1. Did the research show any difference in lifelong membership in the faith?

  2. It would have been good for girls to have had a woman in the very highest leadership position of all, President of the United States, but a majority of white women said no to that. And so here we are.

  3. There was a woman running for President? You’re kidding. When?

  4. I’ll speak to my own religious tradition, which is Roman Catholicism, but I’m sure this applies to other traditions as well. The greatest failing of my Church is that we didn’t heed Jesus’ warning in Matthew 23 not to give in to the temptation to develop a paternalistic hierarchy. Every problem within Catholicism today — and a great many of the problems in Western society — can be attributed to that failing.

    I love my Church, but we are governed by a cadre of old men with very narrow vision and limited life experience who are replaced every generation by more just like them. That’s a problem.

  5. “Role models matter.”


    If the lesson learned is that all people are entitled to the same opportunities, the same support and the same rewards the more, and more effective, role models we have the better for all levels of society from the individual to the global. The sex/gender/orientation of the role model should be, but probably isn’t yet, irrelevant.
    If the lesson learned is that supernatural belief is worth more than reason and logic the fewer such role models exist the better. The sex/gender/orientation of the role model should be, but probably isn’t yet, irrelevant.

  6. When Roman Catholics don’t understand the male priesthood, it reveals the sin of self-serving for the ego. Please study your faith. If Mary isn’t the greatest role model for women, than we have truly sunk to the lowest low.

  7. It is a problem — in more ways than one.

  8. What exactly is a problem?

    That rockchalkwombat has completely misread Matthew 23, or that the successors to the Apostles run the Church?

  9. Thank you for highlighting this research; I am adding this book to my reading list. I was recently commissioned as provisional clergy in a denomination that has been ordaining women for over fifty years and has an even longer history of supporting female leadership in the church generally. Still, I only had one female pastor growing up and did not have a female clergy mentor until my final year of seminary. That’s better than many Christian women, but I will admit to struggling with my call to ordained ministry in part because of a dearth of female ecclesial role models. This research has made me more aware and appreciative of the role I now may play in the lives of women and girls in my own ministry.

  10. Thank you Amanda. This is one of dozens of different research findings that we share in our book, and we hope that it is a useful resource to those involved in conversations about women and leadership in religious congregations.

  11. Thanks Brian for the question. We surveyed at one period of time and asked people who attended religious services at least occasionally growing up (nearly all of our respondents) to tell us about the frequency of male vs. female leaders in their youth. We also asked them their current religious identity and the characteristics of their congregations now as well as other traits and characteristics now. So to answer your question, we are indirectly able to observe some time-factors, but we don’t have a specific measure of whether or not they converted to their current religious identity at a point in the past. Thank you for the good question.

  12. Did you interview males at all, or was this survey directed solely to females?

  13. Which point, that it would have been good, or that the majority of white women said “no”, or that here we are?

  14. We surveyed and interviewed both men and women. On this particular topic, we found that most of these outcomes (self-esteem, education, employment, etc.) among men were almost always unrelated to the gender of their religious leaders growing up. The only differences we found were among women.

  15. Then did you find a difference between different ages of women, e.g., did you find younger women more likely to report outcome (self-esteem, education, employment, etc.) correlated to gender of religious leaders growing up then older?

  16. The problem is you and your idiocy and deception, Bobose, as usual.

  17. Bishops are not “the successors to the Apostles”. What a load of self-serving, self-aggrandizing crap.

  18. The Roman Catholic “male [ordained] priesthood” is doctrinal fiction. Jesus describes himself as a “prophet”, and, elsewhere in scripture, his followers acknowledge his status as a “prophet”, never as any kind of “priest” (HEBREWS is the sole exception, but it is typology serving a different purpose, namely, recruitment and retention of new Christians from Judaism). The earliest Christians were “priests” by virtue of their baptism. There was no ministerial ordination to any kind of “priesthood”. Liturgical presidership was based on the person’s community leadership. Furthermore, there is no evidence that the Twelve served as leaders/bishops of local churches or ordained anyone to serve in this capacity. Even during the Middle Ages including at the Council of Trent, there were a good number of bishops who did not see their “priesthood” as any higher than that of the “priests” under them! (Even Aquinas apparently subscribed to this view!)

