The History of Feminism and the Church -- By: Mary A. Kassian
The History of Feminism and the Church
Part III: An Excerpt And Summary From The Feminist Gospel, By Mary Kassian
Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt and summary of Mary Kassian’s book, The Feminist Gospel: The Movement to Unite Feminism with the Church (Wheaton: Crossway, 1992).
In the early seventies, women-centered analysis of medicine had encouraged a return to the ancient art of witchcraft. Similarly, Elizabeth Gould Davis in The First Sex, had hinted at the existence of a matriarchal goddess religion of the past. But it was Robin Morgan who, at a lesbian feminist conference in Los Angeles in 1973, initiated the merging of feminist politics with women’s spirituality. In the keynote address of the conference, Morgan identified the need for personal activism. She cited her own source of strength as being drawn from the ancient art of Wicca.
Secular Feminist Spirituality
Morgan’s disclosure of herself as a witch popularized the pursuit of spirituality within the movement. Feminists such as Merlin Stone in When God Was a Woman and Morgan herself in Going Too Far articulated their spiritual experiences and new religious concepts. Because feminism validated women’s experience, the propositions of these women gained rapid acceptance and were soon embraced en masse by others.
Feminists could not accept the vision of the Creator God presented by traditional patriarchal religions. They rejected the biblical God who demanded complete worship and obedience, and who judged those who did not conform to His will. Such a God was dualistic and oppressive. And since He was described using predominantly male metaphors, this God also legitimated and perpetuated the subjugation of women and the dominance of men. Therefore, they discarded Him.
The feminist “right to name” allowed women to dictate the shape of religion based on their own experience. Feminists encouraged women to use their imagination in creating new visions of God and new forms of worship and ritual.
This was evidenced throughout a three-day Boston conference on women’s spirituality in 1976 where many new forms of religious expression were explored. Some women led workshops on music, dance, and painting, while others taught rituals and incantations of witchcraft. Participants accepted all expressions of personal feelings as appropriate vehicles for communication of religious sentiments. Leaders instructed participants to set aside a small corner of their homes as an altar to be used for meditation and focusing of their wills. They were to set up a mirror to represent the goddess. In that way, women would continually remind themselves that “they were the Goddess and that they had divine beauty, power an...
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