Catherine Brekus considers how change happens, and how things stay the same.
Until fairly recently, when historians wrote about religion they usually focussed on leaders. And leaders were men. And so I think history was told as the story of male leaders, and it was just assumed that women were somewhere in the pews. But I think what we have to recognise is that churches would not exist at all if not for the choice of women to attend church, to devote their labours to sustaining churches, and that there has been nothing inevitable about that – that women in every generation have had to decide whether or not they’re going to continue that work of building churches, sustaining churches.
So historians like to talk about how change happens, but we also need to think about why some things seem to stay the same. And what you can see with women is that women, for many generations, have continued to make the decision to support churches and therefore to keep Christianity going as a religion.