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A Holy Alliance

Faith and feminism.

I came away from our conversation intrigued by the idea that a formal, age-old religion could serve as a call and a tool for social justice. I’d always associated my Catholic upbringing with conservative politics: not only is the Roman Catholic Church more male-dominated than most other forms of Christianity, but its ideas about sex are, shall we say, impractical—the church considers abortion, birth control, masturbation, and any sex act that does not occur within a heterosexual marriage to be sins; and, given all that, being gay is obviously also not OK. So when I met Suzanne Turner, who introduced herself as a pro-choice Catholic who works on social-justice and economic-equality issues, I was intrigued.

Suzanne’s extended family are Southern Baptists, but her parents were never particularly religious. She attended a Unitarian church with them as a kid, and started exploring different religions as a teenager. She visited a Catholic church with a friend and was fascinated by accountability process of confession, the status accorded to the Virgin Mary, and the church’s “level of splendor and awe” that, she says, “seems appropriate for the contemplation of the unknowable.”

She converted to Catholicism in her early 30s, and the religion’s emphasis on helping the poor, afflicted, and oppressed led her to a life of grassroots activism. “During the 1990s I worked directly with priests and nuns on issues from human rights to death-penalty abolition to alleviating poverty,” she says. “These were people who thought as I did…and who had devoted their lives to creating loving change in the world.… They were walking the walk and devoting themselves, body and soul, to it.

“I read the Bible cover to cover as a child many times, and was blown away by Christ’s revolutionary teachings,” she says. “If we could live as he taught, we could have heaven on earth. I didn’t find the infrastructure for living in this manner until I found the social justice Catholics and the grassroots church.”

Because of her pro-choice position, Suzanne is not considered a proper Catholic by many members of the church. (Simply by supporting women’s right to choose, many Catholics believe, you have committed a sin tantamount to murder, and therefore are considered excommunicated until you formally repent before a church authority.) This doesn’t seem to bother her.

“The church frankly can say whatever it wants to say, but I don’t have to do what Rome tells me to do,” she says. “My faith is not to Rome, my faith is to my own relationship with God…. My faith is just who I am, and being a feminist is just who I am, and I don’t force myself to put [those things] on a false path against each other.

“I don’t think God calls us to do that either,” she says. “I think God calls us to be, and to act from the true places of who we are.”

Unlike Emily and Suzanne, Nahida Nisa isn’t a convert—she was raised in the United States as a Muslim, and held fast to her faith as she came to define herself as a feminist.

That wasn’t always easy for her. “Since I was very young,” she says, “I didn’t feel like the way we were being taught about Islam was making us closer to God.” Some of the male imams at her mosque espoused sexist views that she felt in her gut were not the true message of Islam, which she describes as “potentially very liberating.”

A teacher at her secular grade school reinforced her feminist ideals, calling out fellow students who made sexist or homophobic comments in class. Nahida would run home and repeat the teacher’s messages to her mother, who reacted mostly with bemusement. But the friction was growing between Nahida’s faith and her feminism. “I didn’t feel comfortable in my own religious community,” she says.

Then 9/11 happened and changed everything, including Nahida’s relationship with her religion. Where she had been vocally critical of the sexism she heard coming from fellow Muslims, now she felt protective of a religion she felt was being misunderstood by her fellow American feminists, some of whom condemned all of Islam as harmful to women. “I saw a society—my own—that wasn’t completely devoid of sexism using women’s liberation as an excuse to invade another sexist society,” she says. “That kind of stereotyping only perpetuates an oppressive system of violence. And no one believes that non-Muslims are suddenly, after the attacks, genuinely super concerned about Muslim women now.”

Today, Nahida’s politics and faith are comfortably intertwined. “I’m actually very religiously driven when it comes to my political views,” she says. “My positions on several issues are well connected to my religious views. I suspect that might surprise a lot of people.”

Nahida has studied the Qur’an for years, and in her reading, the text expects men to exhibit traditionally “feminine” traits like gentleness and modesty, and encourages freedom from oppression (“even if you don’t agree with those who are being freed,” she says). She interprets the condemnation of Sodom through a pro-queer, feminist lens as well: “My interpretation is that it was because they were rapists, not because the people they raped where of the same sex.” The book’s message, to her, is that “even when you don’t agree with someone’s decisions, you have no right to suppress the free will that was given to them by God.” Therefore, she says, Muslim law is inherently pro-choice, and inherently against imposing one’s religious beliefs on other people.