    The “faith”, by the way, is Christianity, not Catholicism or Orthodoxy or any other *faith tradition*. “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” I suggest you study the history of ordained Catholic ministry and the primitive Christian churches.

  19. A tree fell in the forest. A man was in the forest when it happened. The tree fell because the man was in the forest. Sounds logical to me.

  20. So, do you know if those areas in the Central Conference Region have any significant number of women ministers, are do you want to be cute?

  21. Lisa Ann, don’t sweat Joseph Jaglowicz.

    He is a rather embittered ex-Catholic who used to be a regular raconteur at National “Catholic” Reporter until that slowly demising organization ended its comment section.

    The existence of a divinely instituted sacrament of Orders is recognized by 85% of Christians in the world, including the bulk of Anglicans, not because it’s fun but because the evidence is irrefutable.

  22. Which explains why your religion is dying, as it richly deserves.

  23. It’s funny how you appear to not have even noticed that Jana spoke directly about your stupid deductions in her introduction to this article! Here you are at it again.

  24. Even the LDS Church, of which Jana is a member, believes that there would have been successors to the Apostles in the primitive Church. Albeit, they would have expected that they were more Apostles, such as Matias, selected to replace Judas.

    Many modern day Christians still subscribe to the idea that there were successors to the Apostles, and we usually point to our current bishops as those successors.

  25. Point us to a Gospel account where Jesus is recorded as having said any such thing, please.

  26. I’ve had experiences of having female clergy leading the local congregation and men doing the same. I’ve found that the women were much better at being pastoral leaders than the men. Men trample all over everything and everyone with their assumed privilege. I feel that it has been a very positive experience to have female clergy for myself and by my observations, for the congregation as well.

  27. Dr Knoll, I wonder if you know of or have met Dr Majorie Proctor-Smith? She has authored a number of books in the feminist theology vein, such as In Her Own Rite. She was my professor when I studied at SMU in the early 80s.

  28. The problem with “successors to the Apostles” is the ambiguity of the term. How do today’s bishops *succeed* to the Twelve including Matthias? In addition, there is no evidence the Twelve served as heads/bishops of local churches, nor is there any evidence the Twelve ordained anyone to serve in such a capacity. In the Gospel, Jesus is portrayed commissioning the Apostles to go forth, preach, and baptize. Traditionally, the Twelve (including Matthias) are labeled “Apostles” (upper case “A”) while others who were “sent forth” are designated “apostles” (lower case “a”). Then we have the “sticky wicket” of the “ordained priesthood”. In Catholic theology, a validly ordained bishop is required to ordain someone to the “priesthood”. However, there were no “ordained priests” in the earliest Christian communities; priesthood was conferred on male and female alike by baptism, and the notion of “sacrifice” was related to doing one’s best to emulate Jesus’ ministry to people in need. It was not cultic in nature. Worship was led by an unordained presbyter or episkopos, terms not to be confused with our understanding of priest and bishop today. In Catholic theology, a bishop is a higher-level of ordained priesthood and is necessary to ordain someone to the episcopate/bishopric. Problem is that during the Middle Ages including the Council of Trent, there were not a few bishops who saw themselves as being no higher in their priesthood than that of the clerics under them (this fact is significant because of the “intent” of the ordaining bishop). The earliest extant ministerial ordination rituals for bishop and presbyter are contained in the “Apostolic Tradition”, often attributed to “Hippolytus” (likely an inaccurate attribution) and customarily dated ca. 215 AD. More recent scholarship suggests this body of material (available online, by the way) may date from as early as 150 to as late as 350 AD and represents the work of several authors representing various Christian communities over a number of years. What is most interesting is that the ordination for presbyter has no reference to the individual leading Christian worship, and the ordination for bishop includes only threadbare reference to such duty.

  29. I agree that women need strong role models at church. We look for them where we can. My laurels young womens advisor was a leader to us. I looked to strong women at church for role models as well. It is a shame that we barely see or hear from stake women leaders. On a larger scale, Sheri Dew was a leader. Cheiko Okasaki was a leader. My issue is that no women in LDS church serve for life anymore. The arbitrary 5 years service thing works to prevent any strong women leaders from staying long lasting in our memories. For this reason I am always very sad about releases. We have just barely started to learn from them.

