. Hoover, Does God Make the Man?: Media, Religion, and the Cycle of Masculinity.44

  • Sarah Imhoff, Masculinity and the Making of American Judaism.45

The list of Further Reading expands this growing study of gender and public religion.

Further Reading

Bailey, Beth L. Sex in the Heartland. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009.Find this resource:

    Falah, Ghazi-Walid. Geographies of Muslim Women: Gender, Religion, and Space. New York: Guilford, 2014.Find this resource:

      Fausto-Sterling, Anne. Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality. New York: Basic Books, 2008.Find this resource:

        Frank, Nathaniel. Awakening: How Gays and Lesbians Brought Marriage Equality to America. Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 2017.Find this resource:

          Fulkerson, Mary McClintock, and Sheila Briggs, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Theology. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2012.Find this resource:

            Joy, Morny, ed. Women, Religion, and the Gift, An Abundance of Riches. Geneva, Switzerland: Springer, 2017.Find this resource:

              Nynas, Peter. Religion, Gender, and Sexuality in Everyday Life. Reprint. New York: Routledge, 2016.Find this resource:

                Reilly, Niamh, and Stacey Scriver, eds., Religion, Gender, and the Public Sphere. New York: Routledge, 2014.Find this resource:

                  Ruether, Rosemary Radford, and Rosemary Skinner Keller, eds. In Our Own Voices: Four Centuries of American Women’s Religious Writing. San Francisco: HarperOne, 1996.Find this resource:

                    Young, Pamela Dickey, Heather Shipley, and Tracy J. Trothen, eds. Religion and Sexuality: Diversity and the Limits of Tolerance. British Columbia, Canada: UBC Press, 2015.Find this resource:


                      (1.) Paul James, Katherine Rose, David Francis, and Fiona Norris, “High-Level 46XX/46XY Chimerism Without Clinical Effect in a Healthy Multiparous Female,” American Journal of Medical Genetics 155.10 (September 9, 2011).

                      (2.) “What is Intersex?,” FAQ, Intersex Society of North America.

                      (3.) Kinsey Institute, Indiana University.

                      (4.) R. Marie Griffith, “The Religious Encounters of Alfred C. Kinsey,” The Journal of American History, Organization of American Historians 95.2 (September 2008): 349.

                      (5.) Boston Women’s Health Book Collective Records, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.

                      (6.) Jacque Wilson, “From Filthy Trash to Iconic Resource: Our Bodies, Ourselves at 40,” CNN, October 5, 2011.

                      (7.) “About: Mission and Values,” American Men’s Studies Association.

                      (8.) “About: Mission,” Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities, Stony Brook University.

                      (9.) Nicholas Kristof, “Religion and Women,” op-ed, The New York Times, January 9, 2010.

                      (10.) Beenish Ahmed, “Bloody Hell: Does Religion Punish Women for Menstruating,” Vice, June 20, 2015.

                      (11.) “Key Theme: Women and Religion,” The Pluralism Project, Harvard University.

                      (12.) Rosemary Radford Ruether, Religion and Sexism: Images of Woman in the Jewish and Christian Traditions (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1974); Goddesses and the Divine Feminine (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005).

                      (13.) Mary E. Hunt, ed., A Guide for Women in Religion: Making Your Way from A to Z (New York: Palgrave, 2004), xvi.

                      (14.) Michael Kimmel, Manhood in America: A Cultural History (New York: Free Press, 1996).

                      (15.) See, for example, Tony Evans, Kingdom Man: Every Man’s Destiny, Every Woman’s Dream (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2012).

                      (16.) “Responding to Changing Family Values,” Ethos Institute.

                      (17.) As noted by the Pew Research Center, child marriage is less frequent across the United States but more common in the South. “Child Marriage Is More Common in Southern United States,” Pew Research Center, October 31, 2016.

                      (18.) See “National Marriage and Divorce Rate Trends,” National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

                      (19.) Don and Carol Browning, “The Church and the Family Crisis,” Religion Online.

                      (20.) Stephanie Coontz, The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap, Introduction to the 2016 edition (New York: Basic Books 2016), xiv.

                      (21.) Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., Supreme Court of the United States, October term 2013, 6.

                      (22.) Catechism of the Catholic Church, Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, 2000, 2376–2377, 571.

                      (23.) Emma Green, “State Mandated Mourning for Aborted Fetuses,” The Atlantic, May, 14, 2016.

                      (24.) For example, see the news statement by the National Right to Life organization, Dave Andrusko, “A Precursor to the Fight over Judge Gorsuch’s Nomination,” News Today, National Right to Life, February 8, 2017.

                      (25.) General Assembly of North Carolina, Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, 2016 Second Extra Session, House Bill 2. Available on the North Carolina General Assembly website.

                      (26.) Melissa Steffan, “Alan Chambers Apologizes to Gay Community, Exodus International to Shut Down,” Christianity Today online, June 21, 2013.

                      (27.) Mary Robinson, “Women Against Fundamentalism and for Equality,” The Elders, February 26, 2011.

                      (28.) “HRC Story: Our Victories,” Human Rights Campaign.

                      (29.) Jimmy Carter, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2014), 6.

                      (31.) “About: Mission,” Council on Foreign Relations.

                      (32.) 2015 Council on Foreign Relations, Women, Religion, and Peace. Speaker: Katherine Marshall, Presider, Irina A Faskianos. Used with permission. This conference call and transcript are available on the Council on Foreign Relations website.

                      (33.) Starhawk, The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess (New York: Harper Collins, 1979).

                      (34.) Mary Daly, Her Beyond God the Father (Boston: Beacon Press, 1973)

                      (35.) Rosemary Radford Ruether, Religion and Sexism, Images of Women in the Jewish and Christian Traditions (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1974).

                      (36.) Katie Geneva Cannon, Black Womanist Ethics (Eugene, OR: WIPF and Stock, 2006, reprint, 1988).

                      (37.) Kwok Pui-Lan, Chinese Women and Christianity, 1860–1927 (Scholars Press, 1989).

                      (38.) Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz, En La Lucha/In the Struggle, A Hispanic Women’s Liberation Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993).

                      (39.) Melanie L. Harris, Ecowomanism: African American Women and Earth Honoring Faiths (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2017).

                      (40.) Theresa Delgadillo, Spiritual Mestizaje: Religion, Gender, Race, and Nation in Contemporary Chicana Narrative (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011).

                      (41.) William Stacy Johnson, A Time to Embrace: Same-Gender Relationships in Religion, Law, and Politics (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2006).

                      (42.) David A. J. Richards, Why Love Leads to Justice: Love Across the Boundaries (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2016).

                      (43.) Deborah Jian Lee, Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women, and Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism (Boston: Beacon Press, 2015).

                      (44.) Stewart M. Hoover, Does God Make the Man?: Media, Religion, and the Cycle of Masculinity (New York: New York University Press, 2015).

                      (45.) Sarah Imhoff, Masculinity and the Making of American Judaism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2017).