Sunday, July 09, 2006

Bad News RevGals: We are the whole problem

On the other hand, maybe I should just forget the whole thing. Charlotte Allen has cleverly worked out that women clergy are at the heart of the decline of mainline Protestantism . . .

A quote from her op ed piece in today's L.A. times:

It doesn't help matters that the mainline churches were pioneers in ordaining women to the clergy, to the point that 25% of all Episcopal priests these days are female, as are 29% of all Presbyterian pastors, according to the two churches. A causal connection between a critical mass of female clergy and a mass exodus from the churches, especially among men, would be difficult to establish, but is it entirely a coincidence? Sociologist Rodney Stark ("The Rise of Christianity") and historian Philip Jenkins ("The Next Christendom") contend that the more demands, ethical and doctrinal, that a faith places upon its adherents, the deeper the adherents' commitment to that faith. Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, which preach biblical morality, have no trouble saying that Jesus is Lord, and they generally eschew women's ordination. The churches are growing robustly, both in the United States and around the world.

14 comments:

Gord said...

Balderdash!

Amy said...

For the record, the Assemblies of God is a large Pentecostal denomination which encourages women's ordination.

Katherine said...

Charlotte Allen never fails to exasperate me.

Though articles like this never fail to leave me chilled, even as I generally eschew their hysterics about the mainline church.

This is what I'm telling myself this time: there are still plenty of Christians who encounter Christ within the mainline traditions. I believe in the openness mainline churches struggle to embody (even the traditionalists within our churches often value that issues require faithful discernment, not quick doctrinal stamps of disapproval. Yes, the "New Christendom" Philip Jenkins illuminates is growing (his article & book regarding the NC was a big matter of discussion at CST when I was there), but just because mainliners are now margin-dwellers doesn't mean we don't have a prophetic witness to the gospel. Since when is popularity a sign of faithfulness? Balderdash, indeed.

Sigh.

SpookyRach said...

HAHAHAHA!

That's so stupid its funny.

Sue Densmore said...

Hello, there!

I had to tell you how happy I am to have stumbled on some of these bogs in the RevGalBlogPals group. I found myself laughing at the descriptions of your "average churchgoer," and finally dedided to thank you all for being pastors and for writing about it.

I am in a charismatic evangelical church in southeastern NH which is pretty progressive. I say this because they let some of us girls preach. Actually, our pastor has a mixed gender team of people who preach, and it has been great.

Anyhow, I don't want to ramble, I just wanted to say thanks for sharing - all of you.

Sue Densmore
lifeonthespiral.blogspot.com

zorra said...

Lord help us.
One of the first things you learn in undergraduate statistics is "correlation does not imply causation."
And I'm not even sure there's really a correlation here, to begin with.

reverendmother said...

Zorra said what I was going to say almost verbatim.

Let's see... the mainline has been in decline in the latter half of the 20th century, right? Let's blame the decline on rock and roll music, or putting a man on the moon, why don't we.

JWD said...

Can you say witch hunt? ARGH!!!

jledmiston said...

wow.

St. Casserole said...

Ewwww, I don't know Charlotte Allen, haven't heard of her.
Maybe she's run out of stuff to write about or just needed the cash from submitting this article.

PeaceBang said...

But just to play devil's advocate, what do you think people who agree with Charlotte Allen would identify as the particular problem with women clergy? Aside from the fact that we get PMS and don't generally look very good in Geneva gowns?

What stereotypes would they be flinging if we asked them? That we emote too much from the pulpit? That we feminize church culture too much? That we aren't good fiscal managers? What else?

Songbird said...

Isn't it something about men feeling emasculated when the person in authority is not a man, too? Which begs the question how confident these men, whoever they might be, are in their manhood?

Sue said...

You gotta be kidding me!

I wonder if we're responsible for global warming too? Oh wait, the Republicans still think that's a myth, right? Well, not to worry... I'm sure when they finally 'fess up to the fact that we're destroying the planet, they will find a way to make it the fault of uppity women.

peripateticpolarbear said...

Yuup, the statistics thing, and also the whole intervening variable factor (stats nerd checking in here.) Even if you could prove causation--women clergy = decline, the truth is that women clergy=church conflict. Church conflict=decline. As conflict recedes, it is safe to say, decline will recede. In the history of the big old church, 50 years is a drop in the bucket. And, of course, conflict is usually a sign of engagement in tough stuff. Engagement can be a predictor of growth. Bleh.