Why the “Taliban” Title?

by Cindy Foster (Baptist Taliban)

I was strolling down the aisles at Sam’s Wholesale Club one day about a year or so after leaving the church, and in the book aisle I noticed a book written by a woman from Afghanistan.  It was obvious from the cover that she was Muslim.  I picked it up and began looking it over as I do with any book that catches my interest.  I turned it over to read the back cover and was instantly captivated by what I read. There written, was a list of rules imposed on women under the Taliban regime.

Of course, since it was Post- 911, all eyes were on the Muslim ways and on the terrorists- sympathizing countries, so a book such as this one would capture anyone’s interest, but my interest was more of one who could empathize.  Smitten by the thought that I could identify so well with a woman who lived under such an oppressive religion, the idea to write about my own “oppressive religion” experience was born.

The pain and confusion of rejection and the realization that it was not going to change was something I was just beginning to accept, and I was still trying to filter what I truly believed from what I just “accepted” as truth.   There it was– a clear correlation between a religion that controlled by terror, and the church to which we had been so dedicated.  This was my defining moment.  This was when I began to realize the full truth about the belief system to which we had become enslaved.

We were Baptists.  We were proud of it.  Being Baptist became as important an identity to us as being Christian.  To employ the word “Taliban” would give one the immediate sense of oppression and devastation– a fitting portrayal in this case.    The Taliban “lops off the heads” of the infidels—the ones who aren’t Muslim.   This Baptist church “lops off the spiritual heads “—the foundations from where the faith of many were built.  When the very ones who introduced them to faith in Jesus Christ become “spiritual terrorists” what is likely to become of their “faith”? You could say it is offended, sabotaged….even “beheaded”.   So, I put the two together…….

The word “Taliban” actually means- to seek, a seeker of knowledge, but it has more recently come to mean-a seeker of religious truth.   My “Baptist Taliban” church is similarly a “seeker of religious truth” that is very “religious” yet very far from the Truth.

The following is an article I copied from the internet that gives information about how women are viewed under the Taliban and some of the Taliban rules.  It is important to note how many of the rules apply to women:


The following list offers only an abbreviated glimpse of the hellish lives Afghan women are forced to lead under the Taliban, and cannot begin to reflect the depth of female deprivations and sufferings. Taliban treat women worse than they treat animals. In fact, even as Taliban declare the keeping of caged birds and animals illegal, they imprison Afghan women within the four walls of their own houses. Women have no importance in Taliban eyes unless they are occupied producing children, satisfying male sexual needs or attending to the drudgery of daily housework. Jehadi fundamentalists such as Gulbaddin, Rabbani, Masood, Sayyaf, Khalili, Akbari, Mazari and their co-criminal Dostum have committed the most treacherous and filthy crimes against Afghan women. And as more areas come under Taliban control, even if the number of rapes and murders perpetrated against women falls, Taliban restrictions –comparable to those from the middle ages– will continue to kill the spirit of our people while depriving them of a humane existence. We consider Taliban more treacherous and ignorant than Jehadis. According to our people, “Jehadis were killing us with guns and swords but Taliban are killing us with cotton.”




Taliban restrictions and mistreatment of women include the: 1- Complete ban on women’s work outside the home, which also applies to female teachers, engineers and most professionals. Only a few female doctors and nurses are allowed to work in some hospitals in Kabul. 2- Complete ban on women’s activity outside the home unless accompanied by a mahram (close male relative such as a father, brother or husband). 

3- Ban on women dealing with male shopkeepers. 

4- Ban on women being treated by male doctors. 

5- Ban on women studying at schools, universities or any other educational institution. (Taliban have converted girls’ schools into religious seminaries.) 

6- Requirement that women wear a long veil (Burqa), which covers them from head to toe. 

7- Whipping, beating and verbal abuse of women not clothed in accordance with Taliban rules, or of women unaccompanied by a mahram. 

8- Whipping of women in public for having non-covered ankles. 

9- Public stoning of women accused of having sex outside marriage. (A number of lovers are stoned to death under this rule). 

10- Ban on the use of cosmetics. (Many women with painted nails have had fingers cut off). 

11- Ban on women talking or shaking hands with non-mahram males. 

