Women Not Allowed to Speak During Lutheran Church Vote

Before you read the headline and the article, realize a few things:

This took place yesterday.

In Wisconsin.

In a Lutheran church.

So much for a “harmless” Christian sect.

The headline:

Baraboo church doesn’t let women speak or vote as school principal is fired

Here’s the story in a nutshell:

Women from St. John’s Lutheran Church said they want basic rights and that the lack of those rights is what led to the firing of the school’s principal.

The Lutheran school’s principal, John Hartwig, was fired on Sunday, mainly because of his beliefs that women should be respected more in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod Church…

And at the meeting to decide his fate, the women were commanded to shut up while the men voted to oust Hartwig 76-74.

Church leaders argue that they weren’t disrespectful to women at all:

Women who wanted to ask questions at the meeting were told to write them on a piece of paper and have a man read them aloud. But some, including Hartwig’s own daughter, said their questions were never read.

“Our congregational president was not trying to disrespect anyone. We have a wide number of households and a representative spiritual leadership of males who were asked to speak on behalf of their families so the meeting would not be over five hours,” said the Rev. Carl Schroeder, of St. John’s Lutheran Church, in the statement.

Because obviously women have no opinions of their own. They can only speak through a male translator.

At least a few of the women are coming to their senses:

The women who didn’t have a voice at the meeting said they hope they’re heard loud and clear next year when they move their children to public school.

“They’re willing to take our money and take our time and ask us for more, but when it comes to our opinion, it’s not really needed,” [mother Julie] Cutrell said.

Of course, if they knew the church’s policies were anti-women for so long, I wonder why they would enroll their children in the church-affiliated religious school in the first place — or even be part of the church.

I never thought I’d be defending a principal who thinks he needs to “assist parents with their God-commanded responsibility to train their children in the truths of Scripture.” But he got shafted by people even less rational than himself.

I’m waiting to hear other Christians denounce these people and their beliefs.

So far, nothing.

(Thanks to Glenn for the link)

  • WayBeyondSoccerMom

    A friend of mine sends his daughter to a school similar to this one, even though he’s not that religion. He just doesn’t like his public school choice.

    No female at the school can be president of any club at the school, because the school feels that girls need to learn early on that men are always the leaders.

  • http://primesequence.blogspot.com/ PrimeNumbers

    That’s quite disgusting.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    I’m waiting to hear other Christians denounce these people and their beliefs.

    It’s a Biblical viewpoint.

    1 Timothy 2:11-14

    A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

    Any Christian who rejects this is arguing against the Bible. I can’t help but chuckle.

  • Matt

    Yet another reason not to go to the Wisconsin Dells. Just in case the Tommy Bartlett Entertainment Stranglehold wasn’t enough.

  • mikespeir

    Oh, no, MikeTheInfidel! You just don’t understand, because you don’t have the Spirit to help you interpret. What the Timothy passage actually means is that women should be able to speak their minds and be fully equal with men. Why? Because Adam was as deceived as Eve was.

    There. Now, if you need any more help with biblical exegesis, just lemme know.

  • Sarah TX

    Oh yeah, that Paul fellow. Whatta douche.

  • http://atheistreadsbible.blogspot.com/ Jude

    In the church I grew up in, women did all the work–prepared communion, cleaned the church, taught most of the Sunday School classes–but reaped none of the rewards. Christianity’s continuing oppression of women is one of its greatest evils.

  • Neon Genesis

    “Oh, no, MikeTheInfidel! You just don’t understand, because you don’t have the Spirit to help you interpret. What the Timothy passage actually means is that women should be able to speak their minds and be fully equal with men. Why? Because Adam was as deceived as Eve was.”

    Uh, no. 1 Timothy is a forgery written long after Paul’s death and are not the words of Paul. Try learning something about religion first.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    It is votes like this that perpetuate the conservative trend of many churches. This year, the vote was 76-74. Odds are, that by next year, perhaps two of the “74″ will leave the church because they are discusted with the politics. Assume 2 new people males satisfy the church tenure requirement and get voting privileges. Assume one would vote with the “76″ and one with the “74″.

    The new balance of power will be 77-73. Even if one of the original “76″ moderates and now votes more progressive, the balance of power will still be the original 76-74.

    Extreme views within a church tend to keep the church extreme due to the exodus of the moderates.

  • Erp

    Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) wouldn’t care what other Christians think because they think almost all the other Christians aren’t Christians (Missouri Synod might pass but certainly not Evangelical Lutheran Church in America which, gasp, ordains women, Baptists of all sorts are also out, wrong theology even if conservative). As for why people belong, for many it is because their parents and grandparents belonged and they haven’t left yet. They have a fairly extensive web page http://www.wels.net/what-we-believe/questions-answers

    • Tim, WELS member

      ERP, you are a Moron! We never said that other Christians are not Christian, We just want everyone in our synod and Communing church body to be in agreement and understanding with one another, and we take What the Lord says very Seriously, as everyone should! But, anyone that takes Jesus as his personal savior for redemption of his sins, By Jesus BLOOD ALONE, that Man/Woman is saved They are a “Christian” by definition. STOP PUTTING WORDS IN OUR MOUTHS, AND STOP DISCRIMINATING AGAINST MY RELIGION AND BELIEFS!! You are a Hater, a hypocrite, and you obviously have no idea what you are talking about as you utter compete lies. It is quite obvious that you are led here in your words by the prince of darkness.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Beth

    What pigs. Misogyny is my main reason for leaving the church.

  • Angie

    It’s sad that this sort of misogyny still exists in 21st century America. Sexist pigs!

