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Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's all Buffy's fault

NOTE: I don't know. What do you think: Has the church lost its relevance for modern women?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer slaying church attendance among women, study claims
The old-fashioned attitudes and hierarchies of churches are causing a steep decline in the number of female worshippers, according to an academic study.

By Martin Beckford, Religious Affairs Correspondent
Telegraph UK
Last Updated: 10:24AM BST 23 Aug 2008

The report claims more than 50,000 women a year have deserted their congregations over the past two decades because they feel the church is not relevant to their lives.

It says that instead young women are becoming attracted to the pagan religion Wicca, where females play a central role, which has grown in popularity after being featured positively in films, TV shows and books.

The study comes amid ongoing controversy over the role of women in all Christian denominations. Last month its governing body voted to allow women to become bishops for the first time, having admitted them to the priesthood in 1994, but traditionalist bishops have warned that hundreds of clergy and parishes will leave if the move goes ahead as planned.

The report's author, Dr Kristin Aune, a sociologist at the University of Derby, said: "In short, women are abandoning the church.

"Because of its focus on female empowerment, young women are attracted by Wicca, popularised by the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

"Young women tend to express egalitarian values and dislike the traditionalism and hierarchies they imagine are integral to the church.

"Women's ordination, as priests and now bishops, has dominated debate and headlines – but while looking at women in the pulpit we have taken our eyes off the pews, where a shift with more consequences for the church's survival is underway."

Her research, published in a new book called Women and Religion in the West, cites an English Church Census which found more than a million women worshippers have left churches since 1989.

Over the past decade, it claims, women have been leaving churches at twice the rate of men.

In addition, the census is said to show that teenage boys now outnumber girls in the pews for the first time.

Dr Aune says the church must adapt to the needs of modern women if it is to stop them leaving in their droves.

She believes many women have been put off going to church in recent years because of the influence of feminism, which challenged the traditional Christian view of women's roles and raised their aspirations.

Her report claims they feel forced out of the church because of its "silence" about sexual desire and activity, and because of its hostility to single-parent families and unmarried couples which are now a reality for many women.

But it also says changes in women's working lives, with many more now pursuing careers as well as raising children, mean they have less time to attend church.

Dr Aune believes churches must now introduce services and activities that fit in better with modern's women's schedules, such as Saturday morning breakfast clubs.

She said: "Gone are the days when the mother was at home during the day and had time to visit the church's coffee mornings and mother and toddler groups.

"With the pressures women face, churches must adapt to make themselves more accessible."

Christina Rees, chairman of the pro-women bishop campaign group Watch, said the report highlighted the damaging effect that traditionalist attitudes within the Church of England are having on women.

She added that the introduction of female bishops will lead to a renewed interest in the church among young people and women in particular, despite the opposition to the historic step from Anglo-Catholics and conservative evangelicals who believe scripture and tradition teach that bishops must be male.

Ms Rees told The Daily Telegraph: "What this research reveals is that a lot of people are put off by traditional stances and attitudes. We still have a long way to go before women, particularly young women, feel as included in the church as men do.

"I'm absolutely convinced that when we have women as bishops that it will send out a very clear message that women are as valued as much as men."

The Church of England declined to comment.


Ostrich said...

Church of England caught with its head in the sand? Surely not?

David@Montreal said...

"Young women tend to express egalitarian values and dislike the traditionalism and hierarchies they imagine are integral to the church."

... sounds like yet another call for the patriarchy to get over itself and release its stranglehold on the Church


Fr Craig said...

I read an article recently that said most young people think Jesus is wonderful and agree with his teachings - they just don't see Jesus in the Church. How often this is true... I push my congregations to do 'hands on' ministry - the work of Jesus. Hasn't 'taken' yet, but I'm praying!
I am not sure there is a difference in this between young men and women.

JimB said...

Far be it from me to speak for young women. I am a very old guy after all.

But, I am also an old Boy Scouter and yes, I suspect they are on to something because the boys also think of the church as a place for old and largely irrelevant to contemporary life. I suspect the reason the writer is noticing girls leaving is the boys left sometime ago. We give girls so much less freedom they are just now getting around to leaving.

I live in the diocese of Chicago which is also the location of the Willow Creek mega thing (whatever it is.) They are now talking about not getting the young people into their (almost said "clutches") membership. Gee, maybe because the kids are completely turned ff by 'organized religion?'

Another straw in the wind, my son (age 28 I said I am old) is finding increasingly, that he faces a set of negative assumptions when he lets his contemporaries know he is both an eagle scout and an Anglo-catholic. They simply know he is intolerant, anti-gay and misogynistic. Of course he is none of those things, but he need only mention going to mass on Sunday to face the assumption.


Mary Sue said...


Yes, it's all Buffy's fault I haven't gone to church in months. *nods and was totally wearing her "Joss Whedon is my Master Now" t-shirt this weekend*

It has nothing at all to do with the fact that when I do go to church I am expected to change my schedule around to accomodate the meetings set by retired folks (including the priest, who retired and then went into the clergy) who don't quite understand I can't take time off work to attend parish meetings and classes, and that having the only worship service all week at 9AM on Sunday when sleep is the only luxury my student-loan-paying behind can afford.

Lindy said...

I have my own job, I make my own money and my own decisions, I run every aspect of my life without benefit of any men. Why do I need them at church?