  30. Your approach is definitely one way to see the situation, but by no means the chiseled-in-stone Gospel truth of the matter. At least I don’t see it that way. I don’t think there is anyone proposing that the understanding of religious orders in the Church existed from the beginning. The terms presbyter and bishop appear to have been used interchangeably. But the Church in its wisdom saw fit for an evolution of orders to develop. Eventually, bishops, as their congregations out grew the ability of one person to lead, broke their flock into smaller congregations based in geographical areas and set apart leaders for these smaller groups with both local leader and congregation answering to and under the leadership of the bishop. Which later still led to the concept of dioceses and parishes and as these became more and more populated the idea of breaking one parish into two with a new local leader and one diocese into two and creating a new senior pastor for it’s leadership.

    As to the role of the Apostles in leading local congregations, etc, perhaps look into the histories of the journeys of the Apostles and the number of ancient churches once in existence and some still existing today who look to various Apostles for their founding and organization.

    Yes, the form the churches take today are all the result of growth and evolution to accommodate that growth, always looking back to an Apostolic authority as the permission to evolve and create new units and leaders.


    The passage most relevant to your question is:

    “Christ chose those whom he willed (cf. Mk 3:13-14; Jn 6:70), and he did so in union with the Father, “through the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:2), after having spent the night in prayer (cf. Lk 6:12). Therefore, in granting admission to the ministerial priesthood, the Church has always acknowledged as a perennial norm her Lord’s way of acting in choosing the twelve men whom he made the foundation of his Church (cf. Rv 21:14). These men did not in fact receive only a function which could thereafter be exercised by any member of the Church; rather they were specifically and intimately associated in the mission of the Incarnate Word himself (cf. Mt 10:1, 7-8; 28:16-20; Mk 3:13-16; 16:14-15).”

    Your own church, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, ordains only men for similar reasons.


  32. No, I don’t know his identity. I’ve always been me. No pseudonyms.

    I was born and raised an Episcopalian. When I was 18 I joined the LDS Church. I was also employed by the LDS Church, once in various capacities in SLC and later for Deseret Industries in CA. From 1975 – 76 I was full-time LDS missionary in theMontana Billings Mission. When I was 27 I was excommunicated because I am gay, After that, I spent a number of years associated with the Metropolitan Community Churches. During that time I completed a 4 year Master’s degree in Theology where my Master’s Project was an extended and detailed research paper on the LDS Church. In 2001 I returned to the Anglican/Episcopal Church which was at that point moving towards being LGBTQ friendly and accepting.

    I don’t lie and I have nothing to hide.

  33. That hasn’t been my church for a very long time.

  34. You are mistaken.
    You won’t find LeRoy’s comment in the list of comments in my profile. I’ve had my account since 2013.

    Earlier you said that LeRoy’s account was brand new with only one comment. This is his account;

  35. Yes, someone – a regular – created an identity specifically to make a single comment.

  36. I’m not sure what your point is. Yes I was a member of the LDS Church during the time period of which I spoke in that comment. The year was 1972, as stated in the comment, when those events occurred. That was 46 years ago.

  37. That may be true, but it wasn’t me.

  38. I should also I point out I may have cheated. I already knew that research indicates four factors predict support for women’s ordination:

    1 – Congregational practices: Those who attend congregations that ordain women are 40% more likely to support women’s ordination than those who do not.

    2 – “Religiosity”: Those who attend religious services only seldom are about 30% more likely to support female clergy than those who attend multiple times a week.

    3 – Political partisanship: Strong Democrats are about 30% more likely to support women’s ordination than strong Republicans.

    4 – Theological orthodoxy: Those who believe that their religious tradition should “adopt modern beliefs and practices” are about 20% more likely to support women’s ordination than those who prefer to “preserve traditional beliefs and practices.”

    So, you might fairly conclude that if you want a church which has attendees who rarely show up, vote Democratic, and are uber liberal you should ordain women.