    • Tim, WELS member

      Angie, STOP DISCRIMINATING AGAINST MY RELIGION!! HATER

  • mikespeir

    Uh, Neon, believe me, I know Paul wasn’t the author. But then, where did I say he was? Besides, I can’t believe you didn’t see my comment for the sarcasm it was. Did it really need a smiley?

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    I thought the women’s suffrage movement was successful in the US in 1920. I guess that this news hasn’t reached the Lutherans yet.

    Don’t you Americans have equality laws? Perhaps Hartwig’s own daughter feels discriminated against due to her gender and might feel compelled to take this to court. Given the result John Hartwig can certainly demonstrate a financial loss as an indirect result of discriminatory practices.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    As an aside the United Arab Emirates is extending women’s suffrage this year to make it more equal. Parts of the UAE operate under Sharia law. That means that the Lutheran church in Wisconsin is operating under less equal conditions than much of the UAE.

    I know I’m not comparing like with like but still the phrase “Sexist pigs!” has never been more suitable.

    • Tim WELS member

      hover frog, you wouldn’t happen to be looking for an American wife by chance now would you?! I was thinking that might be why your so interested in bashing the so called SEXIST PIG husbands. Your always right there at their side. And by the way, you have no idea how much I suffer for my family and how many daily hardships I bear for the sake of my family! I even saved my wife from an abusive father, so BACK OFF you commie piece of trash

      • hoverFrog

        You found a three year old comment to attack. Well done genius, I’m totally put in my place.

      • hoverFrog

        Tim WELS member, so aptly named. I’m not interested in an American wife or an American husband though I thank you for your interest in me as a potential mate. I’m sorry to tell you that I’m already with someone and I’m not available right now. It’s not you, it’s me. I’m sure you’ll find someone eventually.

        Why reasons, three years ago no less, for bashing sexist pigs is pretty straightforward. I support an open and equal society where everyone has the right to speak if they wish, even when we’d prefer it if they shut their cake hole. When a church goes and tells half their flock that they should shut up and obey their husbands it annoys me. The comparison with UAE being more interested in equality that this Lutherian church in Wisconsin is valid though you could argue that it is hardly relevant except to demonstrate the juxtaposition.

        I must say that I have no interest in how you suffer for your family. We’ve all got stories of how hard we work and how much we’ve sacrificed for those we love. You’re not special for doing this, you’re just doing what you have to by placing your family above yourself. That’s a good thing and you should keep doing that.

        The sexism isn’t putting someone else first, it’s putting them down so the men can get their way. It’s the very opposite of sacrifice. Equality necessarily means that some of the privileges that you have will be lost, you may not like it but you should accept it if you want an equal society.

        I didn’t mention my political opinions here and unlike America we in Europe don’t have such hostility towards the idea of communism. Nevertheless I am not a communist. I’m actually unaffiliated politically. Which is, of course, entirely irrelevant.

  • nankay

    To the woman who threatened to put her kiddos in public school: What makes you think your husband will LET you if you are not even allowed to voice an opinion??

  • nankay

    By the way, has anyone read the comments posted at the end of the article? Oy vey. There’s a whole lot of stupid there in one small space.

  • Oberon

    And these are the people who think they should run the U.S. government as a “Christian nation”?

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    @mikespeir,

    Although I thought your comment was sarcasm, in general when it comes to religion it is hard to identify sarcasm since the subject matter is entirely subjective. It would be difficult to craft a religious statement, no matter how ridiculous, without there existing someone somewhere that actually believes it.

  • http://thomaswhitley.com Thomas Whitley

    There are quite a few Christian denominations that denounce this sort of treatment of women. As with everything, we must all be careful about speaking in generalizations. Even so, being a Christian myself, I completely agree that the way many Christians treat women, minorities, homosexuals, etc. is deplorable and is, as @Jude said, one of the church’s greatest evils.

  • plutosdad

    RE: the Timothy and other quotes: the thing is 99% of christians will say that’s a 2000 year old rule they no longer follow (at least not since sufferage). But they do not take it a step furher and realize they are picking and choosing which parts of the Bible they want to follow, nor think about the ramifications of the fact so much of even the New Testament doesn’t apply to modern ethics but rather makes them uncomfortable.

    What does that mean? Nothing – they don’t want to think about it. To be fair it is not easy, it wasn’t easy for me to give up religion, but it is a point we must keep hammering on: “You don’t even follow or believe your holy book.”

    (Also I think we really need to focus on the New Testament when we do this, most Christians think the Old Testament is basically crazy and have written it off, so pointing out God sanctioning mass murder there doesn’t really affect them.)

    • Tim, WELS member

      You criticize people for not practicing what they preach, But apparently, you don’t realize that the WELS does practice what we preach, And we will “NEVER” give in to all of you liberals and change what “God Himself said” (God breathed), and we will never change what we believe and stand for!! We are not “People pleasers” but instead “God pleasers”! “STOP DISCRIMINATING AGAINST OR RELIGOUS BELIEFS AND FREEDOMS! And if you don’t like our church, “LEAVE”!

  • KeithLM

    Are we to believe that these women didn’t realize they had no rights in that church? I’d be surprised if this was a new thing, so why should I feel any sympathy for them? I only feel sorry for the children of these stupid people.

    This is America, if you go to a repressive church either quit or shut the hell up. It’s your own damn fault.

  • Gary

    Stop me if you’ve heard this anecdote before: A few years ago I used to have discussions/debates online with a Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod minister. He was a missionary serving in Russia at the time. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy, (and in fact I’m sure he was).

