Women’s Voices of Duty and Destiny

Religious Speeches Transcending Gender

by Elizabeth McLaughlin (Author)
©2019 Textbook XVI, 156 Pages
Series: Speaking of Religion, Volume 1


This book collection is a celebration of women who speak truth to power in the public square. A perfect fit for undergraduate students of rhetoric, gender, religion and history, Women’s Voices of Duty and Destiny showcases the speech texts of 14 women addressing societal issues from the values of their religious beliefs and discourse communities. Between the tensions of the duty of gender roles and human destiny, these global voices representing different time periods and religions address the thematic issues of faith, society, education, reform, freedom and peacemaking. Written in clear, straightforward language, students will directly encounter the words and voices of leaders who strive to make the world better for all in the quest for human dignity. Each speaker seeks to forward the transcendent value of human freedom as reinforced by her explicit references to the divine. This collection is appropriate for 200-400 level undergraduate classes and offers a broad sampling of women who speak in the public square.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Advance Praise for Women’s Voices of Duty and Destiny
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Faith
  • Rabbi Sally J. Priesand (1946–)
  • “Reflections on My Life as a Rabbi” (2009)
  • Agnes Baker Pilgrim (1924–)
  • “Water” (2005)
  • Society
  • Clarina Howard Nichols (1810–1885)
  • “The Responsibilities of a Woman” (1851)
  • Phyllis Schlafly (1924–2016)
  • “The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)” (1975)
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902)
  • “The Solitude of Self” (1892)
  • Education
  • Maria W. Stewart (1803–1879)
  • “Why Sit Ye Here and Die?” (1832)
  • Mary McLeod Bethune (1875–1955)
  • “What Does American Democracy Mean to Me?” (1939)
  • Reform
  • Frances E. Willard (1839–1898)
  • “Everybody’s War” (1874)
  • Aimee Semple McPherson (1890–1944)
  • “On Prohibition” (1930)
  • Human Freedom
  • Sojourner Truth (1797–1883)
  • “Ain’t I a Woman?” (1851)
  • Dr. Brook Bello
  • “The Beautiful Color of Freedom” (2015)
  • Peacemaking
  • Saint Mother Teresa (1910–1997)
  • “National Prayer Breakfast Address” (1994)
  • Dorothy Day (1897–1980)
  • “Union Square Speech” (1965)
  • Aung San Suu Kyi (1945–)
  • “Nobel Acceptance Speech” (2012)
  • Conclusion
  • Series index

← viii | ix →


During the twentieth century a growing consensus emerged that there was a single canon of great speeches with which every student of communication should be familiar. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, however, Professor Martin Medhurst issued a call for a reconceptualization of the canon of public address when he wrote, “What can be done—and ought to be done—is for individual discourse communities to form their own canons through the process of rhetorical archaeology—the recovery of texts and discourses central to the self-understanding and public expression of specific groups and movements.”1 This is the precise call to which Women’s Voices of Duty and Destiny: Religious Speeches Transcending Gender responds.

This volume is the inaugural contribution to Speaking of Religion book series. As a collection, the series grows from a scholarly attentiveness to the role that religion plays in the public sphere. The decline of religious influence in public affairs is a common yet false narrative in the United States. Americans remain a devout people who are motivated to action by their faith commitments. Several contemporary, ← ix | x → interdisciplinary scholars point us toward the privilege that religion and faith enjoy in public life. Collectively their work asserts that the world has entered a post-secular era: Secularism is dead and God is alive.2 As but a single example, Michael Minkenberg, writes about international policy debates and concludes that “even in the age of postmodernity, religion is still a force in the realm of politics, including policy making.”3

The Speaking of Religion series features short books in response to Medhurst’s call. These books focus on issues with which the public engages and in which religion is invoked. The author of each volume carefully curates a canon of authenticated speech texts that were either delivered by people of faith or were infused with religious arguments or a theological ethos. In most cases, the speech texts fulfill both of these criteria.

Professor Elizabeth W. McLaughlin herein focuses on religion and women. She identifies and investigates the tensions between the push women frequently experience between their duty to conform to proscribed women’s roles and place, and the pull these same women experience towards destiny and human freedom. The dialectic that defines these women and their public discourse is animated by religious principles. These are women who engage with the world on their own terms, demanding that they be respected while they likewise respect their listeners. To borrow W. Barnett Pearce’s phrase, the speakers found in this volume are cosmopolitan communicators.4 These are women of the world. They understand that their intellectual opponents were shaped by forces in the same way that they were shaped by political, religious, and social forces. And they understand the need for social eloquence, which is qualitatively different from rhetorical eloquence.

May we listen carefully and engage thoughtfully with their words, their dreams, and their ideals.

Daniel S. Brown, Jr., Ph.D.

Grove City, Pennsylvania ← x | xi →


1. Martin. J. Medhurst, “The Contemporary Study of Public Address: Renewal, Recovery, and Reconfiguration,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 4, no. 3 (2001): 505.

2. One fine introduction to this theme is Peter L. Berger, The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1999).

3. Michael Minkenberg, “Religion and Public Policy: Institutional, Cultural, and Political Impact on the Shaping of Abortion Policies in Western Democracies,” Comparative Political Studies 35, no. 2, (2002): 243.

4. W. Barnett Pearce, Communication and the Human Condition (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1989). ← xi | xii →

← xiv | 1 →


“So, God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God, he created them; male and female he created them.”

— Genesis 1:27, New Living Translation

“God is not feminine, but masculine. And man is made in the image of God. On the other hand, a woman is not made so much in the image of God, but in the image and as a mate to man.”

— Rev. John R. Rice, “Bobbed Hair,” Sword of the Lord Ministries


XVI, 156
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2019 (January)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2019. XVI, 156 pp.

Biographical notes

Elizabeth McLaughlin (Author)

Elizabeth W. McLaughlin, Professor of Communication, has been teaching at Bethel College, Indiana, for twenty years. Teaching numerous courses in writing and communication, McLaughlin earned her Ph.D. in communication studies from Regent University. Her scholarly interests include visual rhetoric, gender, and the rhetoric of religion.


Title: Women’s Voices of Duty and Destiny
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
book preview page numper 35
174 pages