Equal in Faith: Women Fast for Gender Justice in Religion by Lorie Winder

­­Lorie's FB Photo (2)It’s time—past time, really, that we gather as an interfaith community to state, unequivocally, “Gender equity shouldn’t stop at the doors of our churches, synagogues and mosques.”  That’s why I’ll fast at the end of the month with Equal in Faith:  Women Fast for Gender Justice in Religion.

On August 26, women of many faiths will mark National Women’s Equality Day by joining together in a nation-wide fast for gender justice and the equitable inclusion of women in their religious traditions. Sponsored by the Women’s Ordination Conference and Ordain Women, organizations seeking priesthood for women in Roman Catholicism and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), respectively, the day-long fast will culminate in an interfaith prayer service from 6:30-7:30 PM at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church in Washington, DC, a congregation noted for its long-standing support of civil and religious equality.

Those who cannot attend the service in Washington, DC are encouraged to participate virtually through Equal in Faith’s Facebook event page.  In particular, Equal in Faith’s organizers, of whom I am one, invite those who join us in fasting to post a personal statement in support of gender equity in their religious tradition on our Facebook event page.

I’m certainly not the first to acknowledge that religion and its foundational documents can be interpreted either to liberate or subjugate women. [i] Since fasting and prayer are spiritual practices common to many religious communities, I join Equal in Faith’s organizers in hoping that such interfaith events will underscore our faith-affirming belief in the ability of religion to do the former.  A quick Google search or, more productive, a perusal of past posts on Feminism and Religion, document not only the fact that women and men in many traditions join us in this belief, but also that religion matters and has far-reaching influence in the broader community.

In a recent panel presentation on the Ordain Women movement in the Mormon church, Kate Kelly borrowed the phrase “peak patriarchy” from a discussion on climate change and land management.[ii]  Just as we’ve nearly reached “peak oil,” which describes a situation where sources of oil are finite and, ultimately, reach a point where production peaks and they are unsustainable, Kelly asserts we’ve reached a point of “peak patriarchy.”  Patriarchal institutions, including churches, are increasingly unsustainable.

I believe we have a choice. We can either perpetuate inequality through silence and inaction, or we can work together now for more just, equitable, and sustainable religious communities.  How?  By joining with organizations like the Women’s Ordination Conference, Roman Catholic Womenpriests, Ordain Women, Baptist Women for Equality, Ordain Women Now in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Women of the Wall, Muslims for Progressive Values, to name just a few, and participating in events like Equal in Faith.  I hope to see you, either virtually or in Washington, DC, on August 26.  It’s time.

[i] See, for example, Jimmy Carter,  “The Words of God Do Not Justify Cruelty to Women,” The Guardian, July 11, 2009.

[ii] See http://guymcpherson.com/2013/03/peak-patriarchy/

Lorie Winder has an MA in Humanities from Brigham Young University and is the former editor of the Mormon Women’s Forum Quarterly, an LDS feminist publication.  She is one of the organizers of Ordain Women and Equal in Faith:  Women Fast for Gender Justice in Religion. 

Categories: Activism, General

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8 replies

  1. Good for all of you!

    It would be nice if you also recognized that women are working outside traditional patriarchal religions to create equality in religion and spirituality. All too often, we are left off the lists created by women working within traditional religions. Why? I think we have a lot in common.


    • Point well taken, Carol. My intent was not to exclude, but to focus on groups working within patriarchal religious traditions. I know many women who have left my tradition, in part, because the gender exclusive structure was incompatible with their belief in equality and their experience of the divine. I certainly welcome the voices of those who choose not to stay and, instead, create spiritual communities outside of their religious traditions. Their very existence is an important critique of the status quo.

      As you well know, however, there are many reasons women remain in traditional religious communities–belief, cultural identity, family ties, political and societal influences, to name just a few. My hope is that events like Equal in Faith will ignite a conversation about maintaining what we value in our religious traditions but transforming them–and, by extension, the wider society–into more equitable communities.


  2. “Peak patriarchy.” Yeah! An idea whose time as come. Good luck to you all.


  3. I also really like the idea of “peak patriarchy.” What a powerful avenue for consideration: the ways in which oppressions become unsustainable for the very institutions that seek to maintain exclusive power. Very interesting.

    I wish you all well in your fast! I work at a Catholic school, so I will pass this on as well!


  4. It’s liberalism at its very best and does nothing to change the foundations of these patriarchal religions. Women for centuries have had our own beliefs, pagan rituals, Wiccan priestesses, so this malestream list of “malestream denominations” is well peak patriarchy as is its cousin peak heterosexuality. No thanks.


  5. P.S. I really hate the term “gender justice” and prefer the term women’s liberation. Women aren’t a gender we are a sex, and we are also a part of a sex class system in which men are dominant and women are forced to be submissive. “Gender studies blender studies” as Mary Daly used to say.


  6. I love the idea and am interested in participating. This is off topic, but at the bottom of your wonderful article on the Equal In Faith fast day, an ad showed up (in my browser at least) that looked like it was supposed to be a video and the still shot for the video was a picture of a depressed looking woman with her hair covering 3/4 of her face and on the other side was a picture of her butt and legs. I thought the video was part of your article until I saw the link above it saying “about these ads” and a “Guess Jeans” logo on the picture.

    My point is, while I didn’t actually click on that ad, the picture for it was incredibly objectifying of women, which was initially very confusing since I thought it was part of the post. I know you need to create a revenue stream for your website, but I wish you would screen your ads better. I come to a website like this to get more information on how to help women achieve equality and then at the bottom I see one of the many ads that just make me feel like crap about my body.

    *note: I have no objections to women dressing in tank tops and skinny jeans, that was NOT my problem with it. My problem was that on one side of the picture they only showed the bottom half of her body and on the other side, her face was covered by her hair — both are classic marketing tactics of turning the woman in the ad into an object solely used to sell their clothes – rather than a person.


    • Hello E.J. and thank you for your comment. I am one of the project co-weavers for Feminism and Religion. I wanted to let you know that the ads are not part of our website – we do not allow advertisements, not make any revenue from this site. Feminism and Religion is all volunteer run. I wonder if the ads are being generated through your browser. I use Chrome for my browser and I remember that at one point I had to change my settings in order to opt out of ads. They browser had begun to run ads that linked to random words through out the web content (random to me but apparently relevant for the ad) and I would also get visual advertisements that I found offensive – so I investigated and was able to change my settings – perhaps you can look that up on your browser?

      Thanks again for your comment and raising this concern.


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