    At one point we got to discussing the foundations of morality. He trotted out the old line that God has inscribed the distinction between right and wrong in our hearts — though we need to “fine tune” our understanding by consulting the Bible. I pointed out to him that hundreds of thousands of American slaveholders had not had it inscribed in their hearts that slavery was wrong, and that they had been able to do a darned good job of “defending” the morality of slavery by scriptural prooftexting.

    So I asked this fellow: “Is slavery a sin?” It was a question that he was reluctant to answer. When I pressed him, he finally responded by saying that, while he was personally glad that slavery in this country was gone, he could find nothing in the Bible to suggest that slavery was sinful. My response was that any theory of morality that did not point to the conclusion that it was wrong for one human being to hold another in bondage was a theory that was obviously in need of more work.

  • Ed

    I’m waiting to hear other Christians denounce these people and their beliefs.

    So far, nothing.

    Oh come on Hemant! That is over the top. There are millions of Christians who would denounce this type of behavior and you know it. Do you think David Hayward for example, supports it? If he and the millions of others out there who haven’t denounced this specific example because they have not heard about it yet, they certainly have spoken out against other similar examples.

  • http://pinkydead.blogspot.com David McNerney

    I think you must be making this up.

    This couldn’t be true.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant

    Oh come on Hemant! That is over the top. There are millions of Christians who would denounce this type of behavior and you know it.

    Could I have rephrased it? Yes. It it over the top? Not really. I agree that there are millions of Christians who denounce this behavior. I know a bunch of them myself.

    At the same time, many of the same Christians belong to churches which don’t believe women should hold the same leadership roles as men. Their pastors may not denounce the church’s decision while giving a sermon, while they may do so privately. There’s a big difference.

    While I’m sure most people won’t hear about this story, surely many Lutheran churches will. And surely many churches in Wisconsin will. Let’s hear *those* pastors tell their congregations how ashamed they are that this group of people call themselves Christian. Let’s hear what they’re doing to make sure women have a voice in their church.

  • mikespeir

    I’ll concede that, Jeff. It’s the very essence of Poe.

  • andyinsdca

    @Angie “It’s sad that this sort of misogyny still exists in 21st century America. Sexist pigs!”

    Except that in America, these women are volunteering for this sexism. There’s no force of law holding them there in that church/organization. They can leave if they want to. But they aren’t.

    I have no sympathy for them.

  • Meg

    My aunt lives in Baraboo. Her kids (two boys who are now in their 20s) came to live in Minneapolis with us because they couldn’t take it anymore. From the two, brief, unpleasant trips I have taken to visit the town of Baraboo and my unbelievably right-wing-Christian-nutso family there, it appears to me that the whole town is a sinkhole of religious insanity. And not just one kind, ala your post- several if not many kinds of irrational, defective, detrimental thinking (and praying) take place in what is otherwise a backwater ditch outside of Madison, Wisconsin.

  • Delphine

    Every day I become a little bit more disgusted with the religious population of the world.

    Buddhists in Asia just recently disgusted me too.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Beth

    What ever happened to the parts of the bible they don’t take literally?

    And to the people who have no sympathy for the women without voices, it’s not always that easy to just walk away. There are husbands, children, and friends all in the church. Walking away could mean being ostracized from much of the community that these women are part of. Yes, walking away is a choice they have, but I am willing to bet that many of these women do not consider it to be an appropriate course of action.

    Although it is a good point to make that the women are “voluntarily” staying, it is important to remember that they are still not the ones most at fault. We can’t excuse this kind of sexism just because the women are not actively fighting it.

    Personally, I have a lot of pity for men who are so afraid/hating of women that they must keep them even from voting on church matters. It must suck to fear losing all that undeserved power. *sarcasm*

  • http://lippard.blogspot.com/ Jim Lippard

    In addition to the 1 Timothy verses MiketheInfidel pointed out, they’re also following 1 Corinthians 14:34-35:

    The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.

  • GribbletheMunchkin

    In a nation like Saudi Arabia, this is vile behaviour. In a nation like the USA, its franly bizarre. These women have the ability to leave this situation. Churches are voluntary organisations. This church is clearly led by bigots. Leave.

    Some of them are married with kids. If their husband thinks that they should shut up and follow his rules, then this is not a marriage worth saving. Leave. Take the kids with you.

    I feel sorry for the women involved but until they up and leave, nothing will change. Asking bigots to be less bigoted doesn’t work. You have to force them. MLK forced white America to shut the hell up and listen to him, Emelie Pankhurst forced the British to shut and listen to her and the French rather effectively shut up their nobility and forced them to change. If these women continue to attend these churches, they lend them defacto authority to be bigots. They need to leave.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    It’s strange, the ELCA (the biggest branch of American Lutherans) is very liberal for a church, while the next two branches (WELS and LCMS) are extremely conservative.

    A lot of WELS churches are in small towns, so there is not a lot of choice involved. I have relatives that go to a WELS church, because it is the only protestant church in town. The other church is a catholic. Ironically, in the small town (<200 people) there is a railroad track that runs through the town in the middle. Catholics live on one side, and Lutherans on the other. Both claim that the other side lives on the wrong side of the the tracks.

    Squatchtract

  • Ed

    While I’m sure most people won’t hear about this story, surely many Lutheran churches will. And surely many churches in Wisconsin will. Let’s hear *those* pastors tell their congregations how ashamed they are that this group of people call themselves Christian. Let’s hear what they’re doing to make sure women have a voice in their church.

    I agree that would be great, thanks for revising your statement.

  • The Other Tom

    I think someone should send these women a copy of Lysistrata.

  • http://seangill-insidemyhead.blogspot.com/ SeanG

    @hoverfrog: Don’t you Americans have equality laws?

    Well, yes we do. But religious organizations are exempt from almost all of them.

