Women’s issues, particularly those related to #ChurchToo and #MeToo, prompt religion publishers’ continuing interest in titles that address the silencing and abuse women face in the church and religious institutions.
With #ChurchToo: How Purity Culture Upholds Abuse and How to Find Healing (Broadleaf, Mar.), author Emily Joy Allison turns over the rocks of the institutional church’s sexual dysfunction. Allison, who launched the #ChurchToo movement when she outed the pastor who abused her, reveals how sexualized violence in religious contexts is ubiquitous and uniquely traumatizing. She also lays the groundwork for healing for the church and survivors of sexual shame. “The answers are not simple, or fun,” she writes, “and they will not allow the existing power structures to be maintained. They require radical deconstruction of closely held beliefs and the willingness to sacrifice personal gain and social goodwill to do the right thing.”
Brazos Press, a division of Baker Publishing Group, has three releases coming up that take on women’s experiences—and the wisdom they have to offer both sexes. “Most Christian women I know have witnessed some form of harassment or misuse of power in a professional setting,” says Brazos acquisitions editor Katelyn Beaty. Prey Tell: Why We Silence Women Who Tell the Truth and How Everyone Can Speak Up (Mar.) by Christian writer and speaker Tiffany Bluhm explores the complex dynamics of power and abuse. She tells stories of women who have exposed the truth and the backlash they often faced. And she reveals cultural and spiritual narratives that silence women and the impact of that silence in the face of injustice.
“Bluhm makes clear,” Beaty says, “that when we speak up to address misuse of power, we do so not only for ourselves, but for other women who cannot speak for themselves. This topic, unfortunately, continues to be timely—which makes Bluhm’s message all the more urgent.”
Another Brazos offering on the subject is The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth (Apr.) by Beth Allison Barr, an associate professor of history and associate dean of the Graduate School at Baylor University. In her book, Barr provides context for contemporary teachings about women’s roles in the church. She also examines the #ChurchToo movement and abuse scandals, with the goal of helping readers understand that biblical womanhood is more about human power structures than Christ’s message.
“My hope,” Beaty says, “is that Barr’s meticulous historical research on the roots of ‘biblical womanhood’ will help women and men alike approach the topic of gender in the church with more humility and grace.”
The Brazos editor also points to a title about women that’s not for women only: Abuelita Faith: What Women on the Margins Teach Us About Wisdom, Persistence, and Strength by Kat Armas (Aug.). Armas is a second-generation Cuban American whose earliest theological formation came from her grandmother, her abuelita. She shows how women’s voices on the margins—in society and in the Bible—have more to tell us about faith than we realize, according to the publisher.