Have any religions/belief systems ever been founded by women?

According to some estimates there are 5-7,000? current ‘religions’ in the world. Well, we all know it’s impossible to exactly define religion, so let’s just go by what we all know as religions/worldviews/beliefs, and exclude something like ‘a group of women decided to see the world differently by believing in women’s rights, so that is a belief system.’ One could argue infinite things like that if one wanted to, so I’m making it clear: let’s just stick to the real stuff, not make obtuse arguments, please?. :wink:

And I know some people don’t consider a lot of stuff even belief systems, but absences of belief systems, but still, let’s consider those too, b/c from a layman’s perspective- which I am- they are pretty much, even though I really know they’re aren’t and I understand where you come from.

So now my question: in human history can anyone name some religions/belief systems/worldviews/something-like-that that have been conceived and/or founded, and also possibly dominated (at least at first before men took it over :rolleyes: ) by women? Let’s not discuss religions that have had a lot of women or a majority of women- if it wasn’t founded or conceived in thought by a woman, let’s not discuss it. I know you guys know a lot about early gnosticism and witchcraft and other things that women also did; please, let’s just stick to the OP? :wink:

Alright well google yields this page, which lists:
[li] International Church of the Foursquare Gospel[/li][li] Mount Sinai Holy Church of America[/li][li] Christian Science[/li][li] Unity Christ Church[/li][li] Shakers[/li][li] Tensho Kotai Jingu Kyo[/li]
Quakers wasn’t quite founded by a woman, but “Margaret Fell Fox, wife of George Fox, the founder of the Quaker tradition, wrote extensively on the subject of women, with detailed interpretations of Biblical Scripture citing the many
examples of women speaking “in the power of the Lord” and challenging
the misinterpretation of Scripture that held women silent.”

And also, Seventh Day Adventist Church.

Okay, so these appear to be all.

I don’t know if it qualifies as a religion (lines between cults and religions vary) but Ayn Rand, author or “Atlas Shrugged” had a following that is cult-like IIRC. You can check Google.

Very good; however, if one were to post something about Oprah or Martha Stewart, however cult like they were, I would not allow it. :smiley:

So far as I have ever been able to tell, Randists (including Rand herself) are mostly just a large group of people who all consistently fail to say what they think in way that sounds pleasant. So they end up just sounding mean-spirited.
I’m not certain that being consistently grumpy is enough to declare them a cult. Though I do have to wonder why people would follow someone whose message was to not be a follower. :smack:

As to the OP, haven’t the foggiest. Shinto was (I believe) originally quite female centric and (again, I believe) the early governmental bodies of the Japanese people were mostly female–so there is some chance. Unfortunately, I don’t think there would be enough evidence to prove anything one way or another (…not to mention that like Judaism, it probably was a religion that grew over time from smaller superstitions rather than begun by a single founder.)

The twelfth century European Beguine movement was founded and mostly populated, by women. It was a kind of lay religious movement which stressed poverty and devotion to the humanity of Christ. In England, in the thirteenth century, Margery of Kempe had some following, in the same tradition, although I don’t know that you’d call her the founder of a religious movement exactly.

The Beguines: http://www.spiritualitytoday.org/spir2day/91431peters.html

Mary Baker Eddy founded the Christian Science Movement.

The Relgious Movements site at the University of Virginia also offers a number of religious movements founded by women, including Tenrikyo in Japan and Sahaja Yoga in India.


As mentioned above, the Shakers in the UK were formed by a women, one Mary Ann Girling. I know a bit about it because they settled not far from where I come from, in the New Forest. There’s recently been an excellent book written on the subject and a review of it is here:

I’ve been told that when she died her followers waited round her grave to see if she would rise again after three days, but alas, twas not to be. Now there is nothing left of her but a plaque – and the part of the graveyard she might have been buried in has been built on. The New Forest Shakers seemingly all disbanded or died out and I think it was a group that had splintered from the main one before they went South that formed the US Shakers.

I’m not entirely sure about this one but wasn’t Madam Blavatsky (sp.?) linked with Theosophists? Not sure if she founded it or was just one of the main spokespersons.

One Christian denomination not only started by a woman, but named after her, is the Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion.

The first I thought of isn’t even here (as far as I can see) – Mary Baker Eddy of Christian Science.

The next one I thought of was Mother Ann of the Shakers, but she’s here already.

Then there was the Montanist sect in early Christianity. Although a bloke named Montanus was the front man, he took his orders from two prophetesses named Maximilla and Priscilla. Montanism originated in Asia Minor in the second century AD and seems to have been an attempt to reconcile the Phrygian-Roman religion of Cybele, the Great Mother goddess, with Christianity.

Missed it – blackboyah beat me to it.

The Shaker’s weren’t really a religion. They didn’t worry too much about actual religious tenets, and came from different backgrounds (though all, AFAIK, protestant. While they didn’t have children, they had nothing against other people doing so and even felt it was a good thing. They didn’t expect or even want Shakerism to “take over.”

Susan Alamo deserves a mention

The OP is asking about religions/belief systems founded by women. There’s no stipulation that you have to **like **them.

They absolutely did have religious tenets – they believed Mother Ann Lee was the second coming of Christ.

Eh? I was correcting the use of the term cult–which implies illicit activities and pagan practicies neither of which Randists indulge in.
Commenting on their general lack of presenting their opinions in a pleasant way was just additional information for why they are often viewed negatively–and thence might be referred to derogatorily, such as being called a cult.

Certainly didn’t mean anything bad. Just correcting misinformation.

Damn. So religious fervor is out. Does that rule out radical feminism?