  • Barbara_K

    Good for the women who are pulling their kids out of that school! So nice to see them bonding together, they need each other.

    I was raised and confirmed in WELS. WELS is not a mainstream Lutheran church, although it does have many churches worldwide (I live in San Francisco now and there is a WELS church within easy driving distance, 30 miles or so). I doubt very strongly that any other Lutheran denomination would care very much what WELS does, it’s recognized that their viewpoint is fundamentalist (the Bible is the “inerrant word of God”). Leaving the church sounds like such a simple thing to do in a comment section, but when your entire life revolves around a particular church, as it does with so many WELS members, leaving the church means leaving behind, literally, everything you know. I’m really proud of my mom for basically getting herself excommunicated from the church for eventually leaving, but at the same time she had our full support. It’s heartening to see that the vote was so close, I strongly doubt it would have been 20 years ago. And I love the idea of the women banding together, they’re going to need each other if they’re to make any significant changes to the church, or leave en masse. I wouldn’t hold your breath for that change to happen though.

    One more thing that I always like to point out when this comes up – WELS is the church with which Michele Bachmann is affiliated.

  • Miko

    Of course, if they knew the church’s policies were anti-women for so long, I wonder why they would enroll their children in the church-affiliated religious school in the first place — or even be part of the church.

    Because systems of oppression are designed so that it’s easier to go with the flow: the things you need to do to get by in daily life are the exact opposite of the things you need to do to improve your condition.

    I thought the women’s suffrage movement was successful in the US in 1920. I guess that this news hasn’t reached the Lutherans yet.

    Yeah, it affected state and federal elections. What a church does is thankfully not covered. Also not covered: CEOs of corporations are allowed to make decisions without consulting the janitors that work for the company. All private institutions get to decide their own leadership structure; some may be good and some may be bad, but the Voting Rights Act has nothing to do with it.

    Don’t you Americans have equality laws? Perhaps Hartwig’s own daughter feels discriminated against due to her gender and might feel compelled to take this to court. Given the result John Hartwig can certainly demonstrate a financial loss as an indirect result of discriminatory practices.

    First, it’s worth noting that all laws are just words on pieces of paper. The way rights really work is we assume that we have them and we see whether we were right when we see what actions we take when they try to take them away. In this case, Hartwig has no case. The church had a charter detailing the procedures for firing an employee and acting (I assume) in accordance with those procedures. All church members knew what those procedures were and still voluntarily attended the church. Ditto church employees. Absolutely no wrongdoing on the part of the church. Pigheadedness, yes.

    Anyway, government intervention is totally useless (as well as being immoral in this situation, as in most). Looking at previous civil rights movements (I’m using the term generically–not just the CRM but all crm’s), the government was at best no where to be found and more typically sending police to beat up the demonstrators. We’d need to be in a sorry state indeed to want the government to protect our civil rights. Luckily, there’s an even better strategy that always works: it’s called direct action. Don’t try to change laws designed to protect the power of the elite; change your behavior so that those in power have no choice but to do what you want. And taking children out of the church school is the first step in a direct action campaign. I wish them well, and more importantly I wish them intellectual strength and solidarity, because if they stick with this tactic they will win, and if they somehow try to involve the government to assert their rights, they will lose and lose big.

  • http://universalheretic.wordpress.com/ Victor

    Neon Genesis, the sentiment is not only in 1 Timothy, but it’s also in 1 Corinthians (14:34-35), which is considered to be genuine Paul:

    “women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.”

    Looks pretty clear to me.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/6TMWGADCHW3VVQNLI3PRTGFSRY Cynthia

      Yes, Victor, Paul does say that women are to remain silent in the churches. But, Paul was a human being, and, as such, was prone to error. I’d say this was one of his off days. Please recall that Jesus often spoke with women, encouraging them to focus on spirituality above housework or instructing them to tell the world about his resurrection. I don’t recall his ever instructing women to fill out 3″ x 5″ cards and pass them out to their men folk if they wanted to ask questions or to spread the good news.

      • Tim meber of WELS

        Hey honey, not Paul, But God who said it! God breathed!! Know your facts before you start running your mouth.

  • http://beingskeptical.wordpress.com/ skepticalProgrammer

    I grew up WELS Lutheran, and it didn’t seem that there were any unusually (for a church) strong anti-women’s rights views expressed (as compared to the Presbyterian and Methodist churches). I must have been lucky to have attended a more forward thinking church.

  • Blitzgal

    This is extremely disturbing. My mother goes to a Lutheran church near Madison and I was actually kind of impressed to see some of the literature she was bringing home from the seminars that they put on. They actually have a full faith effort to teach about other religions, including Islam, and not from a “they’re heathens going to Hell” perspective. It seemed quite progressive to me. She must be going to a different branch of the denomination — I don’t know how all of that works.

  • Greg

    To the people who have no sympathy with the women for staying in the church – have you never heard of peer pressure?

    Why do you think bullying happens, not just in schools, but in workplaces, and other ‘adult’ environments?

    Why do you think movements start to snowball, rather than everyone jumping on them at once? Why exactly does it take a large group of people to do something to make people also want to do it?

    Humans are social animals. These women would risk losing their entire social community. They may even risk losing their families. They may have never been in a situation where they have been an outcast, and they are scared stiff of the possibility, or they may know all too well about it. There isn’t a magic age where you leave ‘childhood’ and enter ‘adulthood’ and suddenly you are capable of making tough decisions like these, and coping with all of the repercussions.

    Maybe you guys are fine with all that – maybe some of you have even gone through the process. Maybe some of you simply haven’t got a clue what it would feel like to be in that position but just like to think you’d act one way or another.

