WOMEN IN RELIGION

WOMEN AND TECHNOLOGY

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“The PC has improved the world in just about every area you can think of. Amazing developments in communications, collaboration and efficiencies. New kinds of entertainment and social media. Access to information and the ability to give a voice people who would never have been heard- Bill Gates"

We are living in a world where many people spend a lot of time on social media connecting with people from everywhere. Social media has become a meeting room for many organizations and inventions have being birthed through social media. Rapid growth in the use of online social networking has allowed these platforms to be used as technological tools for changing religious, political, and economic attitudes and behaviours. Many religious communities and church congregations create opportunities for social interactions beyond the regular worship services. Youth groups, men’s worship groups, women’s circles, summer camps, and other activities provide a social network of people to connect beyond their shared faith.

Sister Catherine Wybourne, prioress of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Oxfordshire, and digital nun on Twitter said, "Being web-savvy should be a required skill for religious leaders in general". Religious leaders have websites, blogs and Twitter feeds, there are email prayer lines, online confessionals, and apps that call the congregation to prayer. On the other hand, Dr Paul Teusner, a lecturer at Melbourne is of the opinion that, “The technology presented to religious organizations is wrapped with cultural values that compliment, challenge or repel religious attitudes”. He argued that the web might have encouraged a conceptual approach that does not hold firmly to a single standard but has drawn multiple theories which has turned us to consumers of religion.

The continuous use of social media is challenging the control that leaders once had over their doctrine and congregates. The web has rapidly increased the interpretation and articulation of different religions and individuals have much more freedom in deciding whom to approach as a source. Religious leaders are required to be more accountable and transparent in their interactions with those outside the traditional hierarchies.

Christian missiologist, Ed Stetzer said that social media has come to stay. He said, “At once it represents technology at its finest, and humanity at its worst. But the same was said of television, and cinema, and probably the printing press”. According to him, social media can be treated as a god as the day of some people revolves around consuming and interacting with every bit of information delivered to them. In his words, “We can treat it as Satan, which others do and rail against the evils that come through MySpace (not realizing that, maybe the Devil left there, too)”. Social media is seen as a tool and the wrong use of it can have a negative impact however, it can produce results when applied correctly.

Professor Michael Kruger said that:
"We live in a world where technology advances at such an overwhelming pace that we hardly have time to stop and be amazed by it. According to him, despite the goo use of social media within the church, it causes short attention span, low view of authority, over-focus on equality, lack of physical presence and low commitment and accountability".

Digital Marketer, Bex Lewis said that social media has become better and easier to use. She said in time past, social media was used by people in dark rooms, people who had shut themselves away however, the use of social media has become more open. According to her, a person does not have to have computer knowledge to use social media however, communication skills are essential.

She spoke briefly on the influence that social media has on the world.

She also spoke about how social media can help bridge the gender gap currently been experienced in churches.

Dr Bex explained that social media could show the world that Christians are real people with real passion. She said that people could come to the church and still do the things they love such as clubbing and going to the pub. She said, “Church is a thing that you enjoy, you find encouraging that helps develop your life as a whole, the spirituality has an impact on your life as a whole”.

Speaking on the best social media handles suitable for churches, she said that churches should look at what is popular and trendy. She however suggested Twitter as it gets people involved before, during and after an event, Facebook, as it is good for individual one to one stuff, Pinterest works best for children’s activities and Instagram for pictures. However, she said that it is important for people to understand the restrictions about showing kids.

She also spoke about her upcoming projects.

THE MEDIA IN WOMEN IN RELIGION

The media has been at the heart of debates regarding women in religion. Rosie Dawson, the producer of Religion and Ethics at the BBC said that the difference in the reporting of men and women within the media is not always gender related. She said there used to be a sort of Christian stereotype in the media though they are not as bad as they used to be. The stereotypes were attached to the clergy in a sense that they had to appear in a certain way and speak in a holy voice, which was quite unreal. She said that was the most common stereotypes in television especially in comedy. She said it is very difficult to generalise stereotyping because the stereotypes will differ enormously depending on the media outlet.

Another common stereotypes found in media reporting on women in religion is about Muslim women. Muslim women especially those with black hijabs and black full covering are seen as submissive, oppressed and almost non-people who do not have a voice of their own however some active Muslim women are beginning to challenge those stereotypes. She also spoke on the gender gap in the church using her church as an example.

From her reporting, Rosie that some of the reasons why women are said to be more active in the church is because they have more time and are more drawn towards nurturing a relationship between them and Jesus. She said, “Women are more likely to volunteer, single women are much more sociable than single men and that would be reflected in the churches. When asked about if the media can help to bridge the gender gap in the media, she said she does not think it is the work of the media to bridge the gender gap in churches but the responsibility of the churches. She said, “It is the job of the media to reflect what they see”. According to some media accounts, women so outnumber men in the pews of many churches that some clergy have changed decor, music and worship styles to try to bring more men into their congregations.

Singer Charlotte Church says the way women are portrayed in the UK's media is "despicable" and likens the media to a class bully.

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