Men on ‘Top’: ‘Where are all the Christian women bloggers?’

As Church Relevance faces another round of criticism for it’s latest male-dominated list of the “Top 200 Church Blogs,” Kent Shaffer looks to dig his way out of the hole with a post titled “An Open Letter to Christian Women Blogs.”

It’s not a terribly constructive response, although it does helpfully provide a neat illustration of why the critics are right.

This “Open Letter” praises “how far women’s rights have come,” and laments that “the inequality gap is still and may always be a great chasm.” And if Church Relevance’s list reflects that great chasm, that’s hardly their fault, right?

I mean, look, Church Relevance is focused on leaders — top-level, influential, transformational, inspirational, highly effective leaders. What could people like that possibly do to change the status quo?

Here’s a bit more from Shaffer’s “Open Letter” and from his earlier response to the same criticism: “Where Are the Top Christian Women Bloggers?

Almost  every  time  I  update  the  Top  Church  Blogs  listone  question  arisesWhere  are  all  the  Christian  women  bloggers?

We  are  not  trying  to  exclude  womenand  since  starting  the  listhave  spent  over  100  hours  trying  to  find  blogs  written  by  womennon-whitesand  non-Americans  that  fit  the  topical  scope  and  have  high  enough  traffic  to  make  the  rankings.

Historicallymen  have  occupied  the  overwhelming  majority  of  church  leadership  positionsAs  most  of  you  knowthis  disparity  is  deeply  rooted  in  denominational  and  theological  beliefsAt  the  same  timethere  have  always  been  more  male  bloggers  than  female  bloggers.

…  Within  the  church  blogosphereI  expect  that  for  every  female  blogger  excluded  from  the  Top  Church  Blogs  listthere  could  very  likely  be  3+  male  bloggers  excluded.

There  have  always  been  more  male  bloggers  than  female  bloggersAnd  there  have  always  been  more  male  church  leaders  than  female  church  leaders.

It’s a great chasm and there’s nothing to be done about it — at least nothing that influential, highly effective, Top Ministry Leaders can do.

(OK, too much cutting-and-pasting of links. Hands … cramping ….)

[UPDATE: A more convenient list of all the blogs linked above is available here.]

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  • Tricksterson

    Here’s a question, is there also a disparity in numbers between conservative and liberal bloggers on the list?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Here’s a question, is there also a disparity in numbers between conservative and liberal bloggers on the list?

    I’m interested in that question, too.

    Generally speaking, conservatism within the church is skewed towards older age groups, and internet usage (especially blogging) skewed towards younger age groups. So all else being equal I’d expect the churchy blogosphere to be less conservative than the pews. But all else is not equal–for example, I also expect churchy bloggers to be more of an activist than Jo/Joe Parishioner, and also more affluent, on average–and I have no idea how those things would balance out.

  • Victor

    (((Men on ‘Top’: ‘Where are all the Christian women bloggers?)))

    Fred, you should know as well as “I” and most believing Christians know that “IT” all originated from this so called “GOD” (Good Old Dad) who created Men in His Own Image so why complicate the issue? If our so called Creator is a male showvanistic, do we need to look any further? You let U>S (usual sinners) lead the way Fred and we gods will create Adam and Steve and put an end to all these problems and we promise to keep all these so called angels off your back if ya know what I mean? :)

    That’s not funny sinner vic! STOP “IT’ RIGHT NOW! YOU HEAR! :(


  • The_L1985

    So, what are you on, and where can I get some? :)

  • Joshua

    Victor’s been posting for a long time, at least as long as I’ve been here, and he’s always been friendly, never rude or abusive to anyone.

    I find your comment to be kinda rude.

  • Dan Audy

    Victor behaves in a profoundly unhinged and antisocial manner.  I don’t think that gently mocking him is any more out of line than doing so to THAT GUY who shows up late to a party drunk and on drugs and starts yelling random crap while people are sitting around trying to talk.  While it may be slightly rude, it is hardly undeserved.  Being a long term annoyance to the community with his incoherent rantings that rarely touch, let alone contribute, to the discussion isn’t something I find valuable.  Even anursa occasionally contributes something worthwhile to the community while Victor’s posts are worth less than URL-shortening service spam we get.

