Recent changes in women's ordination conflicts: The effect of a social movement on intraorganizational controversy
Conflicts over women's ordination have occurred within U.S. religious denominations for over a century. The nature of those conflicts, however, has changed over time in very substantial ways. Using systematic data and illustrative material from 15 conflicts occurring since 1920, we argue that the most recent of several shifts in the nature of conflicts over women's ordination occurred circa 1970. We identify four ways in which post-1970 women's ordination conflicts differed from pre-1970 conflicts: (1) The frequency with which the conflicts occurred among denominations increased. (2) The organizational location of those most prominently advocating women's ordination shifted from the organizational elite to the grass roots. (3) Women's ordination advocates more frequently used extrainstitutional tactics in pursuit of their goals. (4) Organized opposition to women's ordination became more common. We argue that these changes in women's ordination conflicts were largely produced by changes in the social and cultural context, especially the rise of second-wave feminism and the associated influx of women into divinity schools and seminaries. © Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 1997.
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