Religion often has a reputation for not supporting the equality of women. Especially during Women’s History Month on a secular college campus, I thought it would be intriguing to explore such ideas, so I reached out to each of the nine self-identified “Faith-Based” organizations at Cleveland State University.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am the President of Viking Catholic and the Secretary of Campus Bible Fellowship, two of the Faith-Based organizations. I used the “Connect” feature on VikesConnect to ask each organization the same list of questions, and it was the only way I discussed the article with the organizations. Each organization was asked to explain its goals, the role of women in the organization (or the role of women in the faith that the organization is associated with) and events planned for acknowledging Women’s History Month.
I received a reply from the Collegians for Christ, Coptic Club, CSU Pagan Alliance, Global InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and Viking Catholic.
Collegians for Christ
The Student President of Collegians for Christ at CSU, Kyle Grimm, explained that the group is a Christian Bible study that meets weekly on campus to study and discuss the Word of God.
Kyle explained the role of women in the faith, as Collegians for Christ was founded by Baptists. Kyle emphasized Naomi and Ruth, particularly because Ruth married Boaz, and their great-grandson was King David, whose lineage led to Jesus Christ. Mary Magdalene was one of the first eye witnesses of the tomb of where Jesus Christ resurrected, and she was the first to witness Jesus Christ in His resurrected body. Kyle also explained the role of modern women:
“Today, women are vital in the work of the church. If it were not for the role of women, the church would not function as smoothly as it currently does,” said Kyle.
Collegians For Christ does not have events planned to acknowledge Women’s History Month.
President of the Coptic Club, Sheiry Makar, shared that the goal of Coptic Club is to create a welcoming environment for students that are members of the Coptic Orthodox Church and all who are interested in learning more about the roots of the Copts.
Sheiry explained that the role of women in the Coptic Orthodox Christian faith is “monumental” with examples being educating new generations, church boards, and leadership and organization of social events, charity groups, and community outreach.
She elaborated by saying, “Though our church follows a more traditional belief system, contrary to popular belief, women have always played a significant role in our faith, and continue to do so. From the Mother of God, St. Mary, to women in the Bible, saints, nuns in monasteries, our beliefs would not be the same without their contributions.”
Sheiry emphasized how Coptic mothers have guided families and the church through persecution, and they pass the faith sincerely from generation to generation.
The Coptic Club will hold an event on Thursday, March 23rd to discuss the role of women in the Coptic church.
CSU Pagan Alliance
Raven Grice, the founder and President of CSU Pagan Alliance, explained that the group was created to bring students with non-traditional religions together and teach others who are curious. The group has non-traditional Christians, Pagans, Wiccans, Atheists, and polytheistic religions.
Raven explained the role of women in some of the group’s non-traditional religions:
“Wicca/Paganism follows a lot of older religions such as Norse, Egyptian, Greek, and more. In Wicca specifically, women have a lot more roles to play than men, and part of it is believed to be because women are closest related to the earth and their gods and goddesses,” said Raven.
Raven also explained that generally more women practice than men, and women are more likely to relax and have an open mind, allowing women to have a closer connection to nature.
CSU Pagan Alliance will acknowledge Women’s History Month at Ostara, the spring equinox, on Friday, March 24th. Ostara will have information about the holiday and its usual traditions at the event, while celebrating its female members for coming with extra giveaways. On Tuesday, May 2nd Beltane, the summer solstice, will also acknowledge women.
Global InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
Monique Cobbin, the President of Global InterVarsity, described the organization as a welcoming family of CSU Internationals and Americans who offer activities for students. The group is Christian-based, but they warmly welcome individuals of all faiths and beliefs.
Two women lead a weekly event on campus called CBC (Collegiate, Black, and Christian) which is a Black expression of Christianity. Monique also explained the role of women in Christianity.
“Our organization is a Christian organization. Women are very important in our faith. The souls of men and women are equal in God’s eyes. We believe that women were created to be ‘a helper’ to men (Genesis 2:18),” said Monique. “God created Eve because Adam could not exist alone, he needed a woman. We believe women are a NEED. Without women, humans could not operate. God intended for women to be here and knew the impact they would have.”
Global InterVarsity does not have events planned for Women’s History Month.
Joe Alto, the Campus Minister for Viking Catholic, explained that the main objective of Viking Catholic is to be a viable Catholic presence at CSU. Viking Catholic strives to spread the Gospel message and Catholic teaching through action.
Joe explained the role of women in the faith:
“Christianity is an incarnational faith. Without a woman (Mary), Jesus would not have walked as a human. We honor the role Mary has played, looking to her as our spiritual mother. In addition, there have been thousands of women who have enhanced the Catholic faith throughout the centuries, from Mary Magdalen, to Mr. Theresa.”
Viking Catholic is not planning any events to acknowledge Women’s History Month.