Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Handmaidens of God

Seem to be getting somewhat fewer in the United States. Or at least church-going among women has declined:
Since 1991, the percentage of women attending church during a typical week has decreased by 11 percentage points to 44 percent, the Barna Group reported Monday (Aug. 1).

Sunday school and volunteering among women also has diminished. Two decades ago, half of all women read the Bible in a typical week -- other than at religious events. Now 40 percent do.

The survey also found a marked stepping away from congregations: a 17 percentage increase in the number of women who have become "unchurched."
Hmm. Color me very skeptical about that 1991 data concerning half of all women (even half of all Christian women) reading the Bible during a typical week.

Surveys about religious attendance are especially prone to overestimation bias, as demonstrated by a study in which the researchers asked about church-going and then actually checked churches during services.

The reported drop could be simply a reduction in that bias over time, or it could be a real drop.

I have strong opinions on the role of the male-centered religions in the subjugation of women. Very strong. They are one of the legs of the stool under which all women are expected to cower (the other legs being misogynistic pseudo-science and legal and cultural traditions of women's inferiority), and should come with a health warning.

On the other hand, many people need spirituality and the comfort of religions. Perhaps churches could change to lure women back, assuming the drop is real? Become more woman-friendly? Ask someone else to volunteer for Sunday school and those bake sales?