Under-Representation of Female Religious Leaders Sparks Concern

Franque Thompson

OMAHA (KPTM)- There are many religions around the world. One group, Project Interfaith, say many lack female leadership.

To create awareness to try and change that, Project Interfaith, held The Stained Glass Ceiling conference--to discuss the successes and challenges of women's religious leadership.

"It's really wonderful to see that it is an inclusive environment because it doesn't always happen. It's not like every interfaith event, ends up being we all have something in common, something to talk about," said Dr. Juliane Hammer, American Muslims assistant professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

One of the issues discussed--how only 17 percent of religious leaders are women.

"Many conservative evangelical churches and non-denominational churches often preach the headship of men ad refuse to allow women pastors," said Alisa Roadcup, director of U.S. Advocacy and Development at Heshima Kenya.

"I have friends who are female pastors and there's still an issue where women get, instead of on their message, people are critiquing their makeup and how they look that day," said conference participant Michelle Smith.

They conference offered roundtable discussions to help further address the issue of how others can embrace women in religion.

"By exchanging dialogue with others at a table you understand, 'Well I said this,' but they didn't understand it that way. That kind of experience is very critical to our own personal growth and helps us perceive and be more spiritual ourselves," said Padma Kuppa, executive council member of the Hindu American Foundation.

Their religious beliefs may be different, but conference participants say they all still have a connection.

"We are all human beings. And if you're religious we're all equal in the eyes of god. If you're not religious, we're all equal in the eyes of humanity, or secular government," said conference participant Clare Koesters.

"We're able to make these connections and we can create a better world for ourselves and for our communities and our children," said Kuppa.

Their start to that better world comes from the fellowship of inter faith.

Presenters from all around the country shared their successes and challenges as spiritual leaders.