This data was last updated on 23 October 2013.
Address: 21079 1st Avenue South, Bushnell, SD 57276
Covered Women for God is an online e-group networking women of faith who hold the common religious conviction to veil themselves and to dress modestly.
Creating a Unified Voice: Covered Women for God was founded in 2000 by Muslim South Dakota resident Anisah David. After hosting a number of workshops for Muslim women of international descent, David realized the importance of educating them and others about how and why women in other faith traditions cover, too. David also noticed that because covering has such international connotations, American women who are covering, especially those in rural areas, can feel isolated. Founding the e-group was her way to give a unified voice to women as both Americans and as those who dress modestly out of respect for their religious traditions.
Online Membership: Since Covered Women for God was first introduced as a Yahoo e-group, more than 200 members have joined. The members represent a number of different religious traditions, although the bulk of those participating are from the ‘Abrahamic’ faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). Because of the group’s web-based nature, its membership is also growing to have global dimensions, including not only participants in the United States, but also others in North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Since September 11th alone, the membership has doubled with a notable increase from non-covering traditions – specifically, Christian women covering "from head to toe." A Buddhist nun and an atheist were also among some of the participants who joined and who were not from covering traditions. These women, said David, covered "not because their traditions told them to," and often without the support of their husbands.
Interfaith Dialogue at Home: A unique aspect of the group lies in its ability to involve women who are not normally reached in interfaith dialogue. Namely, it allows religiously conservative women who do not generally go beyond the margins of their own faith communities, as well as covering women who are usually minorities in the areas they are living in, to participate. Furthermore, the convenience of the internet allows stay at home moms and those in rural areas to take part without leaving their homes. Some women, however, are moving beyond this e-conversation and exchanging contact information to meet with other veiled women in person. Much of the interfaith discussion in the e-group revolves around supporting one another in her individual practice to dress modestly. This includes sharing information on the best place to buy a snood or swapping names, addresses, and internet sites of places to buy modest clothing. Not only that, women are talking about their own traditions and sharing their own religious experiences in wearing a veil. For many in the group, this means discussing how they deal with discrimination, misunderstandings, harassment, and being looked at differently because of their decision to cover. To ensure an appropriate environment for discussion, certain rules have been put in place including a 'no preaching', no conversion policy. In addition, the discussions are monitored by a member of each faith group to make sure that the women are respectful of one another. These monitors also serve to keep men out of the women-only group who have frequently sneaked in or tried to join because they are looking for covering companions.
"Sisters of the Veil": Although the need to preserve safe and anonymous voices was not the original idea behind forming an online group, David believed the group does provide that security for women where this might be an issue. “For many, the e-group allows a sense of veiling...that way, it is safer to ask a silly question.” Thus, even in the early stages of the group's development, discussion topics were posted to relieve hesitation and fear about what was religiously taboo to discuss. Today, the e-conversation has shifted to an open forum like setup. David believes this illustrates that women are growing to feel more comfortable with one another, and in particular, with other faith traditions. For instance, women in the group began calling one another ‘sisters of the veil’ – a reflection of the connection they share through covering that they do not even share with non-covering members of their own traditions. A few veiled Christian participants also revealed that when they see veiled Muslims out on the street, they are not afraid to talk to them anymore, and they even approach the women to introduce themselves. “These women are learning to cross that cultural etiquette boundary,” said David, “because they see that they share something in common.”