What Happened to the Women? They're Missing in Tomes, Pews

Article excerpt


The other day I received a new book, "Religion and the American Future," published by the American Enterprise Institute, that had a curious omission.

Of the 22 religion scholars whose essays appear in the book, not one of them was female.

I looked again. Surely there are many women out there who could have written for their "religion and art" chapter, such as Sister Wendy Beckett, the South African-born British nun whose commentaries have opened up the world of art for millions of readers and PBS TV viewers.

Or their religion and science chapter: Surely they could have located Nancy Pearcey, author of "The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy," who only lives 30 miles south of the District.

Or for the European chapter, did anyone know of Diane Moczar, an expert in European church history who teaches at Northern Virginia Community College, which is even closer?

After an e-mail to the book's publicist got me no response, I began thinking about how many times women are simply left out of the world of religion. In a recent issue of "Books and Culture," an evangelical academic magazine, I spotted a seminar on preaching sponsored by Lipscomb University's school of theology.

Listed was the erudite Walter Brueggemann, retired professor at Columbia Theological Seminary and the Rev. Brian McLaren, a local author and a national leader in the emergent church movement. Five other theologians - all male - were listed in the credits.

Are we supposed to infer that women don't know anything about the topic?

When I was doing research for my newest book, "Quitting Church" (to be released Sept. 1), I wrote a whole chapter on why women no longer want to attend. One reason: They are non-persons in much of religion's public life.

When I searched through a late 2006 issue of Christianity Today, I saw an ad for "Faith Forward," a conference on the changing mission of the church sponsored by mega-church pastor Robert Schuller. …