The first female bishop of the Church of England may be ordained by the end of the year. The Mormon community is widely discussing the role of women in LDS leadership, missions, and perhaps the priesthood. Some religious traditions embrace the contributions of women in positions of authority within narrowly defined parameters. Others recognize a full equality in every arena of leadership. Everywhere the conversation about the role of women in leading religious communities involves the interpretation of sacred texts, the role of traditions, and the divine call of women.
Despite decades of positive change toward gender equality in American society, women remain under-represented in leadership positions in most major faith groups. What theological and social factors lie behind this resistance to change? How can more women gain access to leadership positions? What impact have women had in faith traditions with greater levels of equality? What might change if women had greater responsibility in religious organizations?
Jim Rigby, Presbyterian minister
I would say that a "liberal" denomination that invites women into leadership but insists on protecting sexism is setting women up for abuse.
Deborah W. Dykes, Progressive Christian, The Dykes Foundation
Why is over half of the population on the planet routinely "silenced" or excluded from leadership roles in religious communities because of their sex, their biological makeup?
Pia de Solenni, Catholic Theologian
If we're really interested in shaping and influencing culture, in having a significant impact on the world, then we need to look at the basis and foundation of our society: the families.
Molly Khan, Pagan Blogger, Pagan Families
Unlike many religions, our Pagan traditions largely have built-in gender equality in leadership, at least in theory.
Caryn Riswold, Professor, Progressive Christian Blogger, Feminismxianity
This video is cute and clever, but it also reflects a serious theological point about God's call: it's real, whether patriarchal institutions want it to be or not.
John Shore, Progressive Christian Blogger, Christianity with Humanity
It's insane that anyone today still thinks that being born male automatically makes you more qualified to know and speak for God than does being a person who actually can bring life into the world.
Melissa Inouye, Mormon Blogger, Peculiar People
I focus on positive and meaningful changes to women's roles within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that can be accomplished within the current paradigm of male priesthood.
Neylan McBaine, Mormon Blogger and Author
While some may scoff at contemporary diversity efforts as tokenism or just filling quotas, there is no turning back on our need to answer the fundamental questions, "Where am I? Where do I fit in? Who is speaking for me?"
David Howlett, Professor, Mormon Blogger, Peculiar People
The traditions and trends of LDS leadership will make the ordination of women to the priesthood highly unlikely.
Mike Goldsworthy, Evangelical Pastor, Parkcrest Christian Church
I'm grieved that not only are there incredibly gifted women who have no place to use their gifts in the church, but I'm grieved by what those churches are missing out on.
It is part of our work to go out into the world, challenge the stereotypes and assumptions, and bring the divine feminine -- and respect for the feminine -- back into balance with how we treat all things male.
Paganism doesn't have the issues other religions have regarding women in religious leadership. But here are some ways to support them regardless.
The progressive movement argues that there is a clear social injustice arising from the prohibition of woman-led congregational prayer. The prohibition of female imams is part of the larger problem of women's marginalization in the Muslim community.
Perhaps the greatest merit of the Women's Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE) conference is that it creates a space for Muslim women to find equality and justice within their religious texts, traditions, and beliefs.
At the heart of this conference is this question—does Islam, does religion, bar women from leadership roles? What ayahs of the Quran, hadiths, or Islamic examples support or just allow for Muslim women to seek leadership roles in various facets of life?