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Women in Secularism Conference- Washington DC

Women in Secularism - yes, we are here despite opinions to the contrary. That was the message from the first secular conference devoted to the experiences of women freethinkers, skeptics and atheists.

As someone who has come relatively recently to the secular community, I can say without reservation that I was deterred by the apparent maleness of the movement and felt that though I might agree with the ideals expressed regarding free thought, reason and skepticism, in no real way did I see my values and experiences as a woman reflected.

As a member of the Clergy Project and as a former RC chaplain and MDiv student, I had already left behind a patriarchal institution that undermined my value as a person and limited my function as a representative of that "tribe". So, it is easy to understand why I wasn't jumping at the opportunity to align myself with secular organizations who though most likely unaware, were perpetuating a subversive status quo.

That is why I was so happy to see CFI, with support from other secular groups like RDFRS, bring together this first conference for women secularists and to see men attendees there to lend their support to this event.

Having had a primary focus on feminist theology during my undergrad and MDiv, I was so committed to attending this conference and to this topic of raising the profile of women secularist, that I forwent attending the Reason Rally. When I first got an email about this conference I couldn't help but think of Elisabeth Cady Staton and the meeting that she held in Seneca Falls. I don't think those trail blazers realized the full impact that their little meeting would have.

So now that the conference has wrapped and we have heard one another's voices and been challenged by the scope of systemic sexism, both in the west and thanks to Wafa Sultan; in the Islamic world, what can we do?

If being a member of the Clergy Project has taught me anything, it is that we must keep talking, working and deconstructing these ideologies, both religious and cultural, that limit the full expression of women and our lived experiences.

So trail blazers, let's have it! I'm game are you?

Bio - Dunphy is the current Secretary for The Clergy Project. She is a former RC Chaplain with an academic focus on feminist theology. For more information about the Clergy Project please visit



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