Do you choose someone who may grow to major prominence in the future? Jackie Hill Perry, 33, is a former lesbian now married mom of four; author, poet and black hip-hop artist best known for her book “Gay Girl Good God,” which puts her in the middle of the sexual orientation/conversion therapy debate.
Or there is Valarie Kaur, 41, author, Sikh activist and filmmaker, lawyer and founder of the Revolutionary Love Project, which promotes justice in the fact of hate crimes?
None of these women have had major take-outs in the secular media (that I know of) even though their accomplishments — often in the face of much suffering — are spectacular and dwarf many secular counterparts.
One thinks of Masih Alinejad, 46, an Iranian-American journalist, author, and women’s rights activist who works for the Voice of America’s Persian Service. Raised a Shi’ite Muslim in a small town in northern Iran, she focuses on women’s rights in Iran — and Islam. She finally had to flee the country to New York, where her life is still being threatened.
Or do you limit your choices to women who are religious professionals, such as Yolanda Pierce, 48, dean of Howard University School of Theology — and the first black woman to do so, or Sharon Eubank, 59, one of the top female leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who has been in charge of its charitable arm, Latter-day Saint Charities, overseeing the distribution of $2.3 billion worth of aid?
Or go for women who thrive ion pop culture, such as Delilah Rene, 62, the most listened-to woman on American radio, and an industry in her own right? Her Facebook page and website are peppered with names of celebrity friends. Although she speaks of her Christianity in the most general terms and mainly talks to her vast audience about the healing power of love, her faith is the bedrock from which she operates. (See my 2019 Seattle Times piece on her).
Or Anne Lamott, 68, who has been called “a feminist C.S. Lewis” — because she talks about God, politics and other un-politically correct topics — in her many popular books? She may be the most important writer to make God talk fashionable among readers on the the left.
Help me out here, folks, and put some of your votes in the comments field.
There are several must-include women who have already received many plaudits, such as Nadia Bolz-Weber, 53, Lutheran minister and public theologian famous for founding the gay-friendly House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver. She has been called “one of the rock stars of the emerging church.” (See my 2014 profile on her here).
Of course there is Beth Moore, 65 — prominent evangelical blogger, speaker and mega-author whose female-oriented Bible studies started in the 1990s in Houston boomed into a hugely successful women-centered ministry with millions of books sold. She was the most prominent Southern Baptist woman in the country until she began publicly opposing Donald Trump on Twitter. Her opposition to white supremacy and her openly preaching in megachurches provoked such an angry reaction, she left the denomination for the Anglicans.
There are folks in academia, such as Amy-Jill Levine, 66, the Rabbi Stanley M. Kessler Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Hartford International University who has spent the past half-century studying Christianity and Judaism, attempting to unravel the tangled relationship between the two religions. She is a leading figure in Jewish-Christian interfaith relations.
Nearly everyone with whom I’ve talked about this list mentions Lila Rose, 34, a Catholic activist who at the age of 15 founded Live Action, a group that documented illegal activities in abortion clinics (such as refusing to report statutory rape). She’s since morphed into a mom with two kids and a speaker, author and podcaster — and has been especially active on the TV circuit since Roe v. Wade reversal in June. Atlantic magazine has called her “the face of the millennial anti-abortion movement.”