Welcome to this week’s ALL TOGETHER -- the podcast dedicated to exploring how ethics, religion and spiritual practice inform our personal lives, our communities and our world. ALL TOGETHER is hosted by Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, executive editor of HuffPost Religion. You can download All Together on iTunes, or Stitcher.
When Raushenbush was growing up in the 70’s, his Presbyterian church in Madison, Wisconsin had a woman serving on the altar as associate pastor. This just seemed normal to him. He later found out that women in a pastoral leadership position in the church at that time was not common and is still the exception rather than the rule within Christianity.
Recently, Rev. Libby Lane was consecrated as Bishop of Stockport making her the first woman Bishop in the Church of England. The stain glass ceiling break-through only occurred after years of debate and still, at her consecration, a priest stood and objected. In Orthodox Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church and in some Protestant denominations, women are not allowed to serve as pastors or priests. Pope Francis, who has been so open on many issues, has slammed the door shut to any debate on women serving as priests.
Given that women surrounded Jesus during his ministry, were the last to stay with Jesus at the cross, and the first to see him resurrected; it appears clear that Jesus believed in the spiritual power and perception of women. So, why does the church not hold women in the same esteem as did Jesus, the founder and center of the faith?
To help him understand the continuing sexism in the Christian Church, Raushenbush spoke with four extraordinary women: the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Katharine Jefferts-Schori, the recent US ambassador for Religious Freedom the Rev. Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook, The President of Union Theological Seminary, The Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, and the one and only Sister Joan Chittister.
These four women spotlight the Church’s original sin of sexism; however their lives and wisdom inspire hope for the future when all the church might benefit from the spiritual power of women on the pulpit as well as the pew.
Raushenbush recommends a new book by Rev. Dr. Susan Shaw called Reflective Faith: A Theological Toolbox for Women. The book offers readers to consider for themselves the role of women in the church and in scripture in an easy to read style.
The podcast ends with a final question, answer and demand from none other than Beyonce who asks: "Who runs the world? Girls."