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Gender Inequality and Religion

 
 
Reply Sun 8 Aug, 2010 12:29 pm
The foundations of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all assign a subordinate role to women. Extreme cases involving Islam have been in the news recently. Historically, of course, Christianity and Judaism have also suggested that women are the property of their husbands.

Maybe only the fundamentalists in each religion are guilty of perpetuating gender inequality. In general, however, women are excluded from leadership positions in all major religions.

Is there any hope that major religions can purify themselves from this bias? Have any steps already been taken to separate doctrines and practices from gender inequality?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 7 • Views: 8,934 • Replies: 28
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NickFun
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Aug, 2010 12:45 pm
I am a Buddhist. Buddhism firmly states that women are equal to men in that they also possess the Buddha nature and are equally capable of achieving enlightenment. We have many female leaders in our Buddhist organization.
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reasoning logic
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Aug, 2010 12:47 pm
@wandeljw,
It does seem that most religions have evolved, I very well may be wrong but I do think that the majority of mankind will all be disbelievers of religion in the near future as the spread of knowledge and education has advanced with the help of the internet.
Intrepid
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Aug, 2010 01:06 pm
@wandeljw,
You may find that some women Ministers and Priests may not agree with you. You will find that many Christian churches have made significant changes without changing the spiritual doctrine.
reasoning logic
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Aug, 2010 01:15 pm
@Intrepid,
How would you define a spiritual doctrine? Are there any parts in the bible that are not inspired by God, that should not be used as spiritual doctrine? If so would you please give a example. Thanks
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djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Aug, 2010 01:17 pm
@Intrepid,
but not without schisms, my mothers church (Community of Christ, formerly RLDS) agrees with the ordination of women, a bunch of folks broke ranks and started a separate church because of this belief , an interesting consequence of this is, my aunt goes to the break away church with one daughter and her family, the other daughter is married to man who's mother is ordained in the original church, wonder what family gatherings are like
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Aug, 2010 01:53 pm
@reasoning logic,
rl, I disagree; religions are here to stay. Most people's belief in their god are based on emotion, not logic. That hurdle will never be crossed.

Buddhism is probably the only religion that seeks to improve oneself, and not worry about other's failings. My wife is a Buddhist, and all my siblings are christians.
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Aug, 2010 02:59 pm
Well, the Catholics once had a female Pope (without knowing) - since then the
"testicle test" will prevent any future mishap.

The Anglicans on the other hand, have female priests and several allow ordination of female bishops. The Protestants believe in "priesthood of all believers" but there are no women either, but the United Methodists allow
ordination of women.

Even the Lutherans whom I would call more progressive, believe that priests
are men chosen by God to represent him. Women are not chosen for these tasks, therefore cannot be part of priesthood.

They all claim that this has nothing to do with equal human rights, or discrimination against women, it is simply what God taught them through the
bible.

So there you have it! Religion at it's best - either you believe in all that nonsense and then so help you God, or you realize that it's all been a nice
fairy tale.
reasoning logic
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Aug, 2010 03:21 pm
@cicerone imposter,
I never said that it was going to go away completely. I think that the majority of the people will be able to accept the truth for what it is. I think that there will be a minority that will always believe in all sorts of things well after the majority becomes unbelievers in the books of religion.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Aug, 2010 04:28 pm
@reasoning logic,
rl, If you read my post again, I never used the world "completely."
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wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Aug, 2010 06:03 pm
@Intrepid,
Intrepid wrote:

You may find that some women Ministers and Priests may not agree with you. You will find that many Christian churches have made significant changes without changing the spiritual doctrine.


In my post, I asked whether there already has been reform on this issue. I am happy to see women being given leadership roles by some Christian churches. I wish that the Roman Catholic Church had done so as well.

I am also happy to hear about the Buddhist position on this issue. My wife is from mainland China but was never involved in any religion. (Her family had suffered somewhat during China's "cultural revolution." Religious affiliation would have made matters worse for them.)