    Everyone’s different. Some people are better at music than others, some people are better at business, some people are better at standing up for themselves, some at making new friends, and socialising. Maybe these people you’re dismissing can do things you would shy away from, just in a different discipline.

    Mini rant over. Sorry.

  • JJ

    @Greg: *thunderous applause* Exactly. No need to apologize for the mini rant–I think it’s exactly what this discussion needed.

    I would also add to your comment, though, that it would serve everyone to look up benevolent sexism and think about that for a while. In exchange for playing into this patriarchical practice, these women may be getting rewarded with warmth and affection from church members and the surrounding community. For women in environments similar to this, it isn’t always easy to recognize sexism as sexism because you feel as if you are being rewarded or are receiving loving protection in exchange for your behavior.

    Then again, this may go right over the heads of those so willing to blame these women. I agree that they could (and should try) to do something, but the psychological climate is far more complex than outsiders may realize. It’s almost akin to the argument of how abducted children are obviously the ones to blame because they didn’t run away. You victim-blamers should be ashamed of yourself.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @Greg,
    You make a valid point. This isn’t Saudi, but isolated pockets of our society may as well be. I can understand how some people may be so caught up in their church community that they honestly feel as if they have no alternatives. However, I can only excuse this idiocy insofar as it might effect an adult’s self-esteem or psychological well-being. Once the laws of the land are being violated, that’s a deal breaker for me and I say that the transgressors need to be held accountable.

  • Killer Bee

    The women who didn’t have a voice at the meeting said they hope they’re heard loud and clear next year when they move their children to public school.

    Of course, if they knew the church’s policies were anti-women for so long

    A lot of women get off on the traditional, subservient role-playing; at least until they don’t find it fun anymore and the self-righteousness becomes stale fodder.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Religion should not be able to trump the law of the land. It should not be one rule for the church and another for the rest of society. Surely separation of church and state does not exempt the church from living in accordance with the rules of the state.

    We have a saying on this side of the pond: “Only in America.” Then we shake our heads and go back to our tea and crumpets.

  • KeithLM

    Greg, just because I have no sympathy for these people does not mean I dismiss them outright. Just because one of these people might be able to do something I can’t do doesn’t mean a damn thing in this context.

    In the past year or two there was a kid who was getting suspended from his private school for going to a dance at another school. He knew the rules of the school and agreed to them, and then there was this public outcry because he was being punished. It was his own damn fault.

    Peer pressure, bullying, whatever, it’s all excuses. This is a private church, it can have whatever backwards rules it wants. If these women want change they have to force it themselves or leave the church. If it’s such a small community that that is all there is holding them there, well then move.

    This is a free country. If people choose to let themselves be subjugated, whether it’s at a church or an S&M club, well that is their right. But I’m not going to feel sorry for them either way.

  • KeithLM

    hoverfrog, isn’t it in your country that some politicians have put forth the idea of allowing sharia law to supplant the law of the land for those that want it? And are you saying that the churches there can’t hire who they want? Could an atheist expect to be given equal consideration as a catholic for a religious position at a catholic church?

  • http://twitter.com/Laviniaserpent LaviniaSerpent

    That church probably dominates the social functions of everyone for miles around. It’s easy for atheists of independant means, especially ones with internet access, to ask these women to simply speak up or walk out.

    If Humanists want to help, they need to either get into the church business or find a tax exempt way to move people into areas where they won’t be pariahs.

  • Erp

    @hoverfrog Even in your country I suspect the Roman Catholic church makes it decisions via an all male hierarchy and with the top male making the most important decisions (not even a vote).

    @blitzgal I suspect your mother goes to an ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) which is the most liberal of the major Lutheran denominations. Last year they approved ordaining ministers who were in monogamous same-sex relationships. Women have been ministers since the 1970′s (ELCA didn’t exist back then, the churches that merged to form it did so no definite date).

    Unlike Episcopalian or Catholic congregations, Lutheran congregations are self contained. The congregations with buildings/land can walk away from the denomination if they disagree with its policies (hence splits and mergers seem to be fairly common). This is also true with Baptists.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    KeithLM, it was Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams who suggested we allow Sharia law but the point is well made. As for the atheist employment position in a Catholic church our Equality Bill (the one that the Pope has recently said he is going to speak out against when he visits later this year) does allow for equal consideration in employment. It also protects against discrimination on the grounds of religion.

    That said the actions of religionists and legislators in England are irrelevant to my criticisms of the actions of the Lutheran church in Wisconsin. They are unrelated although I must admit to a degree of bias for my own nation. ;) If I’ve come across as over critical of the US then I apologise.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Erp, I dare say you are correct although it is really the Anglican Church of England that has its base in England. That doesn’t make them right either.

  • Tracy

    The view of MikeTheInfidel mirrors my own.

    While we, as atheists, might appeal to the intellect of our more progressive Christian friends, when the text they swear their allegiance to reveals such a black and white moral compass, what choice is there. . . for them OR for us?

    Aristotle’s Law of Identity: A is A

    Simple as that.

  • Tina

    i find it absolutely ludicrous that anyone woman or man would allow there-selves to be treated as such, or allow someone else to treat them in this manner… and for those who say it is a religious belief its there choice… bullshit you will note how it is ALWAYS the women in these situations who are degraded and treated like they are useless, never the men… this isn’t gods word this is just another attempt by human men to keep women down and for that matter..I don’t care if it is gods word.. any god that thinks a woman is inferior to a man is NOT a god i want to worship… any god that condones violence to prove a point i will not honor, any god who calls us his children but tells us we will burn in a fiery pits of hell for not following his every word i wont worship… you can believe all you want but at some point you have to make a stand morally on what you will or will not do or put someone else through.. what is right and what is wrong and it is just plain wrong to treat another human being as less then ones self and it is morally wrong to commit acts of violence against another human being!