    Sounds like the Episcopal Church, eh?

  39. Don’t worry, Bob. We won’t publicly tell your lover floydlee that you’ve been cheating. Seems to have helped you to admit it though.

  40. Bobose Arnzen Carioca is at his usual tricks again…but we caught him at it.

  41. Bobose Arnzen Carioca, you are all troll all the time. And you are an AS$HOLE.

  42. “Men who had female congregational leaders frequently growing up have
    levels of self-esteem that are just as high as those who never had a
    female pastor or priest.” Which means two things: first, women in the pulpit do not have a negative impact on the life of the church, which gives doubters even less fuel for their fire; second, if women are feeling better about themselves as a result of having female clergy, and there is no negative effect on men, then it’s a huge win for the church to have women as leaders.
    I wonder if the shrinking of the church is actually due to the imbalance between women and men in the pulpit. When I first started in ministry, I had an epiphany early on. Looking out at my congregation and seeing that the majority of my flock consisted of women, I wondered to myself “Why doesn’t our leadership, both lay and ordained, reflect this reality? Why aren’t 70% of our clergy and Elders women? Perhaps if women had been better represented throughout the church’s history then we wouldn’t have had the precipitous decline seen recently. And maybe, if women had been in positions of power from the earliest days of faith, we wouldn’t have the problems caused by the patriarchy?

  43. Are you asking why Christianity is counter-cultural?

  44. And those female leaders are sometimes “put in their place.” Wanting to share a female perspective and female voices, President Barbara Smith shared opinions and suggestions from the Relief Society Board with some of the twelve apostles and seventies. After doing so, she was called in by one of the seventies where “he tore her apart. He told her never, never do anything like that again.”

    The famous Proclamation was written by a committee of men. Cheiko Okasaki lamented that female voices were not welcome on that committee..

    When the First Vision movie was filmed, and the scene where Joseph shares his experiences with his family was reviewed by a priesthood authority, the reviewer objected to the character playing Luck Mack Smith squeezing Joseph’s arm in support. His comment: “Why did you feature the mother? We’ve got to feature the father. This is a priesthood-oriented church.”

    It is this kind of attitude that discourages women’s voices, women’s participation and the development of strong female leaders.

  45. I’m pretty sure that Lev isn’t one of the four Gospels..

  46. For those who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day saints, would it worth pointing out that the Melchizedek priesthood is restricted to males only, noting that Kate Kelly was excommunicated four years ago for advocating ordination for women?

    “Female leaders” never include females priests, among other restrictions.

  47. Doesn’t matter, Bobose. Christianity is all BULLSHI​T, all the time.

  48. You’re very ignorant. And very stu​pid.

  49. You’re two days late. What happened, your algorithm crash?

  50. And again, do I need to give you a lesson on Who Christ is?

  51. No, I’m fully aware of your Jesus Only, mixed up doctrine of the Trinity.

  52. This is one of several IDs said individual uses.

    Given that it/she/he is obviously disturbed, I block the IDs when they show up and enjoy being undisturbed.

  53. There is only Jesus, as He is God. See, you can learn. Next class the Holy Spirit and the Father part of God. Now don’t put your gum under your desk

  54. I asked my catholic priest chaplain for his thoughts on this and he made an interesting point. God is transcendent. To expect God to fit into our boxes would be bit much (told me to read a book “Your God is too Small” written back in 60s. Anyway he shared what made sense to me. IF God is transcendent and more than us how can running theology based of human experience adn expectation be fair to allowing God to be God. Would we forced another person to conform to our expectations and ot be who they are?

  55. Personally, as wonderful as this data is with regard to the impact that female clergy have on young girls, I don’t think it would have any impact on the L.D.S patriarchy, If the brethren cared about the young girls, they would have made sure that the young women’s programs were comparable to the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Explorer, Venture, and Duty to God programs.

  56. I of II

    70 comments later I suppose I can make an original post without being reprimanded for mucking things up.

    “The comments from the all-male peanut gallery reminded me yet again why it’s generally pointless to read comments.”

    These additional editorial comments remind us again why it’s generally pointless to read comments coming from an all-female peanut gallery of one.

