Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Anti-Woman Church

by Jamie Michaels

From Love Your Neighbor News: The Official Publication of the Common Witness Coalition.

I have always longed to be a mother; it is the thing I haveknown longest about myself. As a 16-year old, I was alone in my peer group inmy desire to bear children. Now, 10 years later, I can hardly bear to wait anylonger to start my own family. And I have every intention of raising mychildren in the United Methodist church, a church I expect to love all childrenunconditionally, even when the world wishes to do them harm. I expect thechurch to be a place of respite, of protection and care for them.

While women have made great strides, our world today isstill a dangerous place to be for women. Women and children are disproportionatelyrepresented among new cases of HIV/AIDS. A lack of gender parity in pay acrossthe globe leaves women to make difficult choices in feeding and caring fortheir families. And here in the United States, recent legislation about women’sreproductive rights, public debate about which has been dominated by malevoices, has threatened the health and safety of women. There is a War on Women,and the church should be standing on the side of women’s health.

However, this General Conference’s attitude and actionstoward women over the last several days calls into question our commitment tothe health and wellbeing of women. On day 5 of General Conference, we had yetto see a woman bishop presiding on the plenary floor [day six, we did have one]. In the committee onSuperintendency, language referring to bishops has been overwhelmingly male.And yesterday morning in subcommittee, Church and Society B voted to remove theUMC from a moderate, well-respected, ecumenical and interreligious group: theReligious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). The RCRC, founded in theUnited Methodist building on Capitol Hill in 1973 after the watershed SupremeCourt case Roe V. Wade, has always existed to advocate for women’s rights tomake choices that are good for their bodies, good for their lives, and mostimportantly, choices that are safe. The removal of the UMC from this coalition representsnothing short of an attack on women’s health.

I have long since resigned myself to remain in this (often)anti-gay church. I don’t know if I can remain in a church that is anti-woman. Icertainly do not feel comfortable raising children in a church that may notadvocate for their health and wellbeing. Whether we will continue down thispath in the plenary remains to be seen. Will we unite as God’s church to liveup to Jesus’ call to stand for the most vulnerable in our world? Will we liftup in our policies what we often give lip service to in our words andliturgies: that we value the life, health, and contributions of women equallyto men? Or will the church join the global War on Women, alienating me, myfamily, and women everywhere? Will the church become anti-woman?


Jamie Michaels is a third-year seminary student at Pacific School of Religion, a candidate for ordination, a self-proclaimed Methodist super-nerd, and a passionate justice-seeker.

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