“My best favorite thing ever in the world,” she says, “is sources within the religious framework that actually have promoted feminism, if not by name, since the beginning of time. Every religion has them! Use them! They are very restorative, and very useful in returning to women the power that was given to us by God.” ♦

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46 Comments

  • dandelions December 13th, 2012 12:13 AM

    “…returning to women the power that was given to us by God”

    THIS is so beatiful.

  • marineo December 13th, 2012 12:19 AM

    Because of her pro-choice position, Suzanne is not considered a proper Catholic by many members of the church. (Simply by supporting women’s right to choose, many Catholics believe, you have committed a sin tantamount to murder, and therefore are considered excommunicated until you formally repent before a church authority.) This doesn’t seem to bother her.

    “The church frankly can say whatever it wants to say, but I don’t have to do what Rome tells me to do,” she says. “My faith is not to Rome, my faith is to my own relationship with God…. My faith is just who I am, and being a feminist is just who I am, and I don’t force myself to put [those things] on a false path against each other.

    ^^^ This this this!

    I was asked by my youth leader (who I love dearly) to attend a “pro-life rally” last year and frankly I was kind of appalled. She asked everyone, I know, but I could feel the disappointment emanating off of her when I refused. It was weird, because my mom had taught me basically that what I thought about god was my business and I didn’t have to agree with the church on everything, but many other people don’t feel that way.

    During confirmation I got accused of being a “cafeteria Catholic” ie I pick and choose what I want to believe, and I think that is fine.

    I feel that Religion is something that you hold within yourself, and it is something that is allowed to change.

    • Nikilodeon December 13th, 2012 5:00 AM

      I’m a cafeteria catholic too! As a kid I grew up going to a rather strict catholic school, but I moved to a secular school in middle school and continue to go to a secular school now that I am in high school. I used to worry that being in an environment where people don’t always agree with what I believe in would just make me drop my faith completely. But instead, being in a different environment has opened my mind and helped me to understand myself and my faith better. Your story was pretty inspiring, because you remained true to yourself, didn’t go to the pro-life rally, but made an effort to understand your youth group leader. It’s really nice to see that there are people out there who practice their beliefs in the truest sense – their moral beliefs as well as their religious beliefs, even if the two don’t always coincide. Marineo, I really applaud you for that. I think it’s really admirable. I’d like to hope I’m kinda getting there too! :)

    • Chloe December 29th, 2012 9:05 PM

      I’m the exact same way! My parents don’t force religion on me, but I always feel guilty about picking and choosing certain things. And even though I know I’m not the only one but being conveniently religious on easter and christmas feels so fake, like I’m cheating or something. But when I read the quote “my faith is to my own relationship with God” I felt so relieved! I admire your pride in your beliefs and dis-beliefs.
      Thanks you so much for writing this Sady, absolutely beautiful!

  • pinky December 13th, 2012 1:07 AM

    This is possibly one of my favorite things. Thank you Sady! I have no words to express how beautiful this was to me. Feminism and my belief in the Christian faith are both things I hold dear to me, its nice to hear about other rad feminists also being devoted to their religion! Also fun fact: I attend a four square pentecostal church. The four square church was started by a super rad lady that my pastor says rode her motor bike into the sanctuary of the church she originally started! I don’t know if she actually did, but I like to belive that she did <3

  • erinaudrey December 13th, 2012 1:23 AM

    I love the bit about Emily’s falling in love with Judaism, it’s something I definitely can relate to. For me personally, I’m being raised in a very conservative southern baptist home. But the more I learn about the world, the more I fall out of love with the religion surrounding me. I would identify myself as a feminist, I support gay rights, I think tolerance is possibly one of the most important we as humans can be to other humans- this clashes with what I’ve been raised on. I don’t really know what I believe yet but I do know the more I learn about the world, the less contented I am with the faith I thought I was so strong in.

  • kirsten December 13th, 2012 2:03 AM

    yes yes yes!
    do any other feminist christians struggle with the apostle paul’s writings? paul is a cool dude, but i’m sorry, i’m going to speak in church.

