Most US Evangelicals Reject Female Leadership, Research Shows
Evangelicals in the US are less accepting of female leadership even than Roman Catholics, according to a study by the Barna research group.
The study found that though large numbers of Americans embrace the presence of female leadership at work and in politics, they are least comfortable, comparatively, with women leading the church. However, the vast majority (79 per cent) are comfortable with a woman in the pulpit, with more women than men (84 per cent vs 75 per cent) expressing this view.
By contrast, among evangelicals only 39 per cent say they are happy with women in ministry.
Among practising Christians in general, 62 per cent said they accepted female leadership. Surprisingly, this rises to 80 per cent among Catholics, who have an all-male priesthood, while Protestants are on 74 per cent.
Previous Barna research found the percentage of female Protestant senior pastors had tripled from 25 years ago and now stands at nine per cent. While generally satisfied in their ministry, they are more than twice as likely as men to say they were unprepared for expectations of perfection placed on them, at 18 per cent against eight per cent.
Barna Group editor in chief Roxanne Stone said: 'As evidenced by the research, the issue of women in leadership is a complicated one for many evangelicals. There is a long history among evangelicals of emphasising motherhood and family as a woman's primary calling. While the broader culture, and much of the Christian Church, has shifted away from this, evangelicals seem more reluctant to do so. This reluctance is often tied to a scriptural reading that insists men are to occupy primary leadership positions within the family and church and, by extension, society.'
She added: 'Evangelicals aside, most other practicing Christians would be comfortable with a woman in the pulpit.'