    It might be easier to post an article, then post editor’s comments on what folks OUGHT to think about it (especially directed to that all-male peanut gallery), and then close the comments, saving the editorial aggravation of folks not “getting it” (Matthew 7:6), and simultaneously saving posters the aggravation of being criticized for failure to “get it”.

    “The conversation then devolved into a predictable and hackneyed argument about women’s ordination that did not engage the new research but instead rehearsed the same fights Christians have been having for more than a century.”

    For the most part Christians have NOT been having fights over the ordination of women, ever. Ordination of women has occurred only in small sects and cults.

    Two groups of Christians, the bulk of Christians, have had zero fights: those who consider ordination a divinely instituted sacrament: Orthodox, Assyrians, Oriental Orthodox, Catholics; and those who hold to the Bible. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints arguably straddles both.

    Political science – with or without the new research – does not speak to either of these groups, as the comments (which are NOT my fault) this time again illustrated. If ordaining women is contrary to God’s will, the conversation on “It’s good for girls to have clergywomen” grinds to an immediate halt. And the comments reflect this.

    In addition the research supports the conclusion that only younger women see a gender gap, perceive a correlation between characteristics of the ministers and success, which could be an artifact of their environment where gender and power has become their shibboleth. So this research does not speak to men or older women at all.

    Well, let’s forget those fuddy-duddies and get back to the article and the new research in II of II.

  57. II of II

    “To us, this strongly suggests that the rarity of female clergy in America’s places of worship is at least partially to blame for the contemporary gender gap in American society.”

    Assuming a gap exists, and if the absence of female clergy in places of worship is to blame (at least partially), and most Christians are never going to ordain women, does this mean women who don’t want to suffer a “gender gap” need to leave their churches?

    In Christianity revealed religion is considered to inform Christians, and informed Christians then ought to devise systems of governance, political activities, political thought, and political behavior which aim for a distribution of power and resources consistent with the revelation. Christians are advised not to seek Mammon but rather to seek God.

    If we invert that for purposes of discussion and let political science – and perhaps psychology and marketing which appear to be more relevant in implementation – inform Christianity, success becomes the goal and self-worth and empowerment the means. Let’s go get some Mammon!

    Perhaps evidence that the presence of prominent female religious congregational leaders in the lives of girls and young women affects their self-worth and empowerment later in life applies to other homogenous groups. Is this a marketing opportunity?

    Religion becomes a tool of empowerment rather than enlightenment – improve your odds by altering your ministry. Worship for success.

    Should lesbians have lesbian clergy, and homosexuals homosexual clergy?

    Wouldn’t white folks benefit from going to white churches and black folks be empowered by black churches?

    What happens if – and the editor (and LeRoy DeManche) made it clear that the nearly perfect correlation with ordaining women and a reduction in membership thereafter does not imply causality and is off limits in any case – the existing members don’t care for this approach? Can we expect a payoff a generation from now? Does the present value of that payoff exceed the current costs?

    Can we offset any losses with marketing?

    And how about deities?

    Should we consider different deities for different sexes and orientations?

    Perhaps the Greeks and Romans got it right and we need a pantheon, something in the way of a range of genders, ages, and characteristics so everyone can enjoy self-worth and empowerment later in life?

    Since we’re evaluating religion based on political science (or going forward on psychology, which would seem a better tool), to which theology is irrelevant, the sky would appear to be the limit as long as the money holds out.

    For example, we might use our choice of ministers as a tool to increase representation in the political system by targeting the groups mentioned for increased confidence and political ambition so that they run for office:

    And the Bible is simply rife with poor role models. A lectionary of readings from Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan et al could be devised, or of Malcolm X and Kwame Ture.

    Next: church architecture, interior and exterior:

    It’s an opportunity to think outside the box.

    What would Buffy do?

  58. Well, Bobose gets credit for an amazingly odd name!

  59. In our book we tend to steer clear of theology and theological justifications for/against women’s ordination. Instead we approach the topic from a sociological perspective. That said, we’ll look her up – that sounds interesting!

