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Spreading the word


2woman of faithFaith and feminism working together.

The Christian Feminist Network is a new organisation working to connect faith and feminism.

On its website, the Network says that ‘We exist to advance the understanding that Christian feminism is not an oxymoron, but that Christian patriarchy and misogyny is.’

Writing in the Guardian recently, one of the Network’s founding members, Hannah Mudge, said that a point that ‘is often missed is that religion itself is not inherently misogynist.

‘Anti-woman teachings and practices have often been the result of societal and cultural influences rather than Christian teaching itself.’

One of the most common critiques of women of faith is that by remaining involved with a religion, they are complicit in condoning inequality.

The Christian Feminist Network disagrees, saying that ‘As Christian feminists, we believe the Christian message teaches gender equality and that gender-based discrimination and oppression should be challenged wherever they are found.’

The Network’s role is not a niche one.

While statistics show that religious affiliation is continuing to decline, women who declare a faith outnumber those who do not.

It is the broadly disseminated assumption that faith and feminism cannot work together that feminists of faith are challenging.

The Network’s goals include liaising ‘with the secular feminist movement [to] raise awareness of our concerns; and to support existing feminist campaigns.’

Much of the international media coverage of faith and women has been commandeered by the debates over women bishops in the Church of England.

“There’s no point replicating the work of existing pro-women-bishops organisations that are already doing excellent work,” Mudge says, which leaves myriad other issues for the Christian Feminist Network to address.

Mudge says the Network will be an activist one, ‘engaging with churches and Christian organisations on gender issues, encouraging them to take action.’

The addition of this Network to the fight for equality occurs not a moment too soon.

At the time of writing, diplomats at the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women were reporting resistance by Russia, Iran and the Holy See, among other parties, to efforts to strengthen global standards for the prevention of violence against women and children because of reasons of ‘religion, custom or tradition’.

The UN conference runs until 15 March 2013.

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