sexism

The Glass Ceiling Ain't Broke Yet

By Rev. Mindi

A few weeks ago, we watched the graphic of the glass ceiling break as Hillary Clinton became the first female presidential nominee by a major political party. While presidential candidates in the past have had it mentioned that they were good parents, there was much lauding of Hillary’s motherhood, and behind-the-scenes talk about her sticking by her husband during their difficult times.

This past week, we have heard stories of Kerri Walsh Jennings being a terrific mother and how she has to balance motherhood and being an athlete. Headlines that congratulated the wife of a Chicago Bears lineman who won bronze in women’s trap shooting: her name is Corey Cogdell (the Chicago Tribune received a lot of feedback on that one). That glass ceiling is not broken, only cracked. Because women are barely getting through.

Less than one quarter of the churches in my region have a woman on the pastoral staff, and of that quarter, one third are part-time. And while more women are still entering seminary than men, more women are in search processes and more women are not considered by search committees. There are still churches, in 2016, in my denomination that refuse to look at the professional profile of a woman minister in their search processes.

So I would like to ask my male colleagues to consider the following:

--Would you enter a profession in which you were significantly less likely to be hired because of your gender?

--Would you accept a position at a church if the person before you was a woman and received more pay than you, even though you have the same level of experience (or even more?)

--Would you be comfortable in a denomination in which there were churches that would not consider you because you are male?

--Would you accept a position in which a major change in family status would require you to be gone for 6-12 weeks, but the church would not pay for your leave time?

 

Now, ask yourself these real questions that I have personally been asked by search committees in the past, and how would you feel about them being asked of you:

--“How will you balance your family time and church time?”

--“What will you do on Sunday if your child is sick?”

--“What will your spouse do if you are the pastor? Will they be involved in the church?”

--“How is your physical health?”

--“How will you be able to pastor the (opposite sex) in our church?”

--“Will you leave the church if you have a baby?”

No my friends, the glass ceiling has not been broken. It has been cracked, but we have a long way to go in breaking it.

 

*Note: this post reflects a binary way of thinking, and is definitely not encompassing of all ministers or all families, especially LGBTQ individuals and their families. I cannot imagine the list of questions my LGBTQ clergy friends have been asked that would never be asked of those of us who are cisgender and heterosexual. 

SCOTUS Decisions: Reflections, Part 1

By Rev. Mindi 

 Due to the SCOTUS decisions of Tuesday and pending Wednesday’s decisions, I thought I would forgo my usual Wednesday article and reflect on some of the court decisions made on Tuesday, with the idea that others may contribute reflections following the decisions announced on Wednesday morning. For a comprehensive list of the decisions made, go to http://www.supremecourt.gov/  These decisions impact us as Americans, but are often not mentioned on Sunday morning. As clergy and church leaders, I feel that it is imperative that we reflect within our faith communities on these issues and offer some way of responding, through word, action, and prayer.

Tuesday’s decision on the Voting Rights Act http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-96_6k47.pdf was a split decision, with the court upholding the 1965 act in that voting procedures must be approved by the federal government (preclearance) in areas where racial discrimination in voting practices has taken place. However, the court struck down the part of the law that dictated which states and jurisdictions were affected by this, stating that the coverage formula needed to be readdressed to be up with the times.  The Supreme Court is sending this part of the act to Congress to decide.  Seeing how it’s been difficult to get Congress to act on anything, this is frustrating to those of us who know how prejudice is still used in discriminating at the voting booth.

As people of faith, what can we do? How can we respond? I think of the number of churches that have partnered together with other organizations for voter registration drives and work to make sure those in our communities are registered to vote. Secondly, we also need to listen to those who have experienced prejudice at the polls, for those whose registrations were considered to be illegitimate, for practices that deterred others from voting. We need to make sure that we speak out for fair voting procedures in our own communities and be involved in voting rights for all citizens. And we need to speak up and take action against unfair voting practices.

Another decision on Tuesday was about adoption http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-399_8mj8.pdf This was a hard case. This story gained nationwide attention in the news, and so it’s easy to take sides and feel sympathetic with all parties involved. But what we need to keep in mind is the history of white governing officials making decisions for American Indian children, and the continued intervening and taking children away from their family and culture of origin. It’s important for us as people of faith to be mindful of our history, to be aware of how Euro-American culture is still perpetuated as American culture and that Euro-Americans still push values associated with that culture on to others.

Finally, I want to end with some reflections on a situation not in the Supreme Court but in Texas. Senator Wendy Davis, as I write this, is standing for thirteen hours without a chair or ability to lean on anything to filibuster a law that would basically prevent abortion clinics from operating in Texas http://news.yahoo.com/texas-senator-filibusters-against-abortion-bill-164526586.html  (side note: my husband pointed out that these rules by the Texas Senate make it so that anyone who has a disability in which they cannot stand is inherently discriminated against from being able to do their job, but I digress… somewhat).

This ban on abortion clinics and restrictions on clinics and doctors ignores Roe V. Wade, ignores the laws that protect a woman’s right to choose and places women’s health and responsibility to make choices about her health.  I have written in the past about the need for both sides on the issue of abortion to come together and find some common ground in reducing abortions, but laws like these will not reduce abortions. Many women will be forced to go out of state, possibly into Mexico where the health regulations for such clinics are not at the same standards in the United States, and many more will probably receive unsafe, illegal abortions. Besides abortion, many of these clinics provide health screenings, birth control, counseling and other vital services to low-income women, and they will be shut down because of one procedure they perform that is controversial. Also, all abortions would be banned after 20 weeks. Seeing how the 20 week mark is the screening ultrasound date that is covered under most insurance policies and not before that, many women and doctors do not know that there is any health risk to fetus or mother until that point, and under Texas law if it passes, it would be too late.

