John Nelson

Major and Classification


Faculty Mentor

  • Cecil Murray, Sc.D.


  • Religion

McNair Project

Religious Sexism: The Leadership Role of African American Women in Contemporary Black Churches

African Americans have had a leadership role to empower one another politically, socially, and the like; however, as it pertains to the black church, they themselves have not supported the feminist cause. There is a disparaging difference between the leadership role of men and women within mainstream African American churches. The leadership role of women within many black churches is portrayed as being inferior to men. Many believe that it is men and not women who should maintain the absolute God given authority over a group of religious believers. This gender discrimination of women is an issue that is not always publicly discussed, and therefore, many parishioners are oblivious to the unjust treatment of women who seek church leadership roles. Although women comprise the greatest population of any Christian membership church organization, biblical texts and social constructs are used to maintain the oppression of women and enforcement of patriarchal structures. This ultimately limits women’s leadership roles within the black church where they are only able to preach, and not pastor. The role of women as it relates to religious worship, servant hood, and leadership will be analyzed and compared to their male counterparts through observation analysis and one-on-one interviews. One inner city, African American church that is headed by a female leader will be studied to closely support or dispel the truths of religious sexism.