  60. We did not look at this specific question, but I will make a point to do so. Thank you for the recommendation!

  61. I think that she is retired now, but she wrote a number of books. She may be a generation or so ahead of you!

  62. I’ve no problem with your first paragraph except for your stating “but by no means the chiseled-in-stone Gospel truth of the matter.” I hope you’re using this phrase as a figure of speech since the canonical gospels are silent about the founding of Christian churches.

    Re: your second paragraph, you contradict the fact that there is no evidence the Apostles led local churches/assemblies, much less *ordained* anyone to lead such communities. I’m unaware of “the histories of the journeys of the Apostles,” that is, all or even most of them. As to local tradition re: the “founding and organization” of ancient churches, it is just that, tradition. The latter proves nothing. Maybe Thomas, for example, brought Christianity to India; maybe he didn’t. We do know that Portuguese missionaries discovered already established Christian churches in India, but, beyond that fact, historical certainty eludes us.

    As to your third paragraph, it assumes an established meaning of “Apostolic authority”, a matter I questioned in my initial comment. Your reply assumes an answer that is by no means historically established.

  63. In reply to “R.A. Bob”, I am not an “ex-Catholic”. I remain Catholic, merely (for now) unaffiliated. I am straight, divorced, a father, and support same-sex marriage as do most Western Catholics. I also support ordination of women to the RC presbyterate (the correct term, by the way, if history is of any importance) and episcopate. I’ve no problem with contraception (NCROnline has a series of informative articles on the subject). I have a graduate degree in a non-theological field and am a retired federal employee. I served four years active duty during the Vietnam Era. I also served as a federal poll observer in the 1970s and ’80s under authority of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I’ve studied the history of ordained ministry in the Catholic (purported) communion of churches (I write “purported” because today’s bishops serve as Vatican lackeys, unlike the earliest bishops who upheld their autonomy against attempts at papal encroachment). I distinguish history from doctrine, fact from fiction (the latter being self-serving and self-propagating). In my past exchanges with “R.A. Bob”, I generally prevailed. For this reason, our fellow blogger “blocked” me. FYI.

  64. One of the best sermons I ever heard was by a Catholic sister at a Newman Center during Sunday noon liturgy. To date, Rome continues to give excuses, not reasons, to deny ministerial ordination to women to the presbyterate and episcopate.

    (I deny that RC ordained clergy have any kind of “priesthood” different from us laity. Every presbyter/bishop is a priest by virtue of his or her baptism. Most Catholic priests are not ordained presbyters and bishops. The RC “ordained/ministerial priesthood” is a doctrinal fiction if history be our guide. As Joseph Ratzinger wrote 50+ years ago, “[F]acts, as history teaches, carry more weight than pure [church] doctrine” [J. Ratzinger, THEOLOGICAL HIGHLIGHTS OF VATICAN II, Paulist Press/Deus Books, 1966, p. 16]).

  65. You don’t understand: Jesus taught the Israelites of old, per “sandinwindsor”.

  66. What “R.A. Bob” confuses is doctrine (self-serving at that!) with history. Jesus ordained nobody, and Christianity with its churches didn’t come about until after the Resurrection. No resurrection = no churches, no reason for the Twelve (or Eleven) not to resume their previous labors. Even Paul reasoned as much (1 Cor 15:12-19).

  67. I was under the impression you and your assistant were political scientists, not sociologists.

  68. She was a doctoral student in 1977 when I ran into her at Notre Dame at seminar by the Theology Department.

  69. I certainly hope I made it clear that I read her loud and clear, and vice-versa.

  70. And you’re on the blocked list, too.

  71. Steering clear of theology and theological justifications leads to a number of serious problems, not the least of which is finding an actionable target audience.

  72. She was the first Protestant lay woman to take the PhD from ND in Liturgy. She was an Episcopalian. Her husband was an ordained Methodist minister. They had one son who may have preteens of his own now.

  73. Actually, not a troll. And LeRoy DeManche is my real name. I keep a very small digital footprint. And, I’ve been travelling for the last month and completely off the grid.
    The privacy settings in my Disqus account reflect that. It keeps me from being trolled by people.
    So, Mr. Arnzen, you are not as smart as you think.

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