    • lisida December 13th, 2012 9:16 AM

      kirsten, i registered just to tell you to look into the life and writings of sor juana inés de la cruz, a totally badass 17th-century mexican nun and intellectual. her poetry is the best, and she has some pretty sassy things so say about paul. rookie, if you’re still looking for topics this month–sor juana!!

      • lisida December 13th, 2012 9:17 AM

        *to say. pre-coffee commenting. sigh.

      • periwinkle_dreams December 13th, 2012 12:25 PM

        thanks for commenting, I definitely want to go look her up now! I really don’t love that “women shouldn’t speak in church” thing. I’ve heard people say that since Paul was writing a letter to a specific church about their issues, maybe that congregation had some kind of problem with a specific group of unhelpfully disruptive women, but I’d still love as much insight as possible into what Paul meant or other ways we can interpret that verse.

        • lisida December 13th, 2012 11:21 PM

          sor juana, at least, interpreted the passage in a very limited way, arguing that paul meant women couldn’t preach in church–since they can’t be priests or similar. but she thinks it definitely doesn’t apply to private study or even published writings for two reasons–first, there are passages from other books that tell women to learn in silence (meaning they should just be focused while they study), and passages that tell all the israelites (men and women) to be silent while learning, so it’s not an issue of gender. second, she points to the examples of learned women writers who were sanctioned by the church through sainthood, which wouldn’t have happened if women weren’t supposed to be learning things and having opinions and sharing them. basically, she argues that people have read way too much into that one line to the exclusion of a lot of other important things.

          there are a lot of other women writers who tackled this question–if you look for stuff on the ‘querelle des femmes,’ you should find some other interpretations, too!

      • all-art-is-quite-useless December 13th, 2012 1:10 PM

        I’d never heard of Sor Juana before I read your comment, but I googled her and she is awesome. Thanks for introducing her to me!

    • wallflower152 December 13th, 2012 11:15 AM

      I do! He has many good things to say but his views on homosexuals and women do not sit well with me. When I read it I think, first of all, that Paul is NOT Jesus. I have read the New Testament all the way through at least four times but you may still want to fact check me on this…but I’m pretty sure Jesus did not say anything against homosexuals or women. When I read Paul’s letters I have to imagine the context in which it was written, 2000 years ago in a patriarchal society. Although it says something along the lines of “wives, submit to your husbands” it also says for husbands to treat their wives with respect and for children to honor their elders. I think he was trying to give families at the time guidelines to live by. If it had been written today, I’d like to imagine that part of Paul’s letters saying something along the lines of “husbands and wives, treat one another with mutual respect.” : )

      • soretudaaa December 13th, 2012 1:20 PM

        this, so much.

        I think most people forget that the New Testament was written many, MANY years ago so there is not much point of comparison. Still, I think Jesus and his apostles’ predications were far ahead of their time when it comes to teachings like “love others as much as you love yourself” or “blessed are the poor of heart”.

      • farawayfaerie December 15th, 2012 3:25 PM

        I find this so interesting, because the words of men in the bible (in this case Paul) from so long ago are often taken way too seriously for their context, and it’s often used against christianity. While I’m not religious, it’s fascinating that people will quickly forgive authors and directors from 60 years ago who portray women as weak characters who can’t do anything for themselves – because that’s the way society was at the time, yet will hold on so tightly to a few peoples morals from centuries ago. Then again, the Bible has a much larger influence on people than any movie, and most often the words of Paul are used negatively.

        I’m not sure if that was sufficiently coherent…

    • thebrownette December 13th, 2012 5:39 PM

      yes *SIGH* i think what make it hard for me to “take all the bible as truth” is that it’s difficult to decide whether to believe everything in the bible at face value or to believe some of it is symbolic. i mean, i’m not homophobic,and i’m pro-life. i’m a christian, a lutheran specifically, and my “official” church doesn’t “promote” abortion, but i LOVE the fact that the Lutheran church welcomes anyone anyway. okay, The ELCA Lutheran Church does, not all lutheran churches.

  • AdaMae December 13th, 2012 2:07 AM

    This was a wonderful article. Thank you so much for this.

    Having been raised a Catholic, I have long struggled with how I can possibly reconcile the Catholic faith with my feminism. Though it does not make sense to many, my feminism comes before and informs my faith, and I would rather give up the church than my feminism. (I also do not believe that belief in Jesus is the only way to God, some would argue that this disqualifies me all together but that is another story).

