Manning, Christel (J.) 1961-
Manning, Christel (J.) 1961-
MANNING, Christel (J.) 1961-
Religious scholar. Worked as a teacher and Elderhostel lecturer; Hollins College, Roanoke, VA, instructor in department of philosophy and religion, 1994-95; Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT, began as assistant professor, became associate professor of religious studies and chair of department of philosophy and religious studies, 1995—.
Association for the Sociology of Religion, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion (national program chair, 1997), American Academy of Religion, Omnicron Delta Epsilon, Phi Beta Kappa.
Distinguished Scholars fellow, 1989-90; California State graduate fellow, 1991-92, 1992-93; Thomas O'Day Award for the study of religion and sociology, 1994; research award, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, 1994.
(Editor and contributor) J. Gordon Melton The Churches Speak On—Euthanasia: Official Statements from Religious Bodies and Ecumenical Organizations ("The Churches Speak" series), Gale (Detroit, MI), 1991.
God Gave Us the Right: Conservative Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, and Orthodox Jewish Women Grapple with Feminism, Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick, NJ), 1999.
(Editor, with Phil Zuckerman) Sex and Religion, Thomson Wadsworth (Belmont, CA), 2005.
Contributor to books, including Magical Religion and Modern Witchcraft, edited by James Lewis, State University of New York Press, 1995; Encyclopedia of Women and World Religions, edited by Serinity Young, Macmillan, 1998; The Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion, edited by Robert Wuthnow, Congressional Quarterly Books, 1998; and Reflexive Ethnography: Remembering for Whom We Speak, edited by Lewis Carter, Jai Press, 1999. Contributor to periodicals, including Sociology of Religion.
Christel Manning, who was born in California and raised in Germany, has taught classes that include introductions to religion and women in world religions. Her 1999 title, God Gave Us the Right: Conservative Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, and Orthodox Jewish Women Grapple with Feminism, is a study of women in these three conservative groups in which she demonstrates that conservative women are not entirely united in their views on such issues as feminism, abortion, and homosexuality. Library Journal reviewer Rachel Singer found "especially interesting" the differences between the positions these women have taken and those of the official leadership of their religious-right churches, "as well as the degrees to which these women have integrated feminism into their own lives."
Manning interviewed women who belonged to three congregations in the Los Angeles, California, area to reach her conclusions. She limited her interviews to those women who had left and then returned to the two conservative churches and one synagogue or who had converted. Her goal was, as she writes, to examine how women integrate "modern secular ideas—feminism in particular—with the demands and rewards of traditional religious participation."
Manning discovered that most of the women she spoke with worked outside of the home and believed in gender equity in the workplace, but did not support it to the same degree within marriage. The women all disagreed with abortion and homosexual rights. Those who belonged to the Charismatic Evangelical Protestant church believed the teachings of their ministers that hold that the solution to these perceived problems can be found in conversion and reforming society to reflect their standards. Betty A. Deberg noted in the Journal of Religion that "Protestants of a certain stripe want to reclaim America because of the historical experience in this country that led them to believe that 'they are America.' But such is radically not the case for Roman Catholics and Jews. Conservative Catholic women are not battling for America, according to Manning, but for the Roman Catholic Church itself."
Roman Catholics have never dominated American culture, and Manning found that conservative Catholic women, who tend to be in the minority even within their own parishes, are more preoccupied with the Church's teaching on these controversial positions and do not believe they can alter society at large. Deberg further noted that for Orthodox Jewish women "antiabortion and antihomosexuality positions were a part of the religious freedom they enjoyed in this country." These women cared little about how feminism impacted social trends or employment practices, although they oppose its influence in their synagogues and homes. Deberg called God Gave Us the Right "a cautionary tale about the dangers of generalizing about traditionalists/fundamentalists across the lines of historic religious traditions."
Manning is editor, with Phil Zuckerman, of Sex and Religion, a study of the various perspectives on sex held by a number of world religions, and how these views inform each religion's positions on gender and sexuality. A chapter each is dedicated to Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese religions, Judaism, Christianity, the Mormon religion, Islam, and the Children of God. Manning and Zuckerman, a professor of sociology and religious studies, provide the introduction and conclusion.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Manning, Christel, God Gave Us the Right: Conservative Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, and OrthodoxJewish Women Grapple with Feminism, Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick, NJ), 1999.
Journal of Religion, January, 2001, Betty A. Deberg, review of God Gave Us the Right, p. 146.
Library Journal, January, 1999, Rachel Singer, review of God Gave Us the Right: Conservative Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, and Orthodox Jewish Women Grapple with Feminism, p. 106.*