In November, Christian author Rachel Held Evans posted a tweet about The Nines, a Christian leadership conference. Evans noted that of the event’s 100-plus speakers, only four were women. “This is not what the Church looks like,” she declared.
The event’s producer, Todd Rhoades, defended himself, and the ensuing conversation—most everyone seemed to agree—did not go very well. But it started a much larger discussion in Christianity, with numerous authors and platforms chiming in. Most agreed that, yes, women are underrepresented in Christian leadership. It also served to highlight an important trend in American Christianity: Feminism is coming back.
As Laura Turner pointed out in a recent op-ed for Christianity Today, the label “feminist” still has negative connotations for some within the American Church, with the ideas of feminism often seen as being at odds with Christianity.
But now, many Christians are reclaiming the label, saying that it doesn’t have to be radical, anger-fueled or in any way at odds with Christianity. Writers such as Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist, are calling Christians to revisit and re-examine the Bible’s view of women and their place in the Church and the Kingdom.
The tenor of the conversation about The Nines may not have been a hopeful sign, but it demonstrates a shift. While feminism may not be embraced in every corner of the Christian community—or conference circuit—this is a conversation that can’t be ignored any longer.