    I have often felt that I shouldn’t have to choose between the two, but I feel like many members of the church are hostile towards any sort open dialogue regarding these issues. When I went to confession in order to talk to a priest about how my political and personal beliefs were seemingly irreconcilable with the church doctrine, he said, “then why are you even here?” and told me he had nothing to say to me. My mother also told me that when she confessed to a priest about terminating a pregnancy he told her she was going to hell and there was nothing she could do about it. I know in my heart that this is not true, and the fact that this man said that to my mother makes me absolutely furious.

    My mother continues to be a devout Catholic who attends weekly mass, prays the rosary every night, and goes to confession regularly. I have been unable to step back into a church. I feel like it is okay for us as individuals to have conflicted, messy feelings about our relationships with the ruling institutions of our individual faiths. I hope one day I will be able to come to terms with my own conflicted feelings.

  • Nikilodeon December 13th, 2012 5:05 AM

    This article really reminds me of a close family friend, Father Dave, who is really like a grandfather to me. He has been a catholic priest for over forty years and has been running a program for queer Catholics. I think it’s called Same Sex Orientation Catholics, if I am not mistaken. Father Dave is a devout Catholic, and he also believes that God loves everyone, and that being gay is not a sin at all – which I totally agree with. I think their organization sticks to the belief that you really can’t control who you love, and if you are gay and love someone of the same sex, but also have a strong religious faith and a love for God, you shouldn’t have to choose between the two. I think it’s a beautiful thing and reading this wonderful article reminded me of Father Dave. Thank you for writing this!

  • karastarr32 December 13th, 2012 5:34 AM

    Ummm…. WOW. I can completely relate to this. I, myself, am an Anglo-Catholic (Anglican-Catholic), while my mum is Roman Catholic, and my dad Protestant. We all have certain issues with both churches, but, “My faith is not to Rome, my faith is to my own relationship with God…. My faith is just who I am, and being a feminist is just who I am, and I don’t force myself to put [those things] on a false path against each other.” That may be going on my wall now. It is completely, utterly, true. Being whatever religion you are is, in the end, about your relationship with your God(s). Just….. I’m not even sure what I’ve written makes sense, but I love this.

  • witheringslytherin December 13th, 2012 5:52 AM

    This was really interesting and kind of speaks out to me as recently I have found it really hard to connect Christianity (not Catholicism, I wouldn’t really know how to describe “my kind” – maybe more Protestant?) with my ever changing beliefs. I also am a feminist, and pro-choice, and I really don’t think gay marriage is wrong but sometimes it’s hard around other Christians who don’t condemn, but have such a strong stance (not usually on gay marriage/equality so much) on these things or just are not really bothered about feminism – it’s kind of disheartening.
    However the last few years (pretty much as I have become a Christian) I have come to find that a lot of my Christian friends really are open minded people. I’ve felt really inspired by the Soul Survivor organisation as they don’t condemn anyone for these things, just try to help and understand them. I just don’t want to feel like I have to change those important beliefs to fit in with Christianity and have to give up on them, but it’s really hard when nobody else really cares or gets how equally important believing in equality is.

  • Jeanne December 13th, 2012 6:44 AM

    I am a feminist atheist. Before reading this, I kind of thought that religion was very men-based. Why is God a male? and Allah? and Budda? Why Isn’t there a female god or something like that? Why are priests only men?
    But I think it’s not the religion that is sexist, it’s the way the religion is used.
    The Bible itself is really great even for an atheist like me. Respect (for women), helping people etc. are some of the most important things in this society.
    But sometimes I really don’t agree with what the church says. Like homophobia and sexism. The Bible doesn’t tells you to be that!
    So to my opinion religion isn’t used correctly. Because so, so many people believe in the Bible or the Koran or whatever, it’s easier to influence people by religion and tell them you shouldn’t have sex before you’re married, wear the veil, etc..
    I think this post is wonderfull and especially this theme, becase faith is something really hard to talk about with people. It’s such a risky subject. And I think it’s great that Rookie talks about it, because we’re all kind stuck with questions, like: “Can I really like someone that doesn’t believe or believes in something else than me? Even if we have such differrent opinions?”. And I think it’s becoming clear to me…

