Grace Ji-Sun Kim: Women rise up

RNS asked Grace Ji-Sun Kim, a theologian and author, to consider what 2018 will mean for religion.

RNS asked some of the country’s top faith leaders, scholars and activists to consider what changes the religion landscape will see in 2018. Find all their predictions here.

(RNS) — 2017 began with the worldwide Women’s March to protest the need for women’s rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, reproductive rights, the natural environment, LGBTQ rights, racial equality, freedom of religion and workers’ rights. It gathered women and men from all backgrounds in a world-wide phenomenon that kicked off the “10 Actions for the First 100 Days” campaign.

The women’s movement continued throughout the year with the Women’s Convention, held in October in Detroit. This helped lead  to the #MeToo social campaign, which protested sexual harassment which ended the careers prominent male figures in film and television such as Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose. Then TIME magazine announced their Person of the Year as “The Silence Breakers,” the women and men who spoke out about sexual harassment and assault.

Women have had an incredible year of influence in the society at large. As we now enter 2018, my prediction is that women will continue to be influential in the wider society as well as in the churches. The hashtag #ChurchToo began in the fall to address that the church is not void of violence against women. At the end of 2017, the #SilenceIsNotSpiritual campaign began targeting the silence around sexual assault and harassment in the church. 

As all these movements go into 2018, I believe that they will become prophetic voices in the Church. The Catholic Church went through a reformation 500 years ago in 1517; the church today will need to enter a second reformation to fight for women’s voices, women’s equality and the end to violence set against women. New teachings of women’s equality in the church will transform the Church and reform the patriarchal leaders in the Church. Not only is this going to try to dismantle patriarchy, but also white supremacy, which is so embedded in our churches.

The other side of the coin is that white supremacy movements will become more vitriolic in response to advances by the woman’s movements, and these tendencies will continue to be soto voce encouraged by the White House. Thus, the danger of incidents such as we saw in Charlottesville, Va., may become more common against women’s groups, churches, and universities.

The women’s movement is not a white women’s movement, but a movement which includes all women of different gender, ethnicity sexuality, and socio-economic status.  All women will create a shift, a reformation, in how the Church is structured and lived out. It is important to listen to the wise women’s voices which will reformed the Church once again and make a paradigm shift for gender equality. Since so many women of color are involved in this movement, we can also expect a movement towards racial equality. Therefore, 2018 will be the year of women leaders who will create a reformation that will guide the Church into a new existence.

(Grace Ji-Sun Kim is an associate professor of theology at Earlham School of Religion and the author of “Embracing the Other.” The views expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

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