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How Different Churches View Women Clergy

During the summer of 2014, the Anglican Church announced it will begin to call women as bishops, while the American version of Anglicanism, the Episcopal Church, celebrated its 40th anniversary of ordaining women priests. However, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reaffirmed its opposition to women clergy by excommunicating Kate Kelly, an activist who advocates for women’s ordination. Similarly, in Islam there are few women imams, and those are almost exclusively working in the West. In Judaism, the Reform tradition ordains women as rabbis, while the Orthodox tradition does not. According to several surveys conducted between 1998 and 2010, between 10 and 12 percent of U.S. congregations have female clergy. Within Christianity, the rates may be as low as 9 percent in Evangelical congregations and as high as 24 percent in some Mainline Protestant traditions.

In 2014, ReligionLink, a service of Religion Newswriters Association, a member organization that promotes and supports quality religion news reporting, prepared a web page of resources on the expanding role of women in clergy and other church leadership positions. Prepared for religion news writers, the site is accessible to the general public and provides helpful context, background, links to recent surveys and studies, and related stories and reports. In addition, the page links to women clergy who publicly represent the diverse faces of women in religious leadership and scholarship roles, as well as organizations advocating both for and against women assuming key leadership positions in faith communities. You might also want to see the ReligionLink page on the difficulties Pentecostal women clergy face, and the resource page from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research — a source of cutting-edge studies and curated scholarly articles on religion in America — which links to additional resources on the status of women in religion. Also explore our “Best Resources on Congregations” article, which links to a range of projects and websites that have additional information about the status and role of women in religion and religion leadership roles.

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