In my opinion, a basic element of any religion should be to treat all human beings equally. Gender inequality appears to be the most persistent problem.
Intrepid
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Aug, 2010 06:30 pm
@wandeljw,
Thankfully, there has been progress. Granted, not enough but at least it seems to be getting better and going in the right direction.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sun 8 Aug, 2010 06:53 pm
@Intrepid,
Intrepid, Exactly my sentiments concerning progress in our country. I remember a time when I was told to "go back to your own country," and I'm third generation American. Some decades ago, I also remember a time when only whites were on tv and advertisements. We now have minority tv anchors and politicians in our country. Although women still make less on average over men, that too is showing some progress. We see more women in positions of responsibility where white men once dominated.

We continue to see progress; even in CA, Judge Wright overturned Prop 8.

The glass is more than half full now, but I wonder if it'll fill up during my lifetime.
0 Replies
 
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Aug, 2010 10:49 am
Religion like any other social institution evolves with the times. Being a conservative force however it may change more slowly. What a religion should or should not be is not really relevent. What the social standard is is what is relevent. Take this gender inequality issue in abrahamic religions for instance. One cannot lay blame on patriarchal societal dogma on a religion. Before the Abrahamic religions were evne around there was already a patriarchal society. Archaeological evidence suggests that as soon as people moved from hunter gatherer status where women held much more prominent positions in general (equal to many cases leadership over males) to pastoral and agrarian societies, that the social structure changed from primarily matriarchal to patriarchal.

This can be materially explained by simple task distribution based on biological necessity. Hunter gatherer: women are more gatherer and restricted to home base because of child rearing. Men could venture much further as hunters, although the evidence suggests they did much more gathering, just at a distance from whatever home base they were using for that part of the seasonal round. Although the food brought in by hunting has more nutrients, the food gathered as processed near home provides most of the daily dietary calories. A society builds up around females who make most of the everyday decisions and seen as primary providers of health, food, and welfare.

After the switch to pastoral and agrarian economies, the males stayed close to home, and being, in general stronger plowed and/or tended animals, which put them in charge of the majority of food production. Also being close to home, stronger, and more agressive it is natural for the male to attempt to usurp power. Protection of a centralized homestead and later city->state->nation also became a central priority of males, who quite frankly are genetically expendible. Whatever the actual reasons as far as anthropology and archaeology can tell, the switch was fairly universal from matriarchal to patriarchal at the switch from one economy to the other.

Now with the economy since the industrial revolution, where more and more women are providing more and more of the family income and there is little necessity in the industrialized world for males to express protective behavior, there is less reason for male exertion of power. Society is once again changing to adapt to new material roles played by the sexes. Religion being a conservative force believed because of faith is just changing more slowly, and as with all massive paradigm shift, much of the ultra conservatism may be societal reactionism.

anywho, that's my two cents, and probably about all its worth.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Aug, 2010 11:03 am
@GoshisDead,
GD, Pretty good analysis wrapped up in four short paragraphs. Mr. Green
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Aug, 2010 11:38 am
@GoshisDead,
What you say is mostly true. Societies are patriarchal or may have gender bias to begin with. The problem is that some societies or governments are theocratic (in such cases the inequalities come directly from religious doctrine.)

In my opinion, a religion should not institutionalize gender bias in its hierarchical setup or in its doctrinal laws concerning marriage and family. Religions sometimes hold on to gender bias in spite of the social changes going on around them.
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Aug, 2010 12:03 pm
@wandeljw,
I was simply saying that should and should not, I.e. your current opinion is a product of a changing societal viewpoint, while religion in general being a conservative force is lagging behind and assuming current trends in material production and social stance on gender issues, it will catch up. the switch from matriarchal to patriarchal worlwide may have taken a couple thousand years, you being in a hurry is not likely to affect the evolution of the process worldwide.

I know, I'm a downer
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Aug, 2010 01:02 pm
@GoshisDead,
I see the distinction you are making. Thanks for the clarification.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Aug, 2010 06:03 pm
@CalamityJane,
Was that Adrian? I was told that, but never saw a confirmation.
0 Replies
 
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Aug, 2010 06:11 pm
I received this in an E Mail. I had to turn it off in the middle because I could not bear to watch it. It is a case of a religion turning misogyny into a way of life from which a woman could not escape.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojBrzUil0Ig
 

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