You have Stept out of your Place: A History of Women and Religion in America
Lindley, Susan Hill. You have Stept out of your Place: A History of Women and Religion in America. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996.
In her chapter, “Alternative Religions in Nineteenth-Century America,” Lindley shows how this period of fermentation and experimentation fostered new Christian sects which challenged social, economic and religious orthodoxy. Lindley highlights four of these sects—the Shakers, the Oneida Community, the Mormons, and Christian Scientists. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, was a model of women’s revelatory and authoritative leadership—so much so that while alive she maintained overall control of her church. She also instituted equal roles for women and men, structuring into the church’s organization vocations for teachers, healers and lecturers. Theologically, Eddy would envision God as both Mother and Father, deducing from there that women and men were inherently equal, as they were both created in the image of God. She is also known for rehabilitating Eve in the Genesis 2 creation story as “the first to abandon the belief in the material origin of man and to discern spiritual creation” (Science and Health, 533). Significant from a social standpoint, the church’s focus on spiritual healing would considerably challenge the male-controlled medical world. These vocations opened up roles for women and economic independence, although Lindley does note that in the chapter on marriage in her textbook, Science and Health, Eddy endorsed her day’s traditional gender roles.
ISBN-13 (Softcover): 978-0664257996
ISBN-13 (Hardcover): 978-0664220815