12- Ban on women laughing loudly. (No stranger should hear a woman’s voice). 

13- Ban on women wearing high heel shoes, which would produce sound while walking. (A man must not hear a woman’s footsteps.) 

14- Ban on women riding in a taxi without a mahram. 

15- Ban on women’s presence in radio, television or public gatherings of any kind. 

16- Ban on women playing sports or entering a sport center or club. 

17- Ban on women riding bicycles or motorcycles, even with their mahrams

18- Ban on women’s wearing brightly colored clothes. In Taliban terms, these are “sexually attracting colors.” 

19- Ban on women gathering for festive occasions such as the Eids, or for any recreational purpose. 

20- Ban on women washing clothes next to rivers or in a public place. 

21- Modification of all place names including the word “women.” For example, “women’s garden” has been renamed “spring garden”. 

22- Ban on women appearing on the balconies of their apartments or houses. 

23- Compulsory painting of all windows, so women cannot be seen from outside their homes. 

24- Ban on male tailors taking women’s measurements or sewing women’s clothes. 

25- Ban on female public baths. 

26- Ban on males and females traveling on the same bus. Public buses have now been designated “males only” (or “females only”). 

27- Ban on flared (wide) pant-legs, even under a burqa. 

28- Ban on the photographing or filming of women. 

29- Ban on women’s pictures printed in newspapers and books, or hung on the walls of houses and shops. 

Apart from the above restrictions on women, the Taliban has: 

– Banned listening to music, not only for women but men as well. 

– Banned the watching of movies, television and videos, for everyone. 

– Banned celebrating the traditional new year (Nowroz) on March 21. The Taliban has proclaimed the holiday un-Islamic. 

– Disavowed Labor Day (May 1st), because it is deemed a “communist” holiday. 

– Ordered that all people with non-Islamic names change them to Islamic ones. 

– Forced haircuts upon Afghan youth. 

– Ordered that men wear Islamic clothes and a cap. 

– Ordered that men not shave or trim their beards, which should grow long enough to protrude from a fist clasped at the point of the chin. 

– Ordered that all people attend prayers in mosques five times daily. 

– Banned the keeping of pigeons and playing with the birds, describing it as un-Islamic. The violators will be imprisoned and the birds shall be killed. The kite flying has also been stopped. 

– Ordered all onlookers, while encouraging the sportsmen, to chant Allah-o-Akbar (God is great) and refrain from clapping. 

– Ban on certain games including kite flying which is “un-Islamic” according to Taliban. 

– Anyone who carries objectionable literature will be executed. 

– Anyone who converts from Islam to any other religion will be executed. 

– All boy students must wear turbans. They say “No turban, no education”. 

– Non-Muslim minorities must distinct badge or stitch a yellow cloth onto their dress to be differentiated from the majority Muslim population. Just like what did Nazis with Jews. 

– Banned the use of the internet by both ordinary Afghans and foreigners. 

And so on… 


The progression down the road of regulation turns in to a slippery slope that is sure to end at the sinkhole.  Why would anyone want to go there?

Comments open below

Read all posts by Cindy!

Cindy Foster is “Mom” to eight gorgeous, talented, temperamental, noisy, opinionated, alike-but very different kids. She has been married to their daddy, Paul, for 34 years. Cindy blogs at Baptist Taliban and Beyond.

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  • Madea

    Hi Cindy,

    Having been to your blog and read the posts about your experiences, I have come to the conclusion that you seem like a very nice, sincere lady who was badly hurt by the experiences your church put you through. That is so, so unfortunate, and I genuinely wish you the peace and healing of God in recovering from that.

    That said, I think this post sums up why your use of ‘Baptist Taliban’ is problematic at best and horrendously offensive at worst. By contrasting the restrictions the actual Taliban put on a whole country with what you experienced in your church, it makes the entire post seem to be coming from a place of tremendous privilege.

    I understand that it can be hard for people in spiritual abuse situations to break free because it’s a bound choice: ‘Do it our way or burn in Hell/be cut off from your support system/lose all your friends.’ It’s no doubt terribly painful and disillusioning.

