- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fifty percent of the evangelical Christian world is hidden. They’re known as women.

Not long ago, I was paging through a list of “top 40” nonfiction authors in World magazine, an evangelical weekly. Thirty-eight of the authors were men; two were women.

I e-mailed an editor, asking about the gender imbalance. He said an upcoming list of fiction authors would include more female names.

What about female authors who write nonfiction, I asked. He took a look at the unsolicited books in his office. Of the 33 sent over the transom, only three were written by women.

I doubt the ratio of evangelical male to female writers is 10 to 1. What I suspect is that these women’s publishers are less apt to push their books.

Maybe women have gained equal rights in the secular world, but in the arena of religion, it’s another era. When HarperOne recently published its “Life With God Bible,” the four scholars mentioned on the cover were men — Richard J. Foster, Dallas Willard, Walter Brueggemann and Eugene Peterson.

Two female editors listed inside with Mr. Willard — Lynda Graybeal and Gayle Beebe — were not cited. Why was his name highlighted and theirs not?

Not long ago, Amazon sent me its list of the top eight best-selling religion authors: William Paul Young, Stephen Kendrick, Kevin Roose, Robert Wright, Timothy Keller, Andy Andrews, Bart Ehrman and Richard Stearns. Who’s missing here?

I searched the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association winners for 2008. Women won in fiction/children’s and inspirational/gift categories; men won in Christian life and Bible reference.

The results were more lopsided for 2009. Men won in Bible reference and study, children and youth, Christian life and inspiration, and gift categories. Women won in — no surprise — fiction.

Is it because women’s work is substandard? No. They’re not taken as seriously. For instance, Susan Wise Bauer, a brilliant William & Mary College professor, doesn’t get nearly the same airtime as her fellow evangelical scholars. How many publications gave serious space to her “The Art of the Public Grovel: Sexual Sin and Public Confession in America,” which featured President Clinton on the cover, or to her massive “History of the Ancient World”?

In September, a video was released called “Lord, Save Us From Your Followers: Why is the Gospel of Love Dividing America?” by Dan Merchant, a liberal evangelical filmmaker from Portland, Ore.

Pope John Paul II, U2 rock star Bono, “Blue Like Jazz” author Don Miller and Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren were all cited. Other commentators included Teen Mania Ministries President Ron Luce, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Evangelical Press Association President Dean Merrill.

When I asked Mr. Merchant why women were left out of the production, he asked me who he should have included, as he really didn’t know. Authors Joni Eareckson Tada and Anne Graham Lotz, for starters, I said.

But the invisible gender remains invisible. In the May/June 2009 issue of Ministry Today, there was an article titled “Gleaning from the Fathers: What Six Renowned Christian Pioneers Can Teach Us About Leadership.” It cited Lloyd Ogilvie, Jack Hayford, Henry Blackaby, Loren Cunningham, Winkie Pratney and John Perkins.

Why not Mrs. Tada, pro-life leader Alveda King or Concerned Women for America founder Beverly LaHaye? Aren’t these women considered pioneers or leaders?

I keep on asking this question, and I never get answers.

Julia Duin’s Stairway to Heaven column runs Sundays and Thursdays. Contact her at [email protected]

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