‘Religion Unmuted’ podcast elevates women’s voices in talks about religion, public life

Women are not well-represented in religious leadership positions or in public discussions of religion around the world — in spite of the fact that women are more religious than men, especially in the U.S.

That’s what inspired the Rice University Religion and Public Life Program’s new podcast, which seeks to elevate women’s voices in conversation about religion and everyday life.

“Religion Unmuted” is a collaboration between Religion and Public Life Program Director Elaine Howard Ecklund, the Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences, and Pamela Prickett, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Amsterdam and a former Rice postdoctoral fellow. The podcast brings female academics, journalists, activists and religious leaders and their male allies to the table for research-driven dialogue. Each installment examines how religion impacts public discourse around important social issues such as racism, politics, immigration, health and the body.

“In this deeply polarized time, we want to bring the most reasonable research-focused voices to the most contentious issues of the day,” Ecklund said.

Co-hosted by Ecklund and Prickett, the first episode released last month examined race, religion, gender and the presidential election with political scientist Laura Olson, the J. Strom Thurmond Professor of Political Science at Clemson University. The talk included analysis of why Democrats tend to focus on messages of collective freedom while Republicans promote personal salvation.

“There’s no arena where the intersection between race, religion and gender is more evident than it is in the contest for the presidential election,” Ecklund and Prickett wrote in a description of the episode. “And that’s never been truer than it is in 2020 in the contest between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden.”

Upcoming episodes will feature a leading polling expert and an internationally renowned scholar of African American Islam. Capturing the current moment, all three guests offer their perspectives on how America can move forward on race-related issues.

Ultimately, Ecklund hopes the podcast will promote a positive vision for and practice of public religion.

The first 12 episodes are supported by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. For more information on the podcast, visit https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/religion-unmuted/id1531024320.

More information on Rice’s Religion and Public Life Program is available at https://rplp.rice.edu/.

About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.