    http://www.teenbadger.blogspot.com

    • Serena.K December 14th, 2012 9:21 AM

      God = Allah. “Allah” is just the Arabic term for God, just as “hola” is the Spanish term for “hello” or something. I think it’s important to clarify this because it shows how very similar the Abrahamic religions — and by extension, those who practice them — really are. Also, at least from a Muslim perspective, God isn’t male; He is beyond gender. Referring to God as a “He” simply puts Him in terms that we can understand, if you get what I’m saying. This post explains it much better than I can: http://partytilfajr.tumblr.com/post/37387222759/do-you-believe-allah-swt-is-male-in-one-of-your
      Sorry to bombard you with info you probably weren’t asking for but hey, the more you know, right?
      This was one of the best posts on Rookie, by the way.

      • Jeanne December 15th, 2012 12:41 PM

        Thank you, now I’m a little wiser :) But still, why is Allah called he and not she? All those little details must be changed. They make the difference. But I totally get your point.

    • reginageorge December 16th, 2012 2:38 PM

      There are several religions that aren’t male god based, such as some Pagan sects. There are also people from all across the religion spectrum who don’t believe that God has a particular gender, that it can be any gender or none and it’s more like a force. There’s so much more to religion that just Abrahamic paths and even within those there’s several different opinions. Food for thought.

      As to why God is referred to as “He”, which you mention a few posts later, I think I can offer some explanation. It depends on the society around it. A matriarchal society or one that is very dependent on fertility is more likely to have very important goddesses. A polytheistic pantheon often includes different ages and walks of life in a way that is similar to the functions in that society. And so forth, and so forth.

      There are also loads of languages that don’t have the same gender system as English. Some don’t have a neutral gender at all so saying “He” or “She” is the only option while others may have neutrals that are meant for inanimate objects. It’s possible that a deity’s gender didn’t matter in some cultures but as they had to choose they just went with male because men were the ones producing those texts.

  • jenaimarley December 13th, 2012 8:30 AM

    Wow, this is great! I definitely feel that there are so many open and empowering parts to each (formal) religion and it is sad that 1) so many religious people blindly follow the oppressive parts of them without realizing the underlying beauty and 2) that people automatically judge/dismiss religious people who are very intentional about their beliefs and use them for positive good.
    Also in the forward to the Vagina Monologues, Gloria Steinem discusses really really interesting things about formal religions (such as Catholism) and the way both the physical structure of their holy places (churches) and their metaphorical rituals (such as communion) actually mimic female body parts and birthing rituals, and that there is actually a lot of underlying fear (that perpetuates opressive beliefs, sadly) but ALSO awe towards the power of women.

  • technicolordreamsinblackandwhite December 13th, 2012 11:12 AM

    I remember going to church on and off for the first nine years of my life. Going to church was cool when I was in second grade; you rode a school bus (which were apparently very cool to me and my friends back then) , ate free lunch (seriously, it had the more options then Thanksgiving, and I’m not exaggerating at all), and could win free candy if you behaved (they would announce it in front of all the kids and adults, then let you choose from five options that were full-size, such as Strawberry Milkshake Whoppers, which my friend Sammie got once). In third grade, I started going to a new church with my friends my accident. We had walked up to the bus stop, but we figured we had missed the bus when it hadn’t come yet and we had been there for ten minutes. We stood around debating what to do, and I told them that we should go to the place I heard music from. That’s what we did, and I loved that place. Everyone there rode motorcycles, we were the only kids, and one lady gave me a lesson book (you were supposed to read one story everyday that would teach you a lesson, but I read them all at once). I went to their summer bible school, and was super disappointed when I moved without getting to go to next year’s birthday party for Jesus (which I had skipped the year before to go to the Festival of Lights with my friend). Through all of that, though, I remember that I only went because it was fun. It was great to be a part of something, even if you didn’t believe in it. In fact, I still have the church leader’s number in my phone. I’ve never had the courage to call.

    • periwinkle_dreams December 13th, 2012 12:46 PM

      That sounds really fun :) I think it’s great when churches like that are just really cool and welcoming, and don’t make you feel super pressured to make some kind of statement of faith or something. I think you maybe should call the church leader sometime. I’m sure he or she would love to hear how much you enjoyed their programs as a kid.