  • Carstonio

    When Sarah Palin was chosen as McCain’s running mate, I wondered why the party had passed over many of its better known governors and senators. On a hunch, I checked their positions on an divisive social issue, one that’s mostly a proxy for a larger debate about societal roles for women, and found that they all disagreed with Palin on that issue.

    Similarly, the euphemism “fit the topical scope” probably refers to not just gender-based profiling but also politics-based profiling. Without checking the tons of blogs that Fred found, I’m willing to bet that female Christian bloggers tend on average to be more progressive than the male ones. Kind of like the nuns’ group that was chastised by the bishops for not being sufficiently condemnatory of things like homosexuality.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    On a hunch, I checked their positions on an divisive social issue, one
    that’s mostly a proxy for a larger debate about societal roles for
    women, and found that they all disagreed with Palin on that issue.

    Could you perhaps be a little bit clearer? I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about.

  • Dave

    FWIW, I understood Carstonio to mean that the female Republican governors and senators whose positions he checked were not as pro-life as Palin.

  • Carstonio

     Ding! 10 points to Dave.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    And you couldn’t have just spelled that out in your original post?

  • Carstonio

     Sorry, I was deliberately being coy to see if anyone had other theories as to why Palin over Kay Bailey Hutchinson or Olympia Snowe or Patty Murray or Christine Todd Whitman.

  • P J Evans

     That’s how I was reading it also. It’s under-the-radar reverse dog-whistling, to avoid bringing in the trolls.

  • Carstonio

     Exactly. The post about Romney’s lies brought out many of them for days afterward, as if some of them were forwarding or reposting links like they were doing battle.

  • P J Evans

    It’s a great chasm and there’s nothing to be done about it — at least
    nothing that influential, highly effective, Top Ministry Leaders can do.

    Unless they really want to admit in public that they’re wrong about something. All they need is a Revelation from someone really influential. God generally wields good cluebat; I wonder why these guys aren’t getting Her message?

  • flat

    women you have disapointed me.

  • Lori


  • SisterCoyote

    …I feel like you may have missed the point, here, just a bit.

    (That, or your sarcasm has passed my comprehension, which is also possible.)

  • thatotherjean

    Thanks, Fred.  That’s . . . beautiful.  Sigh–so many interesting blogs;  so little time.

  • Patrick Anderson

    And I am disappointed at your ‘disapointed’.
    Just a little bit, but there it is.

  • J_Enigma32

    Talk about putting the “ass” in assumption. He must’ve done next to no research, and then doubled down on it by making himself look like a fool, too.

  • Mary Kaye

    Carstonio, Patty Murray is a Democrat, and Olympia Snowe is functionally an Independent–she ran on a Republican ticket but she wasn’t a reliable vote for them.  I agree that Hutchinson or Whitman would have made sense as VP picks.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a coherent explanation of McCain’s choice.  Then again, why Biden?

  • EllieMurasaki

    My personal bet? Hillary Clinton said no.

  • Lori

    I really don’t think she was ever asked. It was certainly discussed around the blogosphere but I just don’t think it’s likely that anyone from the Obama campaign ever discussed it with her.

    Biden was a somewhat odd choice, but not totally out of left field. He has some strengths in areas where Obama had weaknesses, but he didn’t have enough of a power base to overshadow Obama. That’s a big consideration when you’re trying to be the first black guy in the White House. If Obama had made a more “obvious” choice we would have spent the last 4 years hearing from the Right that the white guy was actually running the show and the black guy was just for show.

    ETA: At least that would have been the story every time Obama did something good. Look at the rumors that spread through Right Wing emails after the bin Laden raid. I know people who were totally ready to believe (and for all I know still do) that Leon Panetta ran that whole show after Obama lost his nerve and would have called it off. It was bad enough that a Democrat was in charge of that and not one of the mighty men of the GOP. The idea that it wasn’t a white guy just did not compute.

  • Carstonio

    Thanks for the correction. I was thinking of Susan Collins instead of Murray. I agree with Lori about the virtues of choosing Biden.

