Over 60 percent of Christian women in the U.K. have said in a survey that they have experienced sexism in the Church, while 75 percent insisted that God finds both men and women equal and able to preach His word.
A booklet on the poll results, titled "Minding the Gap," released March 8 by the Sophia Network, a group which seeks to empower women in Church leadership, said that while most respondents, at 86 percent, feel like valued members of the Church family, there are still big problems to tackle.
The online survey, conducted between May and June 2017, based on 1,211 respondents, did not provide information about the margin of error.
It found that 75 percent of those who responded would identify as egalitarian, meaning they believe that men and women are equal, and that God gives both genders the authority to preach, as opposed to those who say that men should serve as the spiritual leaders of the church and the family.
Sixty-two percent said that they have experienced sexism in the Church, with anonymous women sharing of the experiences they have been subjected to.
One woman said that she was told that her infertility was "down to my maternal grandmother's sin, when it fact it is because I was raped. I cannot describe the lioness anger that the consequence of a male sin was attributed to my female family line."
Another woman said: "When I felt initially called, the minister told me to get married and have children instead."
"Being told my marriage would suffer if I went into church leadership, being told it was 'an abominiation' for a woman to lead the church, being harassed until I left my church and joined the Church of England," said a third.
"Being described as 'evil' and having the ability to lead a male colleague into sin," another account revealed.
Other findings in the survey were more positive. As many as 87 percent said that women are encouraged to use all their gifts, including teaching, at their churches; another 77 percent said that there are female deacons or elders at their church.
Fifty-nine percent had at least one female minister, and only nine percent said that a woman has never taught a service at their church.
When it comes to the barriers facing women in the Church, institutional sexism was listed at the very top, singled out by 53 percent of the respondents. Lack of female mentoring and leaders came in at second place at 46 percent, and lack of theological understanding at 42 percent.
"The Minding the Gap report gives valuable insight into the experiences of women in the U.K. church. It is easy to rely on hearsay and feeling when it comes to gender equality, and this welcome report provides much needed facts," said Amanda Jackson, Executive Director for the Women's Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance.
"The picture from the report is hopeful because things are changing, but also reminds us that the biblical understating of the equality of women and men still needs to grow," she adds.
"And along with that, men and women need to work actively to provide opportunities for women to use all their gifts. The Church can be a shining light countering discrimination, sexism, and gender violence — this report helps us all to see what we are doing and what we still need to learn."
Female Christian leaders and authors in the U.S., such as Beth Moore and Jen Hatmaker, have also joined hundreds of evangelical women in calling out sexual and psychological abuse in the American Church.
"Fundamentally, we understand violence against any individual, regardless of their ethnicity, creed or gender, to be a matter of our Christian faith. Genesis 1:26 declares that all people are made in the image of God, both men and women," read a statement on the #SilenceIsNotSpiritual campaign website, launched in December 2017.
"Women are equally called and created with the full potential and capacity to steward the world. All abuse disfigures human dignity and distorts the image of God," it added.