- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 6, 2008

The other day I received a new book, “Religion and the American Future,” published by the American Enterprise Institute, that had a curious omission.

Of the 22 religion scholars whose essays appear in the book, not one of them was female.

I looked again. Surely there are many women out there who could have written for their “religion and art” chapter, such as Sister Wendy Beckett, the South African-born British nun whose commentaries have opened up the world of art for millions of readers and PBS TV viewers.

Or their religion and science chapter: Surely they could have located Nancy Pearcey, author of “The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy,” who only lives 30 miles south of the District.

Or for the European chapter, did anyone know of Diane Moczar, an expert in European church history who teaches at Northern Virginia Community College, which is even closer?

After an e-mail to the book’s publicist got me no response, I began thinking about how many times women are simply left out of the world of religion. In a recent issue of “Books and Culture,” an evangelical academic magazine, I spotted a seminar on preaching sponsored by Lipscomb University’s school of theology.

Listed was the erudite Walter Brueggemann, retired professor at Columbia Theological Seminary and the Rev. Brian McLaren, a local author and a national leader in the emergent church movement. Five other theologians - all male - were listed in the credits.

Are we supposed to infer that women don’t know anything about the topic?

When I was doing research for my newest book, “Quitting Church” (to be released Sept. 1), I wrote a whole chapter on why women no longer want to attend. One reason: They are non-persons in much of religion’s public life.

When I searched through a late 2006 issue of Christianity Today, I saw an ad for “Faith Forward,” a conference on the changing mission of the church sponsored by mega-church pastor Robert Schuller. Of the 18 speakers, the only woman was Arvella Schuller, wife of the sponsor.

Then I saw an ad in Charisma, another Christian magazine, about a February 2007 “Creative Church Conference” led by Grapevine, Texas, pastor the Rev. Ed Young. Again, lots of high-powered men of various ethnicities were listed but no women.

A June 2007 list of best-selling authors listed in Christianity Today magazine listed only male authors except for Denver evangelist Joyce Meyer. Colorado Springs writer Stasi Eldredge was also listed as a co-writer (for her book “Captivating”) with her better-known husband, John.

Just the other day, I called up the front page of Christianity.com and found three columnists and two bloggers: all male. The only female face was in the ministry audio section that featured posts on pets and the family.

Are Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s backers right when they say sexism is more entrenched in our culture than racism?

Even innocent mentions of women get excised. I just got a press release from a Cleveland-based Catholic group called FutureChurch. It calls attention to a disproportionate number of biblical verses about women being deleted from the lectionary, a book of scriptural passages read out loud Sundays in Catholic and Protestant churches.

It all reminds me of a monthly column in New Mexico magazine called “One of Our Fifty is Missing,” a list of quotes about how the general public thinks the nation’s 47th state is still part of Mexico.

In much of the church, there is a whole gender missing.

Julia Duin’s column appears Thursdays and Sundays. She can be reached at [email protected]

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