You have to read this article. It’s by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times.
No, really. Read it.
It’s all about how religion oppresses women. Sometimes, the Scripture says it directly. And sometimes, it’s the religiously-inspired culture.
Kristof also says that if religion is the problem, religion can be the solution, but that requires a fundamental shift in the mindset of the followers of several major faiths. That’s not likely to happen. I think ridding these cultures of the religious mindset in the first place would do far more good for them than re-shaping the superstitions that are already there.
We know that many religions, moderate and extreme, treat women as second-class citizens. At worst, it’s violence and oppression — women are victims of “honor killings” or forced to live a life without a real voice. At best, in some cases, it’s blatant sexism — women are in the minority in leadership positions.
I’ll be the first to admit that not all denominations of all faiths are like this. I’ve met several Christian women, for example, who are in no way treated as anything less than an equal.
But too many women are not on par with men, and they are in the majority.
Just check out a few of the problems causes by faith that Kristof highlights:
It is not that warlords in Congo cite Scripture to justify their mass rapes (although the last warlord I met there called himself a pastor and wore a button reading “rebels for Christ”). It’s not that brides are burned in India as part of a Hindu ritual. And there’s no verse in the Koran that instructs Afghan thugs to throw acid in the faces of girls who dare to go to school.
Yet these kinds of abuses — along with more banal injustices, like slapping a girlfriend or paying women less for their work — arise out of a social context in which women are, often, second-class citizens. That’s a context that religions have helped shape, and not pushed hard to change.
The New Testament quotes St. Paul (I Timothy 2) as saying that women “must be silent.” Deuteronomy declares that if a woman does not bleed on her wedding night, “the men of her town shall stone her to death.” An Orthodox Jewish prayer thanks God, “who hast not made me a woman.” The Koran stipulates that a woman shall inherit less than a man, and that a woman’s testimony counts for half a man’s.
Today, when religious institutions exclude women from their hierarchies and rituals, the inevitable implication is that females are inferior…
It sickens me to think about. But it makes me proud to be free of religion.
More liberal theists need to speak up. They need to publicly denounce others in their faith who hold these anti-women views.