  • caryjamesbond

    Biden was a somewhat odd choice, but not totally out of left field. 

    Given that Biden is something of a dumbass noted for foot-in-mouth disease, I wondered if he was sort of an ugly friend gambit to make Obama look better by comparison. 

  • P J Evans

     He isn’t really a dumbass, and he does say what he thinks. (He’s a lot better than Cheney.)

  • Marc Mielke

    Biden’s really underrated. He was once a viable candidate for POTUS himself once. Lost to Clinton (I think), but that’s nothing to be ashamed of. 

  • thebewilderness

     No, he lost to himself for plagiarizing a speech. Oddly enough in today’s political climate it would be no big deal. At the time it was a very big deal.

  • Charity Brighton

     Considering how many of Biden’s recent “gaffes”, like the same-sex marriage thing, were things that were absolutely true and needed to be said years ago, I doubt that.

    Given that Biden is something of a dumbass noted for foot-in-mouth
    disease, I wondered if he was sort of an ugly friend gambit to make
    Obama look better by comparison.

    And that doesn’t make too much sense anyway. Palin did make McCain look a lot better by comparison, but her extremism repelled a lot of people who backed McCain because he had the image of a competent, moderate conservative. Hiring someone who you know or think is an idiot is a sign of bad leadership; it makes me and I think most people think less of  a leader when they suggest that they can’t be trusted to pick people. If Obama deliberately picked a “dumbass” to be his running mate, how could anyone trust him not to deliberately agencies his executive agencies with “dumbasses” the way his predecessor did?

  • Lori

    The ugly friend gambit really doesn’t work when you’re talking about the person a candidate is choosing to be next in line for the top job. If it did John McCain would be president now. Instead, one of the reasons that he’s not president is that he made such a spectacularly bad choice of VP.

    Beyond that, Biden is not dumb at all. He does have a rather noteworthy case of foot-in-mouth, but he’s a fabulous in-person campaigner and he connects very well with the blue collar segment of the Dem base. I think the choice was pretty much as it appears on the surface—Biden was chosen for his campaigning skills and to fill in some weaknesses and resume gaps without pulling focus.

  • Daughter

     Foot in mouth disease =/= dumbass. Biden’s a smart guy.

    I think he brings other strengths. He’s a white guy from a working class background — the demographic that Obama has the lowest support among (although recent surveys indicate that that’s very much a region, i.e., South, phenomenon).

    In addition, where Obama can seem cool and wonkish, Biden comes across as speaking from the heart. That has its appeal.

  • Invisible Neutrino

    And to think Republicans have gone so low as to trash him over relating personal details of the tragedies in his life. They have no shame.

  • Tricksterson

    I just figured that Obama and his handlers decided they needed the reassuring presence of an older white male  to avoid scaring the straights.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Given that Biden is something of a dumbass noted for foot-in-mouth disease, I wondered if he was sort of an ugly friend gambit to make Obama look better by comparison.

    I reckon Biden could do very well in Australian politics :)

  • Lori

    I really couldn’t believe when Palin tried to play the mom card on Biden. I remember thinking that she apparently needed to write “Was a single parent after the tragic death of his first wife” on her hand with all her other little notes.

  • thebewilderness

    Biden softened the anger women felt over the way Sec Clinton was treated by the self proclaimed liberal men during the primary because of VAWA.

    Also hahahahaha to where are all the women bloggers. They could have taken a lesson from how stupid the last bloggind00dz felt when they asked this question over and over again and finally got an answer. But noooo. They have to learn the embarrassing way, just like the other d00dz did.

  • chris the cynic

    When McCain was running Snowe still had a soul, there’s no way she would have been picked back then.

    Her decision not to run again makes her decision to sell that soul in order to be closer to what Republican primary voters would like even more bizarre in retrospect than it was at the time.

  • suzannah | the smitten word

    i love everything about this. nice work.

  • Jessica

    This is awesome. :)

  • Ymfon Tviergh


  • RodRogueDemonHunter!

    This list is filled with Calvinist bias. No doubt about that. 

  • Hypocee

    You may not want a dumb VP, but you do want an extreme one – one your opponents would hate in power more than you. It’s the #1 bullet repellent.

