This week, I published a column here at RNS asking “Are Christian conferences sexist?” in which I surveyed the proportion of female speakers at some of the major gatherings of importance to evangelical Christians. It unexpectedly set off ripples of emotion across social media and the internet.
Some were angered that I would even insinuate such a thing about a community in which many are theologically committed to male leadership. Others were relieved that someone had the courage to report the numbers and start an honest conversation about the matter. It seems to me there was pressurized emotion underneath the surface, and my hope is that the column began the process of lancing the boil so that we can now begin to discuss how to move forward. Diagnosis must precede treatment.
But while the wound is open, I suppose we might as well do a complete check-up. One sentiment echoing in the comments of that column and throughout the Twittersphere was not just that Christian conferences were dominated by males, but rather by “white males.” So I began to ask how, in fact, Christian conferences were faring on matters of racial inclusion. I started with The Nines conference, since their abysmal number of women speakers prompted this conversation to begin with. By my count, out of the 110+ speakers at The Nines, only seven were minorities. This low number, constituting less than 10%, made me push deeper and re-survey the major Christian conferences popular among evangelicals.