by: Sarah Stankorb
Journalist Sarah Stankorb outlines how access to the internet--its networks, freedom of expression, and resources for deeply researching and reporting on powerful church figures--allowed women to begin dismantling the false authority of evangelical communities that had long demanded their submission.
A generation of American Christian girls was taught submitting to men is God's will. They were taught not to question the men in their families or their pastors. They were told to remain sexually pure and trained to feel shame if a man was tempted. Some of these girls were abused and assaulted. Some made to shrink down so small they became a shadow of themselves. To question their leaders was to question God.
All the while, their male leaders built fiefdoms from megachurches and sprawling ministries. They influenced politics and policy. To protect their church's influence, these men covered up and hid abuse. American Christian patriarchy, as it rose in political power and cultural sway over the past four decades, hurt many faithful believers. Millions of Americans abandoned churches they once loved.
Yet among those who stayed (and a few who still loved the church they fled), a brave group of women spoke up. They built online megaphones, using the democratizing power of technology to create long-overdue change.
In Disobedient Women, journalist Sarah Stankorb gives long-overdue recognition for these everyday women as leaders and as voices for a different sort of faith. Their work has driven journalists to help bring abuse stories to national attention. Stankorb weaves together the efforts of these courageous voices in order to present a full, layered portrait of the treatment of women and the fight for change within the modern American church.
Disobedient Women is not just a look at the women who have used the internet to bring down the religious power structures that were meant to keep them quiet, but also a picture of the large-scale changes that are happening within evangelical culture regarding women's roles, ultimately underscoring the ways technology has created a place for women to challenge traditional institutions from within.