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If you’re familiar with African American religious history, you know that black women outnumber black men in the church. There are a lot of theories about why, too. Author Zora Neale Hurston, for example, said that black women were “the mules of the world,” and that the church gave them a place to lay their burdens down. But what if there’s something more to it than that? What if women go to church for empowerment? To wield power in sometimes subversive but spiritual ways? Subversive, because in many black denominations only men can be ordained to the clergy, but women have found ways to lead nevertheless.

Anthea Butler joins us to talk about her book, Women in the Church of God in Christ: Making A Sanctified World. The Church of God in Christ, or COGIC, is a Pentecostal denomination that began around the turn of the twentieth century. Women have played crucial parts in the development and growth of the church, despite not being ordained.

Butler also recently delivered a Maxwell Institute Guest Lecture here at Brigham Young University on Baptist missionaries who came to Utah to save Mormons. You can find that lecture here.

About the Guest

Anthea Butler is graduate chair and associate professor of Religious Studies and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Butler’s research and writing spans religion and politics, religion and gender, African American religion, sexuality, media, religion, and popular culture. She has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other media outlets. She is the author of Women in the Church of God in Christ: Making A Sanctified World.




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