Chestertown, MD, January 15, 2004 — The Rose O'Neill Tea & Talk Series and the Gender Studies Program at Washington College present “Women with a Mission: Gender, Religion, and the Politics of Women Clergy,” a lecture by Melissa Deckman, assistant professor of political science, Monday, January 26 at the O'Neill Literary House. The event is free and all are welcomed to enjoy tea, conviviality and discussion. Tea served at 4 p.m., talk begins at 4:30.
While it took many generations of struggle before women gained formal acceptance into the male-dominated ministry and rabbinate, the pulpit has recently become more hospitable to women, asserts Deckman, and as their numbers grow, women clergy are coming to exert an increasingly visible political presence in the United States. Her lecture will focus on the story of women clergy's encounters with politics, demonstrating how gender, professional status, and religion can affect citizens' political attitudes and behavior.
“I argue that the combination of gender, minority professional status, and the nature of the religious traditions that ordain women act together to move women clergy ideologically toward the political left,” says Deckman. “Ironically, though, these same factors can combine to make it difficult and potentially risky for women clergy to engage in visible action on controversial issues, but many do act, even on controversial issues such as gay rights and abortion. The ways that these women navigate the nexus of congregational ministry, community leadership, and prophetic political teaching is making a greater impact on American politics, both through their actions and through their influence on the beliefs and actions of the many American citizens who attend their congregations.”
The Rose O'Neill Tea & Talk Series showcases the research, writing and talent of Washington College's faculty and is held in the College's O'Neill Literary House. Established in 1985, the Literary House was acquired and refurbished through a generous gift of alumna Betty Casey, Class of 1947, and her late husband Eugene, in memory of his late mother, Rose O'Neill Casey. Now approaching its 20th anniversary, the O'Neill Literary House is a large, eclectic Victorian home that reflects the spirit of Washington College's creative writing culture.