Are evangelical women missing from public life? At the Christianity Today blog her.meneutics, Katelyn Beaty makes a list of evangelicals influential in public life, and finds it one-sided:

pastors Rick Warren and Tim Keller

political leaders Joshua DuBois, Richard Land, Jim Wallis, and Frank Page

conservative pundits James Dobson and Chuck Colson

apologists Dinesh D'Souza and Lee Strobel

the hard-to-categorize Richard Mouw and Joel C. Hunter

But when it came to women on the same list, they came up short. Beth Moore, Anne Graham Lotz and Joyce Meyer, but they're all influential within the church instead of outside it. 

Interesting. I can think of female Religious Right leaders — Phyllis Schlafly (Eagle Forum), Wendy Wright (Concerned Women for America — but their influence doesn't nearly rise to the level of the men on this list. A commenter reluctantly suggested Sarah Palin. I suppose, but she's a politician, not someone influencing political thought like Richard Land or Jim Wallis. All the female Christian authors I can think of seem to have more of an audience within the church than outside it.

That's what's interesting — women have more influence inside the church than outside it. Why is this? My guess is that the evangelical church accepts women in the role of spiritual counselors because of the lingering Victorian idea that women are gentler, more spiritual and just all around more naturally virtuous than men. They're good at Bible studies and exhorting people to live good lives. … But (so the idea goes) they should do it privately, not publicly since women's sphere is in the home. Not in the pulpit and not in the public square. Also (so they say) women deal with emotions and not reason. It's a way of putting women on a pedestal but also limiting their role, their development, and especially men's development, too. There's a reason women are more religious than men — men think that religion is just for women.

This theory of evangelical gender relations explains so much about the church to me, and this seems to be another example of it.

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Alisa Harris

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