Frances Kissling Interview on the Patriarchal Nature of Religious Texts

Frances Kissling Interview on the Patriarchal Nature of Religious Texts

Resource Type
Topical Interview
Publication Year
English (US)




Part of a series of interviews recorded in conjunction with WLP public event, 'Challenges of Change: Religion, Secularism, and Rights'.

Frances Kissling, scholar and activist in the fields of religion, reproduction and women's rights, former President of Catholics for a Free Choice (1982-2007) discusses the patriarchal nature of religious texts including Buddhism, constructions of nature of women and sexuality, and the way this is taught. Explores the impact of all-male clergy and limitations of the male perspective, common challenges among women of all faiths as history and gender within religions. Advocates for change via non-violent teachings of The Bible, religious feminists as touched by psychology, sociology, human experience, the criminal justice system, medicine, not confined to ancient writings. Reflects on effective strategies for influencing religious authorities and building allies, power of narration and sharing of experiences, engaging within religion, public exposure of abuses. Discusses the issue of equality within denominations, referring to the ordination of women, categorization of rights. Calls for links between secular and civil society to be made with religious institutions need for women to assume power. Discusses positions taken by the Catholic Church in relation to reproduction, sexuality, gender as contributors to violence against women, with the maxim of women as sexual temptresses, originators of sin, as a justification of efforts to control them.

Discusses the value of WLP to women's movement as an organization with a scholarly base and strategy of commitment to training and activism at the local level with a broad international base. Describes personal hope for the next generation to take power and responsibility of movement from Kissling's generation.