  • EllieMurasaki

    If that was Obama’s reasoning for picking Biden, how is Obama still alive? I don’t think any of the Psalm 109:8 Pray for Obama people would want Biden but I’m confident they’d prefer him to Obama.

  • Joshua

    Psalm 109:8 Pray for Obama? Is that actually a thing?

    Because, if so, it’s ironic that the speaker’s main problem with the ruler seems to be v16: 

    For he did not remember to show kindness,
    but pursued the poor and needy
    and the broken-hearted to their death.

  • EllieMurasaki
  • Joshua

    Well, that sucks.

  • Lori

    No, the Secret Service is the #1 bullet repellent. You can’t game would-be assassins. What works to discourage one will only inflame another.

  • Joshua

    I thought bullet-repellant was the main factor in choosing a VP candidate, actually, from Dan Quayle on.

    Dan Quayle
    Dick Cheney
    Sarah Palin

    Your bullet makes this person President.

    I guess by that logic, Hillary Clinton would have been a better choice than Joe Biden. Seeing as the black rage guy from Chasing Amy was presumably unavailable, being fictional and all.

  • Joshua

    Oh dear, HTML fail. Italics should have ended between Amy and was.

  • Carstonio

    The traditional goal of picking running mates was to balance the ticket, broadening the appeal by including someone from a different faction or different region. Quayle and Palin were generally attempts by old-school conservatives to appeal to more extreme elements in the party. Quayle’s father was a Birch acolyte. Gore was an unusual choice in that respect since he and Clinton had similar backgrounds and ideologies.

  • Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    the inequality gap is still and may always be a great chasm.

    Nothing says “entirely behind the fight for total equality!” like a preemptive declaration of equality’s potential unachievability, right?


    /weary sigh

  • EllieMurasaki

    To be entirely fair, I think eliminating wealth privilege is impossible without literally confiscating all the property and dividing it up into exactly equal bits and distributing it one bit per person, and even then, unless we do that once a year, wealth privilege will be back within a year or two, and born-to-money privilege within ten. There will always be some people who work harder than others, some people who work smarter than others, some people who get luckier than others, and some people will be two or three of those at once, and those advantages will accumulate unless things are regularly leveled out.

    Every other privilege I think can be eliminated if enough of us work hard enough for long enough at eliminating it. Not that one.

    (Which is not, of course, to say we can’t reduce wealth privilege, because we can and we must. And while we’re at it, we must ensure that people who lack wealth privilege do not suffer by the lack. But that inequality is always going to be present.)

  • Ross

     See, this is why I hate the language of “privilege” and “eliminating” it. Or even “reducing” it.

    Because you know what privileges wealth brings? It brings not having to be constantly wondering where your next meal is coming from. It brings not having to always assume the other guy is out to screw you. It brings being able to walk down the street in your own neighborhood and feel reasonably safe assuming no one is going to shiv for for drug money. It brings not having everyone you interact with start from the assumption that you’re a leech or a criminal.

    We always call it “privilege” and talk about ending it. But rich people, white people, straight people, cissexual people, they don’t have special priviliges that they don’t deserve; they have the rights which are due everybody.  The problem isn’t that some people have them, it’s that some people don’t.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I am not at all sure what you think I said but it bears little resemblance to what I meant. What I meant was, it is of course wrong that some people can afford champagne and caviar and other people cannot afford two thousand calories a day, but it is within our power to ensure that everyone can afford two thousand calories a day with enough variety to satisfy nutrition guidelines, avoid food allergies and the like, and cater to some extent to personal tastes. Ensuring that reduces the privilege of having money, not by taking away anyone’s ability to provide themselves with necessities and luxuries, but by giving some of that power to those who have not got it.
    There will still be people who can afford champagne and caviar and people who cannot, which I think we cannot change and should not try to. But as long as everyone is getting a balanced diet and enough of it, who cares?

