Taking Back God
American Women Rising Up for Religious Equality
By Leora Tanenbaum
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374272357, 368pp.)
Publication Date: December 23, 2008
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
In Taking Back God Leora Tanenbaum recounts the stories of women across the United States, starting with herself, who love their religion but hate their second-class status within it. If you’ve witnessed the preferential treatment of men in America’s houses of worship, you will not be surprised to learn that there is a surge of women in this country rising up and demanding religious equality. More and more, religious women—Christian, Muslim, and Jewish—are declaring that they expect to be treated as equals in the religious sphere. They want the same meaningful spiritual connections enjoyed by their brothers, fathers, husbands, and sons. They embrace the word of God but are critical of their faith’s male-oriented theology and liturgy. They reject the conventional interpretations of religious traditions that give women a different—and, to their minds, lesser—status. Rather than abandoning their faith, they are taking it back and making it stronger, transforming religion while maintaining tradition.Tanenbaum relates the experiences of Catholics, evangelical and mainline Protestants, Muslims, and observant Jews. The conflict they face—honoring tradition while expanding it to synchronize with modern values—is ultimately one that all people of faith grapple with today.
Leora Tanenbaum is the author of Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation and Catfight: Rivalries Among Women—from Diets to Dating, from the Boardroom to the Delivery Room. She lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.
"Rich in anecdote, careful in analyses, strong in message, this highly readable and sophisticated text not only will the inform the public at large but also chart the way forward for so many women who have chosen to take this journey." —Blu Greenberg is the author of On Women and Judaism "Taking Back God is an enlightening, inspiring look at how our faiths can—and should—reflect our highest ideals about morality and God. It's a must-read for anyone who cares about religion in America today." —Danya Ruttenberg, author of Surprised by God and editor of Yentl's Revenge: The Next Wave of Jewish Feminism
“Religious feminism is not dead! If you believe in gender equality and belong to any of the three great ‘religions of the Book,’ Taking Back God will both energize and anger you. An observant Jew herself, Leora Tanenbaum carefully nuances the secondary status of many women in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. She shows how women are challenging repressive traditions in light of the core values of their faith. As a Christian feminist myself, I especially appreciated learning about Jewish and Muslim women in parallel circumstances and with similar interpretive hurdles. Tanenbaum blends extensive research with human interest stories and an embracing attitude that keeps one turning the pages.” —Reta Halteman Finger, Assistant Professor of New Testament, Messiah College, Grantham, Pennsylvania; and former editor of the Christian feminist magazine Daughters of Sarah
“In Taking Back God, Tanenbaum has done a great service by presenting a riveting account of the sexist sins of our fathers in not one but three major religions, and by giving the faith-filled women fighting to elevate women’s place in these religions the respect and attention they deserve. To every woman of faith who has ever sat in her church, mosque, or temple feeling belittled, hurt, angry, and alone, this one’s for you.” —Angela Bonavoglia, author of Good Catholic Girls: How Women Are Leading the Fight to Change the Church
“It is a joy to find a book on women and religion that speaks from the point of view of religious women—women who love not just spirituality but organized religion, who care about tradition and ritual, and who hear the voice of egalitarianism as divine. At last, a treatment of Islamic gender debates that does not isolate Islam from other religions, or assume that Muslims are inherently more sexist than others. This book is a sincere attempt to understand, in a broad, generous, interfaith perspective, the concerns of religious women for equality and justice.” —Mohja Kahf, Associate Professor, Middle East and Islamic Studies Program, University of Arkansas; and author of The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf“Leora Tanenbaum is so uncannily accurate in capturing not only the facts but the nuanced heartbeat of a world that I know well—I read the book in one sitting. This is the most comprehensive overview of the status of women and religion I've read. It chronicles the harm religion can do to both men and women, but also holds out a promise of radiant hope.” —Frank Schaeffer, author of Crazy for God