The latest issue of Newsweek has a story on the ordination of females. Writers Holly Rossi and Lilit Marcus, who I believe are bloggers at the excellent Beliefnet, wrote the story for the mainstream publication. They ask what the election of Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as the head of the Episcopal Church means for women seeking a similar path. If they were blogging, the bias of the piece would be just fine. But I’m not sure if they quite have the impartiality necessary for a mainstream news magazine. Let’s see what we think about their tone:
Women make up 61 percent of all Americans who attend religious congregations, but they still struggle for their place in some denominations. A national study led by researchers at Hartford Seminary found that only 12 percent of the clergy in the 15 largest Protestant denominations are women. And some 112 million Americans belong to denominations that don’t ordain women at all, including Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Southern Baptists, Mormons, Muslims and Orthodox Jews.
Emphasis mine. Now maybe it’s because I’m Lutheran and we follow the historic Christian practice of ordaining only select men after rigorous education and training, but, um, I don’t think there’s any question how the writers want us to feel. We have the words that direct the reader — but, only, at all!
The story also has a chart on various religious groups’ policies on the ordination of women. But the chart, at least in my synod’s case, is wrong. It says we permit females to preach in the church. Actually, we don’t. We believe that preaching is a function of the Office of Holy Ministry, which is not open to females. Sure, our bureaucratic leader may have expressed a desire to the contrary, but we haven’t gone down that road yet.
Anyway, back to the bias in this Newsweek piece:
But there are indications that times are changing. . . .
But according to Adair Lummis, coauthor of the recent Hartford Seminary study, it might be easier in 20 years for women to earn top positions like Jefferts Schori’s than to increase their presence as senior clergy in many local congregations, where congregants’ attitudes might still favor male pastors. The stained-glass ceiling “has certainly been punctured,” said Lummis. But it’s yet to completely shatter.
I mean, the writers didn’t even really try to be fair to the ancient, orthodox view. They didn’t even lightly explore the biblical or traditional basis for why the vast majority of Christians ordain men. Heck, they didn’t even explore the attitudinal sexism they credit to congregations who desire male priests and pastors. Sigh. The reason why some churches ordain women and others don’t is because there’s a doctrinal division. Maybe mainstream media should look into that.
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