  • wallflower152 December 13th, 2012 12:01 PM

    Really like this article. I am a Catholic and a feminist. I have been a Catholic all my life and I have questioned/struggled with/rejected many aspects of it. For example I don’t think we can just do whatever we want, then go to confession, say a bunch of Hail Mary’s and have a clean slate. If your conscience is telling you not to do something then don’t do it. And it goes without saying that I am pro-choice and pro-gay rights. But I guess I’m lucky cuz I’ve never heard my priest has never said anything sexist or homophobic. : ) Religion has always been used to push political agendas/create an easy to rule population and I think if more people realized that they would at least question their church’s teachings.

    Another thing that I’ve struggled with is science and faith, I believe in evolution and all other major scientific theories that conflict with religion. I do believe that God somehow set all of it in motion though. And the more I learn about nature and especially the universe, the more AWESOME I realize God is. I had an astronomy prof that said science, by definition, can only seek to explain the natural world. Any deity that we may believe in is super*natural–literally “above nature.” That means any scientist that seeks to disprove/prove a god’s existence is not using true science. This really helped me reconcile my religious beliefs with my scientific ones.

    In the end, for all Christ-centered religions, the important thing Christ and his teachings of love ALL fellow humans, hope, faith, repentance and forgiveness.

    • reginageorge December 16th, 2012 2:27 PM

      “Another thing that I’ve struggled with is science and faith, I believe in evolution and all other major scientific theories that conflict with religion.”

      The Catholic Church as far as I know doesn’t have a single official dogma-like position on the matter, but the closest it gets is that in minor statements they have agreed with what you’re saying; that evolution and everything else more scientific exists but God was the driving force behind it.

  • cottoncolumnist December 13th, 2012 1:09 PM

    correction:Koran is Quran:) Other then that its a totally inspirational post.

    • Anaheed December 13th, 2012 4:10 PM

      It’s an Arabic word — neither of those English spellings is the way it is actually spelled, but both are widely used.

  • periwinkle_dreams December 13th, 2012 1:11 PM

    I love this article SO much! When I became a Christian in middle school, it wasn’t because I wanted to sign myself up for a religion for religion’s sake – I can only describe it as falling in love with God. 8 years later, I have a strong relationship with God and love my faith.

    I first discovered my feminist inclinations in high school. I was talking to my friend Lauren about how whenever we got to choose our own essay topic in an English class I always ended up writing about women somehow. Freshman year I wrote about how The Odyssey has a lot of important heroines that are unappreciated because they’re female. Then, senior year, I wrote an 8 page paper with this thesis: “It is the patriarchal need to control female sexuality which belies inherent male weakness in the face of their desire.” I think that’s the essay I’m most proud of, of all the essays I’ve ever written :)
    Anyway, I was telling Lauren about how I’m drawn to topics about women, and she joked that I was going to become a total feminist in college. I didn’t know anything about feminism at the time and thought maybe I’d have to burn all my bras and start yelling at men that held doors open for me, so I laughed and said that would never happen.

    Yet here I am, tentatively calling myself a Christian feminist – much less tentatively than before I read this article. Before, I thought people would laugh at me and tell me that was stupid or impossible or ridiculous. Now, I’ve decided that I’LL decide what I’m allowed to be and think, thank you very much, and it seems to me that a Christian feminist is what I am.

  • indaslicht December 13th, 2012 3:08 PM

    “My best favorite thing ever in the world [...] the power that was given to us by God.”

    from this i can conclude that Nahida is totally clever (and cool) which makes me really want to have a conversation with her, as i am a muslim too!

  • simplebutchic December 13th, 2012 10:07 PM

    Wow this was a wonderful article that has actually got me thinking about my faith. My grandfather is a pastor so I’ve grown up with the church and have been able to see the good and bad that religion brings. I doubt my faith all the time, but always go back to it. My mother is a Christian feminist and I consider myself an agnostic feminist. I agree with this article that you can have faith and/or religion and still be a feminist.

    http://simplebutchic.blogspot.com/

  • youngfridays December 14th, 2012 1:25 AM

    THANK YOU.

  • littledidsheknow December 14th, 2012 2:30 AM

    Lately I have been struggling with how the church community can be so sexist. For instance, once my minister and his wife baptized someone together, and as a result several people left our church. This was very hurtful to me, and there are times when I am very angry women can’t preach or serve communion, and that no one in my congregation feels bothered by this. Reading this article really helped me deal with these emotions better then I have in the past. Thank you very much.