  • muggle

    hoverfrog, you still gave me a sudden longing for tea and crumpets even though I’m not 100% sure what a crumpet is.

    (Hmm, muggle runs off to do a quick google and the image version gives me pics of what looks a lot like what we call English muffins over here, which she loves. Anyone know if they’re different? Neber mind. Another google says that Thomas, whom I have brand loyalty to, invented a toaster crumpet and hence the English muffin. Learn something every day. I do like tea and crumpets. Often my breakfast on weekends. Mmmm.)

    Rant about English muffins over (I’m dieting, does it show), that’s the drawback of church and state. Church all too often hides behind it and exempts itself from its crimes with screams of religious freedom. You’ve seen posts here on how children are prayed to death. It literally takes lives.

    It’s also made religion flourish so that it’s reached the rabid forms of it we have here across the pond from you. Sometimes, in weak moments, I think we’d be better off without since countries like yours with a state church seem to be one hell of a lot more atheistic.

    Then something in me rebels at the idea. Sigh, I guess I’m an American rebel. Sometimes I think we Americans alo value rebellion too highly — but then I get into a fight about something or other and cherish my right to rebel.

    Freedom is wonderful but it’s often also freaking nuts. Wouldn’t trade it for all the tea in China (or England as may be the case) even though you seem rather free over there and don’t have so much annoying religiousity.

  • http://universalheretic.wordpress.com/ Victor

    “The women who didn’t have a voice at the meeting said they hope they’re heard loud and clear next year when they move their children to public school.”

    I really don’t understand why this move isn’t immediate. By postponing it they are only showing tolerance of the church’s behavior, as well as allowing their children to be taught more misogynistic messages.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Beth

    @ Greg, thank you. You took the words right out of my…keyboard, and you said it better than I did.

    @ Killer Bee, women most certainly do not “get off” on being subservient. As a woman, I happen to know that we have no autonomous sex drives or desires. All of our sexual identity is derived from our husbands, our god, and our intense universal desire to overpopulate the earth with good christian soldiers.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    muggle, a state church does seem to have made us less religious (or maybe all the religious loonies were deported hundreds of years ago ;)) but many times I wish for a separation from church and state. Like times when the aforementioned AoC Rowan Williams or the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, get to have a say in our legislature because they are members of the House of Lords. The Lords Spiritual (all 26 of them) can swing a vote to reject a law that they don’t like. They haven’t been voted in and don’t represent anyone except their god. I hate that.

    There are also things like compulsory religious education in our state schools. We are supposed to have daily worship in an assembly but most schools ignore it and no-one enforces it. There is nothing to prevent a faith school from being publicly funded and Tony Blair set up more than a few. We’ve even got creationist schools and no defence against them except for open mockery.

    We also don’t have “freedom”. There is no guaranteed freedom of speech unless you are an MP in Parliament, no guaranteed freedom of the press and no protection if the law lords decide to make an oppressive law. Of course we all act as if we have these freedoms and nobody stops us but it still isn’t enshrined in a constitution.

    I bet your grass is greener too.

    Well, it doesn’t matter where we are in the world, it seems that religion has a stake in our lives. It is our job to repeat over and over that we’re not interested and would they very much mind getting out of the way.

  • GribbletheMunchkin

    As a fellow crumpet munching Limey (or pommie to our Australian brothers) i concur with his thoughts. We really do need to get rid of the Lords Spiritual.

    About the shariah law thing. It was only for matters of arbitration, for which both sides would need to agree to its use. Jewish arbitration courts are already in use here. I personnally believe this to be the thin edge of the wedge though, especially given the lack of respect to women in islam, its easy to see how a woman could be coerced into going the shariah route and getting screwed over due to her gender. Also, allowing any religious court only gives credence to the notion that these religions have something to offer, a view thats yet to be proved as far as i can see.

    I attended a church of England primary school and we all sung hymns for assembly, at that age i had no idea what was going on, but in all, most English education is very secular. Apart from those ridiculous faith schools. Those need to go too.

  • http://govfreak.wordpress.com/ Govfreak

    Please click to my blog on this issue http://govfreak.wordpress.com/

    I am a WELS woman who is working within to change this for all women. Believe me, this is not indicative of all WELS churches. Many allow women to participate, vote, serve on boards, run schools, counsel men, etc. The WELS is a young church body, only 150 years old and until the 1950′s many congregations were still operating in German. We have come a long way in 60 years. Much of what this story is about is the pastor’s viewpoint. As an example, when I attended a WELS high school, we were not allowed to have proms or dances, because the board of control (made up by pastors) felt it was sinful and led to fornication. Two years after I graduated, the policy was changed with new voices and eyes on the board. This to will change, it just changes slower in some places.

    BTW – I’m not a barefoot, pregnant woman of the WELS. I am college educated, work as a reporter for a progressive e-zine in Milwaukee, have served as a city alderperson, president of a public library system and chair of the education committee in my WELS congregation. I have opinions and people in the WELS know it and don’t tell me to be quiet.

    • Zach

       Then you’re not WELS, seem more LCMS……

  • Steven Mading

    WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod) is had a church near where I had one of my first jobs as a college teenager way back when. I worked at a restaurant in Menomonie Falls, WI. These were the people who could always be counted on on sundays to come in in giant numbers, taking up all the tables with their giant families, and then dropping off Jack Chick tracts as “tips” (instead of real tips).