As people of faith, we may differ on the issue of abortion, but we need to stand up for women’s health in the case of extreme measures. The Texas law will go too far, will ignore the Constitution and will trample on women’s health.  I’ve shared in previous articles about the need for conversations on health, birth control, and sex in general in the church to reduce abortions and raise the level of women and men’s health.  As leaders, we cannot be afraid of speaking out on these issues, when people's very lives and health are at risk.

*****

As people of faith, we watch and wait in earnest for Wednesday’s decisions on DOMA and Prop 8. We pray for justice to be done, for freedom to be upheld, and most of all, for love to prevail. Check back for reflections here after the decisions are released.

We Need Each Other: Acting for Justice in a Fragmented World

By Erin Miller Cash

If you search the NIV for the word “justice,” you’ll find 134 references.

Some of them are helpful, and some are not.  Some say things like “the tribe of Dan will provide justice.”

I read each one of those 134 verses.  A few resonate with me more than others.

Micah 6:8

[God] has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.

Deuteronomy 16:20

Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the LORD your God is giving you.

Psalm 103:6 

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

Psalm 106:3 

Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right.

Amos 5:24 

But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!

Matthew 12:18 

"Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.

From the earliest texts of our tradition to Jesus himself, we find God at work pursuing justice for the oppressed.  Often justice and love or justice and righteousness go hand-in-hand in the Biblical texts.

We are called to be a people of justice.

We are to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, who ate with the outcast, touched the unclean, stood up to the Religious Leadership.  Jesus was killed because he wanted radical inclusion of everyone in the kingdom of God.  Everyone.

The filthy.

The sinner.

The broken.

The abused.

The powerless.

The betrayer.

Our Denomination strives to be “a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.”  We believe valiantly in our causes: for some that is an issue of homosexuality (sin or nature), for some it is an issue of immigration reform (needed or not), for some it is pastoral education (required or optional), for others it is worship style (contemporary or traditional).  We are a people who are passionate about many things.

One of the things I love about being a Disciple is the fact that we hope to live into the words “in essentials unity; in non-essentials liberty; in all things charity.”  The quote can be traced back as early as Augustine; the church has been trying to do this for centuries.

As Disciples, we tend to let one another speak about our particular passions, but we rarely come together to work.  Someone may believe that LGBT persons need to have full inclusion in the ministries of the church, but she doesn’t see that this matter of justice is similar to the matter of justice surrounding immigration.  In both cases a minority population is being subjected to the will of the ruling majority population (even if that population’s opinion on the matter is divided).  Justice is justice.  And justice is righteousness.

Can we be the model?

Can we be the generation that begins to show our unity to the world?

Can we be a movement for wholeness?

If we would stop bickering with one another over which issue is most important and start acting in love, we might be able to accomplish some incredible things for the neglected in our midst.  What if we agreed that justice is justice and we worked together to enact change on several fronts?  What if we embraced one another in charity where we disagree on a non-essential?  What if we were able to come together around the table instead of storming out of the room?

A pastor I respect very much once said to me, “I fear for who is next.”  As a government and as a religion (I’m speaking here generally about the church as a whole, not as individual denominations or local congregations.), we have notoriously excluded someone from power.

African-Americans.

Native Americans.

Asians.

Women.

Criminals.

Irish.

Hispanics.

Catholics.

Protestants.

LGBT persons.

Immigrants.

The Handicapped.

Children.

The list can go on if we want to dig deeper into our history.  The more we look, the more we find the truth: someone has always been an outsider in our nation and in our religion.  We don’t like to admit that, but it’s the truth.  We largely define ourselves by who we are not.

The Scriptures I cited above don’t say to enact justice for those who deserve it.  The scriptures say to act in kindness, love, righteousness, and justice.  It doesn’t say to condone every behavior, despite your personal convictions.  It says to work for justice.  It says to love kindness.

Someday I may find out that I was wrong.  I may come to find that the justice we chose to pursue was a tragic mistake.  I may put people in situations where the tradition we’ve known is compromised.  I don’t think that will happen, but I could be wrong.

I’m ok with being wrong.

I’m not ok with being unfair.

I would rather work to make sure every person who wants to work alongside me is able to live into their calling than to exclude someone for my personal beliefs.  I would rather embrace “the sinner” in love than insulate myself from her.  I will always choose kindness.  I will always choose love.

I cannot control the actions of another person.

Keeping someone out of the fellowship will not change their behaviors.

It will only change me.

It will harden me and my community of faith to the outsider.

It will allow prejudices to form.

It will make space for judgment in our midst.

I don’t want to be that kind of minister.

I don’t want my denomination to be that kind of place.

I want us to come together.

I want us to work together.

I want us to love together.

I believe we have the power to make transformative change in our churches, our government, and our lives.  I believe that as we champion our respective causes we can support one another.  I believe that if you are passionate about welcoming immigrants and I am passionate about LGBT rights, we need one another.  I believe justice is justice and love is love.

I will choose to love those who believe I am wrong.

I will choose to love those who refuse to engage me in conversation.

I will choose to love those who others will not.

I will choose love.

Always love.

Will you?

Will you join me in working for justice for all people?

Will you come alongside me to proclaim that all anyone really wants is to feel accepted and valued for who they are?

Will you allow yourself to make space for everyone?

Will you find your voice in the midst of a group?

Will you help someone else find theirs?

The kingdom is a place where God leaves no one out.

I need your perspective, and you need mine.

We need one another if we’re going to make changes.

We need to put aside our judgments and welcome one another.

How will we ever welcome the outsider if we can’t embrace each other?

Let’s talk.