  • Ansel Silver

    Well, yes, that’s what the problem is, and privilege is exactly the right word for the problem. It doesn’t mean “a good thing”, it means a thing that is denied to the out group. When we talk about ending wealth privilege, we don’t mean ending wealth, we mean ceasing as a society to privilege those with wealth. In a just society, some people will still have more money than other people, and that will still mean that they can afford to buy nicer and/or more stuff, it just won’t mean that their lives and livelihoods are more important.

  • Lori


    We always call it “privilege” and talk about ending it. But rich people,
    white people, straight people, cissexual people, they don’t have
    special priviliges that they don’t deserve; they have the rights which are due everybody.  The problem isn’t that some people have them, it’s that some people don’t.   

    It’s the fact of having them when others don’t that makes them privileges. That’s sort of the point of the term in this context. I get what you’re saying, I’m just not sure that this is the critical vocabulary issue. Talking about these things as rights, while true, runs you up against people like Romney who are outraged that people to expect to have food. That doesn’t seem to move the conversation forward at all.

  • vsm

    I’m not all that well-versed in privilege theory (or whatever it should be called), so I apologize in advance if I’m saying something stupid. However, doesn’t men’s greater average physical strength and size more or less guarantee that women in m/f relationships will always be more likely to be the targets of severe domestic violence than men in such relationships? Or do you consider the elimination of domestic violence a realistic goal? To me, it sounds about as likely as a society where wealth is redistributed evenly every year.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I am given to understand that domestic abusers, no matter what they and their victims say about their lack of control, actually control themselves quite well. They never go into a rage around someone who can hurt them (not their boss, not a cop, not someone who can physically equal or outmatch them and who is not emotionally tangled with them), only around people they feel they can hurt with impunity. If we can get it clear to everyone that no one can be hurt with impunity…I don’t know how hard this would be, but from where I’m standing it doesn’t look flatly impossible, and ensuring absolute economic equality does.

  • vsm

    I’d of course be happy if you were proven right, but I find it unlikely any campaign to educate people could be that effective. Someone will always do it anyway, and the result is generally going to be uglier when it’s a man. Lowering the amount of domestic violence cases should be possible, however.

  • The_L1985

     Actually, the fact that the average man is stronger than the average woman causes problems for men who are raped or physically abused by women.

    They are treated as if they are weak or unmanly for “letting” a woman overpower them.  Or they aren’t believed in the first place, because “women just aren’t that strong.”

    For rape, there’s the added stigma that men are supposed to always want sex, and women aren’t supposed to want it as much.  When a woman is raped, it’s a tragedy, but when a man is raped “you just KNOW he really enjoyed it.”

    I consider elimination of domestic violence to be a very distant goal.   We probably won’t achieve it within our lifetimes, but that doesn’t mean we’ll never get there.  And we’ll never get there if we don’t start working now to change people’s attitudes about domestic violence.

  • Lori

    What Ellie said about abusers and control.

    Also, the fact that men are generally larger & stronger does absolutely put women at a disadvantage. However, a smaller, weaker person can do a lot of damage against a person who won’t fight back. It’s not that women are always at a disadvantage, it’s that abusers can easily get the upper hand in a relationship with a person who for whatever reason can’t or won’t fight back and can’t or won’t leave.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    It’s pretty much a guarantee that whenever someone cries “Where are all the …[Christian women bloggers/pro-gay Christians/Muslims who denounce violence etc. etc.]” the answer will be “all over the place but you won’t see them.”

    You’ll point them out, Fred, but five minutes later they’ll be back asking “where are all the…?”

  • Invisible Neutrino

    Joe Biden took all the awesome  and personally embodied it when he frankly and wholeheartedly endorsed same-sex marriage. :)

  • Sarah Bessey

    This was freaking brilliant, Fred. Well done. Well done.

  • Dan Audy

    From what I’ve seen vsm that isn’t necessarily true.  Victims of female perpetrators of domestic violence tend to suffer injuries that show bi-modal distribution with a high early peak and a moderate late peak.  That is to say they most frequently cause minimal physical damage (throwing objects, ‘light’ punching) or less frequently cause significant physical trauma (use of knives, guns, or other weapons to offset their ‘physical strength and size’) with almost no moderate injuries (sprains, dislocations, fractures).  Victims of male perpetrators of domestic violence on the other hand suffer injuries that have a Rayleigh distribution with a early peak and a gentle tapering tail.  This means lots of minor injuries, a moderate amount of moderate injuries, and quite few very serious injuries.