    Not that I have much to say on the issue, other than to point out that they think Jack Chick tracts are a reasonable way to preach to the unconverted, so that gives you some idea of their mentality. Even the religious people who worked in the restaurant scoffed at their silly tracts and we usually traded them around at the end of the shift for a good laugh. (I even got a copy of the famous D&D one “oh no, they killed Black leaf!” from that job.)

  • Steven Mading

    @Victor: They are near the end of the school year in the US. There’s less than 2 months left. It would be messy for the children to make a move now at this late stage – that’s probably why.

  • Eiolg

    The women can “let” the men vote on all the issues and then “let” the men do all the work such as clean the church, serve coffee, wash the dishes, teach Sunday School, be in the choir, etc. The women can always take the stand that they didn’t get to vote on something, so therefore they don’t have to support it. It would be different if they did vote and were in the minority.

    They could also “let” the men get the kids up on Sunday morning and get them dressed and to church all by themselves. I bet that if the women took such a stance it wouldn’t be long before the men would be looking to the women for more support and input.

  • muggle

    hoverfrog, thank you. You’re right. Except for the grass. Don’t know about England but I’ve seen pics of Ireland. Man, it ain’t called the Emerald Island for nothing.

    Lately, though, as you know from this board and the news etc., the religious reich has been having way too much power and that line is blurring and has been for a couple of decades.

    Now we just have to get us back to the Constitution. So outspoken moms like me can raise a stink whenever religion’s snuck into their child’s circulum.

  • 1984

    “Women should not be enlightened or educated in any way. They should, in fact, be segregated as they are the cause of hideous and involuntary erections in holy men.”
    – St. Augustine

    Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
    -Paul [I Corinthians 14:34-35]

  • 1972

    I’m just in amazement by the lack of respect. Respect not only to others here, but first and foremost, God.

    I suppose we should rewrite the Bible? Maybe make it a little more “politically correct”? Come on people…..Look in to your hearts as if God was standing right in front of you! Please…. Everyone is certainly entitled to his or her opinion, and their life as they see fit. But, if we are to call Christians, shouldn’t we follow what CHRIST has to say? Otherwise I guess we shouldn’t follow Christ. Maybe Joe our neighbor?? He’s a smart guy! Yet, we tend to IGNORE that fact we aren’t FOLLOWING God. Maybe some feel God won’t notice, or I know better than God. To each his/her own.

    So really, as I see it — your arguments here are really arguments to God himself. WELS didn’t write the Bible. But they are one of the few organized religions that don’t bend to be “politically correct.” They don’t skip the “hard parts” just because. And thank God for that! We certianly don’t have to agree with God – Everyone has a choice. But in who’s interest is all of this in? Yours, or the one who sent his son to die for our sins? Maybe we should spend more time deciding who we are REALLY following. God, ourselves, or the world? Sounds to me as WELS has the right focus.

    God’s blessing to all here. I pray he helps everyone find peace in His love. And respect for his Word. ALL OF IT.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    1972, respect is earned through action. Gods, being imaginary, take no action and deserve no respect. Religious people do take action and it is on those actions that they gain and lose the respect of others.

  • 1972

    @Hoverfrog: That’s correct. My respect goes to God. Your respect goes to yourself or perhaps others as well. I respect the fact that you actually respected my opinion just as I do yours.

    We all have choices. If gaining the respect of others includes disprecting my God, then I cannot call my self a Christian. Humans, or most I should say spend a lot of time trying to please others by changing themselves to fit what they feel is demanded of them. In doing that, they loose respect for themselves along the way. Other choose to stand firm, but expect others or even God to change for THEIR needs. Those are the people that I feel the worst for. They seem to be stuck in the middle somewhere. Between God and the world.

    But then as human nature takes it course, we begin to blame everyone around us for our problems that we (ourself) have really created. Because we are not truely at peace. And then never ending race begins searching and looking for it, or trying to change ourselves or others begins.

    When if we would just listen to our conscience – trust in what we believe in to the FULLEST extent – we find peace. I’m speaking for all beliefs. Beliefs in God. Beliefs in no God as some choose. Just do what feels right in your heart/conscience and you begin to live in your belief and what choose as your god. I have chosen God, or I should say – he choose me and I choose to listen. Paul wrote in his letter to the Phillipians this:” And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” It took me years to understand or “grasp” that. Until I just started to listen and live. It is an UNDESCRIBABLE peace that I have found.

    I certainly wish others can find that same kind of peace in their choices. Again, no disrespect to those and their choices. But rather a request that we truely examine what we each do individually. And be true to it at the fullest extent.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    That’s interesting 1972. I think that you have to remember that gods don’t exist to be disrespected. At least from my point of view. I can no more disrespect Jesus than I can disrespect Frodo Baggins. What I can lose respect for is the actions of adherents to a faith that show them to be sexist bigots. If you choose to interpret this as an insult to your deity then so be it. The truth is though that deities don’t even come into it, just the actions of people.

    When if we would just listen to our conscience – trust in what we believe in to the FULLEST extent – we find peace. I’m speaking for all beliefs. Beliefs in God. Beliefs in no God as some choose.

    Funny, a Buddhist might say that it is letting go of that belief that brings peace. Personally I found peace through acceptance of reality, compassion for my fellow life form and and acceptance of the transience of life. To each his own, eh.

  • Lisa

    One of the purposes of religion is to control people, their thoughts and behaviors. When a church cannot control a person’s behavior, the group often ostracizes the person until the person parts company or concedes and submits.

    The WELS church still exists, but the congregation near my home is dying on the vine. With the death of the next generation, if the church doesn’t radically change, it will die, too. One can only hope.

    The dark ages are behind us, along with menstruating on a mat in an isolated tent. Praise God. Shalom.

