|A view introduced more or less coincidentally by several
comparative-historical social scientists that religion in the West, and
particularly in the United States, has been undergoing a process of
fundamental orientational change in which feminine (rather than masculine)
images of the nature of deity and the role of the clergy come to
predominate. God is seen as loving and consoling, rather than as
authoritarian and judgmental; similarly, members of the clergy are seen as
"helping professionals" rather than as representatives of God's
justice. These changes have been related to both cultural (e.g., Welter
1976, Swatos 1992) and sociostructural variables (e.g., Schoenfeld and
Mestrovic 1991), both as "cause" and as "effect." The
feminization thesis is particularly powerful in explaining shifts in the
practices of organized religions that have opened the ordained ministry to
women (see Nesbitt 1997). Recently, the feminization thesis has also been
applied to politics.
—William H. Swatos, Jr .
P.D. Nesbitt, The Feminization of the Clergy in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997)
E. Schoenfeld and S. Mestrovic, "With Justice and Mercy," Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 30(1991):363-380
W.H. Swatos, Jr., "The Feminization of God and the Priesting of Women," in Twentieth-Century World Religious Movements in Neo-Weberian Perspective (Lewiston, N.Y.: Mellen, 1992)
B. Welter, "The Feminization of American Religion," Dimity Convictions (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1976).
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