Equal in Faith
"It's time we gather as an interfaith community to state, unequivocally, that equality for women shouldn’t stop at the doors of our churches, synagogues and mosques.”
While women serve as priests and in positions of religious and ritual authority in a growing number of churches, they still are denied ordination to the priesthood and equitable inclusion in far too many religious traditions. We refuse to tolerate discrimination against women in our secular institutions. Why, then, do we accept it in our religious institutions?
We have faith that religion can be interpreted to liberate rather than subjugate women. Like many, we ask, which will we choose? Through a series of interfaith initiatives, we want to ignite a conversation about maintaining what we value in our religious traditions while transforming them--and our communities--into more inclusive and equitable places.
Equal in Faith was founded in 2013 by an interfaith coalition of women to call attention to the need for gender justice in religion.
Equal in Faith organizers include representatives from Ordain Women (Mormon), the Women’s Ordination Conference (Roman Catholic), and Ordain Women Now (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod). We believe that religion can be interpreted to liberate rather than subjugate women. We want to ignite a conversation about maintaining what we value in our religious traditions while transforming them into more inclusive, equitable and welcoming communities.
On Tuesday, August 26, 2014, Equal in Faith invited women and men of all faiths to mark National Women’s Equality Day by joining them in a day-long social media campaign to highlight the need for gender justice in religion. Equal in Faith organizers, including representatives from Ordain Women (Mormon), the Women’s Ordination Conference (Roman Catholic), and Ordain Women Now (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod), encouraged individuals to post photos and/or messages on social media that include the hashtag #equalinfaith and express their hope for religious gender equality. Organizers will also launch the Equal in Faith website in preparation for an international, interfaith fast for religious gender equity on March 8, 2015, International Women’s Day.
In August 2013, Equal in Faith marked National Women’s Equality Day by bringing together women and men of many faiths for a nationwide fast for gender justice in religion. Hundreds met virtually and in prayer meetings in Washington, DC and Salt Lake City to call attention to the marginalization of women in our faith communities and the belief that all will benefit when women can pray, speak, teach, bless, lead and serve in their congregations as priests, pastors, chaplains, preachers, rabbis and imams.
“Our hope is that interfaith events like the August 26 social media campaign and the Equal in Faith fast in March will underscore our belief in the ability of religion to liberate rather than subjugate women. At a time when many are leaving organized religion, we want to ignite a conversation about maintaining what we value in our religious traditions while transforming them into more inclusive, equitable and welcoming communities,” explained Equal in Faith co-organizer Lorie Winder.
Washington, DC -Women of faith marked National Women’s Equality Day on Monday, August 26, 2013, by joining together in a nation-wide, interfaith fast for gender justice and the equality of women in their faith communities. The day-long fast culminated in an interfaith prayer service from 6:30-7:30 PM at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Washington, DC, a congregation noted for its long-standing support of civil and religious equality.
Featured representatives included
- Lorie Winder, representing Ordain Women, which advocates for the ordination of women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)
- Erin Saiz Hanna, executive director of the Women’s Ordination Conference, which works for the equality of women in the Roman Catholic tradition
- Rabbi Tamara Miller, representing Washington friends of the Women of the Wall, which advocates for the right of Jewish women to wear prayer shawls, pray, and read from the Torah collectively and out loud at the Western Wall (Kotel) in Jerusalem
- Carol Schmidt, president of Ordain Women Now, which works to promote an open discussion within the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod about the ordination of women
- Rabia Chaudry, President and Founder of the Safe Nation Collaborative
Those who could not attend the service were encouraged to fast and participate virtually through Equal in Faith’s Facebook event page.
“While women have access to spiritual authority in a growing number of religions, far too many women are still being denied equal participation and leadership in their faith traditions,” stated Erin Saiz Hanna. “As sisters in the struggle, we understand one another’s pain and longing for justice. This day of prayer and fasting will give us the opportunity to stand in solidarity with one another and to speak out against the patriarchal institutions that purposefully exclude our voices and wisdom.”
“Equality shouldn’t stop at the doors of our churches, synagogues or mosques,” asserted Lorie Winder. “We refuse to tolerate discrimination against women in our secular institutions. Why, then, do we accept it in our religious institutions? Since religion significantly impacts the broader culture, the marginalization of women in our faith communities affects all of us.”
In solidarity with the DC event, there was also an Equal in Faith regional prayer service in Salt Lake City on August 26, from 7:00-8:30 PM at the Salt Lake Buddhist Temple, 211 West 100 South.
Equal in Faith
Interfaith Organizing Committee
Erin Saiz Hanna, Executive Director, Women's Ordination Conference
Kate McElwee (Conmy), Associate Director, Women's Ordination Conference
Lorie Winder, Executive Board, Ordain Women
Carol Schmidt, Board of Directors, Ordain Women Now