  • Marie

    Let’s not forget that men wrote the bible. The whole book of Genesis was written with the intention of blaming females for the “fate of humanity” and establishing man’s dominion over woman so that they could be kept in their place by men.The only way that this will change is if the women in the church fight against it. Unfortunately, I know a few of them and they quite happily accept their position. I just don’t get it.

    • Tim, Member of the WELS

      Stop spreading your liberal crap and lies! It says in Genesis (if you had read it, you would know) that Adam was more at fault in the eyes of the Lord! When Adam saw she was eating it,,he should have stopped her and asked her to repent. But instead He ate it as well. The lord also commanded that man ought Love his wife just as Christ loved the church, but you women don’t mind getting that love and support now do you?! You obviously are just some ignorant agitator who does not know what in the blazes SHE is talking about!

  • Chrissy

    We all call ourselves “christians”, acting as close to resemble Jesus Christ’s behavior. Yet, we have forgotten his message of love, and kindness entirely. When will we all realize, we can not be just like Jesus. He was God’s ability to send us a beacon of love and hope. Yet, humanity takes all love and hope and perverts it. Luckly, through God’s grace and our faith he forgives us. So, let us try harder to be kind and loving to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ; rather than being the “correct christian”.

  • Dennison

    The reporting on this story stunk from the start.  Sensationalism was clearly used in hope of forcing change at the church.  Everyone was allowed to speak at an earlier meeting that same week, and almost twelve hours of debate and comments was allowed.  When is enough enough?  It was time to vote, and during that time, comments were limited to voters only, leaving the women and guest visitors out of the loop.  The meeting was announced as being a meeting for voters only, so this should have come as no surprise.  But it apparently surprised people anyway, when the meeting was run by the posted rules.  The principal was terminated for not following direction, repeatedly, which he admitted.  No other organization would have allowed him to go so far with insubordination, like distributing literature contrary to the organization’s directions.  And this is a “called” individual, a very special person in a church organization.  If that continued, as in any organization, it will create chaos.  The correct decision was made, though today’s politically correct world will not understand it, for sure.  Religion is very personal, though, and each person needs to respect the belief of the other–key word being respect.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/6TMWGADCHW3VVQNLI3PRTGFSRY Cynthia

      No, each person does not need to respect the belief of the other; each person needs to respect the other person, but not necessarily his or her beliefs…especially when those beliefs claim that in heaven above God views men and women as equals, but here on earth, men have authority over women.

  • http://americancolleen.tumblr.com/ Colleen R.W

    Ah yes, the church I was raised in. Or the synod. Whatevs. Fuck ‘em.

    • Jay

      Amen, brother!!

  • Confused@church

    My church does the same thing.  Actually mine is branched from wisconsin.  Women are not allowed to ever vote at church and they are not allowed to speak in front of the congregation.  We give our money and time, yet they do not want our opinion.  It is an opinion of what the bible says, which is basically that women should not have leadership responsibilities in the church (according to my church).  Someone I know was in the room when a vote was being done, and she raised her hand..the pastor responded by saying, “Men Only! No Women!”  This is very aggravating to me and I have spent a lot of time trying to understand why my church believes this is Gods Word..I have yet to see proof…

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/6TMWGADCHW3VVQNLI3PRTGFSRY Cynthia

      I think the women in this congregation should don hot pink leather face muzzles and wear them to service. After all, you can’t trust those pesky womyn–always gossiping, always questioning the theology of the pastor during the service. A sturdy face muzzle will ensure that no matter what rebellious thoughts flash into their pretty little heads, the contraption will ensure that they remain silent, not exert authority, and never teach men.  

    • Tim, member of the WELS synod

      Why do you insist on forcing your beliefs and opinions down everyones throats? There are how many Christian churches in this wonderful country, and you pick one of the only ones that goes against what you believe. YOu speak of respect for all men and women, and you are disrespecting the beliefs of others yourself! you are a hypocrite, and if you don’t like it and disagree with their beliefs, then you need to leave and stop trying to force everyone to do what you want!. I do not show up at your house and tell you what to do, so stop trying to force your womens lib crap down everyones throat, and let us have our freedom too! No one is holding you hostage.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/6TMWGADCHW3VVQNLI3PRTGFSRY Cynthia

    I find it completely ironic: in the upper left hand corner of this web page is an ad for Epic Church in San Francisco (where I live).  Epic Church is a recent Southern Baptist church planting (you know the Southern Baptists, the religious folk who just decided in 1998 that women must submit to their husbands, and are not allowed to hold authority over men. In fact, a long time female Hebrew professor at the Southern Baptist Seminary was then given the boot because they suddenly realized that a woman teaching men theology was unbiblical). 

    It seems that Epic Church has paid for a localized ad on a popular athiest web site to entice us heathen non-believers in San Francisco back to Jeeeesus. Just out of curiosity, do ads for local churches/ or religious organizations appear on other people’s webpages?

    The Southern Baptist Convention has made it a priority to plant conservative churches in liberal cities such as San Francisco and New York.  They’re crazy determined, organized, flush with cash, and reproducing like bunnies.  What do we have to counteract their influence? Not much. Southern Baptists and other conservative Christians are sending their children to religious schools or homeschooling their children using patriarchal curriculum, building separate religious colleges, and creating a counter religious culture. 

    I think we need to consider their intentions to take over the culture very seriously.

  • Anna

    I recently found out that the Lutheran school up the street is affiliated with WELS. I knew that it was Lutheran and had always assumed that it was relatively harmless, maybe like an Episcopal school. I had no idea they were fundamentalist creationists with such terrible anti-woman teachings.


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