    Overall I think education and measures to escape domestic violence have been quite successful but still have a long way to go.

  • Renee Ronika

    Thank you. 

  • Janel A

    i am a little slow. LOVED this. thanks for all those links.

  • Paul Wilkinson

    Took me a minute to figure out what you had going on with the links, but now that I get it, I might reblog this on Monday; seems a shame to let all that work go to waste.

    The list does seem skewed toward American male Calvinist bloggers. I addressed the latter situation in a post on mine that noted there tend not to be (as an example) a lot of Salvation Army bloggers because while everybody else is talking about their faith, these guys are out doing their faith. 

    And you’re addressing the male/female situation here.

    So it’s the American thing that bothers me. I wish I could find some solid British bloggers that wrote within an Evangelical context, not a Church of England context. Or good writers from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, etc. They exist, yes; but they’re hard to find.

  • Paul Wilkinson

    Sorry, by “go to waste” I meant, “not be maximized.”

  • B

    Re: Biden’s gaffes — I have read speculation that (at least to a certain extent) that might be part of the point: Biden can say things that SOMEONE needs to say and the White House gets a certain amount of plausible deniability because, hey, that silly Biden always sticking his foot in it, right?

  • Carstonio

    The reason I mentioned Sarah Palin is that I suspect that female officeholders in the GOP tend to be more centrist than their male counterparts, although I don’t have statistics proving or disproving this. If true, perhaps such women rightly perceive that the positions of people like Ryan are raw deals for women. Palin and Bachmann would be vocal exceptions, because these two are demagogues first and foremost. So it’s reasonable to similarly suspect that female Christian bloggers may be less Calvinist or pseudo-Calvinist, mostly or partly because that type of theology focuses on shaming female sexuality.

  • Laura @ Mothering Spirit

    Great compilation/rebuttal. Thanks for this – and for spreading the word with all those links!

  • J.R. Goudeau

    This is genius. I love subtle irony. Well done.

  • Maureen O’Brien

    Most of the blogs I read are by Christian women bloggers, and most of them have really good readership numbers. Soooo it looks like another case of “The Women Men Don’t See.” (Not the greatest sf story, but  the title does seem to apply to most Internet proclamations about how  women don’t blog.)

  • Ross

    “The Women Men Don’t See” could be the alternate title for “The City and The City” by China Mieville. (It’s a speculative fiction story based on the premise of a pair of cities occupying the same physical location, a bit like East and West Berlin, but without the wall. Instead, the two cities and their peoples interleave, living in physically adjacent buildings, driving down the same physical asphalt, but are legally required to not notice each other or interact in any way.  There might be a person whose house shares the same physical bricks as yours along one wall, but you are not allowed to notice him, or even knoiw he;’s there unless you leave the city and go through customs to enter the other city, whereupon you can’t see your house any more.)

    (The whole point of this digression is that it reminds me a lot of some of the things we’ve often addressed here such as mansplaining and the conservative christian ability to maintain a shocking ignorance about things even as they study and obsess over them as threats to their way of life)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I clicked through the the Church Relevance blog wherein I found the criteria to get on the list:

    To put it simply, a blog is a “church blog” if it offers content that is useful to ministry (according to my subjective opinion).

    If Kent largely finds the opinions of male American Calvanists useful to ministry and female, non-American non-Calvanists less useful, it says more about him and his idea of ministry (and “useful”) than the bloggers, imo.

  • MuseofIre

    This type of disingenuous “well, we just looked and looked but we couldn’t FIND any” wailing always makes me think of the discussion of the literary canon from about the mid-80s on. The professor dudes were all, “Is it our fault if all the really really important books just happen to have been written by white guys?” To which the response is, “Yes, it is your fault. Because you’re the ones who decided where to look and what constitutes really really important.”

  • Ericka

    Sometimes women leave their post from lack of esteem of role…..”Land of Diminished Distinctions” says so much that Christian women need to read. Check it out :)