  • anisarose December 14th, 2012 7:43 AM

    I’m so glad to have grown up in a faith where a central figure (in this case, the prophet’s son and successor) says things like this over 100 years ago:
    “The world of humanity is possessed of two wings: the male and the female. So long as these two wings are not equivalent in strength, the bird will not fly. Until womankind reaches the same degree as man, until she enjoys the same arena of activity, extraordinary attainment for humanity will not be realized; humanity cannot wing its way to heights of real attainment. When the two wings . . . become equivalent in strength, enjoying the same prerogatives, the flight of man will be The world of humanity is possessed of two wings: the male and the female. So long as these two wings are not equivalent in strength, the bird will not fly. Until womankind reaches the same degree as man, until she enjoys the same arena of activity, extraordinary attainment for humanity will not be realized; humanity cannot wing its way to heights of real attainment. When the two wings . . . become equivalent in strength, enjoying the same prerogatives, the flight of man will be exceedingly lofty an extraordinary”
    - ‘Abdúl-Bahá

    I’m a feminist because I am a Baha’i!

  • Harriet December 14th, 2012 8:16 AM

    I haven’t actually read the article yet but AWESOME ILLUSTRATION.

  • nylaineza December 14th, 2012 11:31 AM

    Thank you for this post!! I can relate so much to Nahida and I wish I could talk to her someday. P.S. @Jeanne Allah isn’t a male! Allah has no gender. He or Him is just a term in reference to him by our limited vocabulary and understanding. Most of the time in English translations of the Quran it uses the word We or Us to replace Allah as its pronoun.

  • Erin. December 14th, 2012 12:23 PM

    A very interesting article. It’s great to hear of so many women who have found ways to merge both their religious and feminist beliefs together. These beliefs can be really tough to bring together, because there always seems to be so many extremists in all religions who distort things.

    I was raised Catholic, and had/have the same issues with it as Sady. I often thought: “why would I want to be part of a community where I’m not equal to everyone else simply because I’m female?” But, I had other issues besides that. I felt a lot of pressure to make myself a part of a community that I didn’t even like. (Currently I’d probably be called an unofficial Pagan. I’m interested in Wicca, but the thought of praising any type of goddess or god still leaves a bad feeling in my mouth).

    When it comes to beliefs, I think it’s most important that you do what feels right to you. If that means picking and choosing, or finding your own path, then that’s what you gotta do.

  • firky December 14th, 2012 6:35 PM

    “At a certain point you find yourself changing, actively becoming what you are drawn to. That’s a scary thing, because you don’t know entirely who you’ll be at the end of that”

    This is me! I’m in this budding-feminist-but-becoming-more-observant-Jewish space where the core values of each may not seemingly collide but need to. I’m terrified and tremendously excited to see where it takes me.

    http://haleyyael.tumblr.com

  • marcelle42 December 15th, 2012 5:01 PM

    I have really, really loved all of the articles on Faith that Rookie has been putting out, but I had to chime in here and say that The Mists of Avalon and Tori Amos pretty much sum up my high school spirituality of the late 90s. <3

  • Kenz December 15th, 2012 8:04 PM

    Reading this I feel so lucky to have grown up in such an accepting church community. In Canada we have the united church, which began ordaining women 50 years ago, and people who didn’t identify as heterosexual in the eighties. We always use inclusive language as well. Growing up, I have always had strong female role models in the church, which has always made me wonder why my friends choose to go to churches that treat them as second class.

  • joenjwang December 18th, 2012 2:32 AM

    Although I am Christian, and firmly so, I adore the work of Levinas and respect Judaism so so much. Just a side comment. . . :)

  • stellar December 18th, 2012 2:32 PM

    spirituality, intuition, balance…actual experience versus abstracted, generalized “theories”…that’s my faith

  • poppunkgurrrlx December 24th, 2012 10:53 PM

    i don’t mean any disrespect to other readers or the writer of this article, i just disagree with all of this. does anyone else? i don’t understand how you can identify yourself as a follower of such sexist/racist/homophobic organizations. i know rookie readers are NONE of those, so how can you support that at all? i realize you choose which parts you believe in/don’t believe in, but by following it you are representing it. please just help me understand.