Following Faith

A testament to changing times: Female pastors gain wide approval

First Published      Last Updated Mar 13 2017 09:36 am

Two thousand years ago, St. Paul wrote against women holding church leadership positions. Indeed, he even advised that some especially talkative female parishioners should quiet down, for God's sake.

Ah, what a change a millennium or two can make, according to Barna Group researchers.

In results released recently as part of wider-ranging study of women in power positions, Barna found that 79 percent of respondents questioned Sept. 12-19, 2016, said they were comfortable worshipping under a female priest or pastor.

Broken down by gender, 84 percent of women and 75 percent of men accepted female clergy.

When denominational groups were mined, Catholics — despite traditionally having an all-male priesthood — registered 80 percent approval for the idea of a female priest.

Seventy-one percent of Protestants and 62 percent who identified only as "practicing Christian" supported women pastoral leadership, though Evangelicals gave only 39 percent backing to having a female behind the pulpit.

Barna previously found that the percentage of Protestant female senior pastors remains small, about 9 percent. Even so, that number is triple the percentage of 25 years ago.

Accompanying survey results found Americans 85 percent in favor of a female in the White House, and 94 percent "comfortable" with a woman serving as CEO of a company.

Bob Mims