    But ultimately you had choices. You could (and did, apparently) opt to walk away when things got to be too much. And your church, as damaging as what it did was, did not have the power to literally kill you for refusing to obey its dictates. Your church could not force a way of life on you that you didn’t want because it would stone you if you refused.

    Your place as a woman was tightly defined and women’s behavior was rigidly codified and enforced–but did your church have the right to refuse you basic medical care? Did it refuse to let you leave the house, even if your family was starving to death? Did it have the power to make sure your daughters never learned to read and write or your sons to learn anything except a single interpretation of Scripture?

    The rules you experienced and the massive human rights abuses perpetrated by the Taliban don’t compare. What happened to you was awful and again, I am dreadfully sorry about it. I wish you well. But please give some thought to whether the title of your writings accurately reflects the content.

  • stairway to heaven

    Your concerns Madea are understandable. When I see the rhetoric from the religious right I sometimes think that if they ”could” they ”would” when it comes to the degree of severity imposed by their twisted views. That is why their continued efforts in the political arena are so dangerous.

  • Carol

    The dominionists in the US would very much like to take these church teachings and codify them into law. The so-called small government right wing would have no problem spending untold millions investigating and imprisoning women who have miscarried, for starters.

  • Nancy B

    There is religiuous freedom in the US. However, it is becoming more and more apparent that some politicians (often supported by wealthy televangelists and their flock) are increasingly presenting platforms that sound less like traditional politics and more sermon. Should we have men and women running for office in 2012 not talking solely of jobs and infrastructure and defense but speaking of how “Un-Biblical” homosexual marriage is? Or whether birth control should be widely available or covered by insurance?

    Taliban rule came about because a leader was so uber righteous in his interpretation of Islam that he invoked that same persuasion as law. Since nearly 90% of Americans claim Christianity as their faith, it is apparent why the rumblings about gay marriage and birth control are acceptable rhetoic to many. The insistence that American needs to return to its “Christian foundation” or the comments by Rick Santorum that birth control is immoral or even Sarah Palin stating that the US needs a,”Come to Jesus moment” should horrify us all.

    For those of us raised in a Christian tradition, try to imagine a leader invoking the Torah or the Koran and crying that we can find our moral code there and only there. Or Hindu writings. Or Dianetics.

    Our founding fathers wanted Americans to be able to worship without government intervention. That goes for established religions, cults, etc. An easy way to make money the IRS cannot touch is to annoint yourself a preacher and set up a corporation. We see that more and more. The tax-exempt status concerns the un-heated church made of timber in some mountain hamlet as it does the multi-million dollar luxury church (and parsonages!) of anyone who chooses to pick up a mic and a Bible.

    Our Founding Fathers also knew that we would not, COULD not, have a government ruled by religious ideology. There are too many interpretations, too many faiths, too many people with no religious leanings at all. They, too, are Americans.

    When it is pointed out that the US government has no place advising its citizens about religious morality the Christian Right quickly yells,”Christian bashing!” In fact they do this quite a lot. And it makes them look obnoxious, petty, prideful and pitiful. A big box store selling Chinese-made Christmas ornaments is boycotted for the shame of calling evergreens,”HOLIDAY trees”! Oh the horror. Oh the poor Christians. Well, it’s practically Kristallnacht!
    But the US government is for us ALL. The believers, the atheists, the gay, the morose. Birth control is a medical issue, marriage licenses are forms issued by the government to those of age or signed for by a parents. Gay Americans should be entitled to those forms as well, even if your church thinks its a horrid idea.

    Imagine Jews wanting to outlaw pork and shellfish. Or Muslims wanting to outlaw western dress. Or Mormons wanting to outlaw coffee or Hindus wantimg to outlaw beef. OR imagine the US government forcing said meat and coffee down their throughts. HERE? In America we are free to worship as we choose…

    Or NOT to worship. Your scripture, their scripture, anyone’s holy text. Because we are supposed to be free.

    Remember, Madea, that there are long, storied histories to places like Afghanistan, Iran, Libya, etc. Folks are not being forced into heinous restrictions as a matter of re-finding their faith tradition. Religious dogma passed into law either catches their citizens unawares, or slowly encroaches their lives like the proverbial frog in a beaker who doesn’t realize he is boiling to death. Anywhere there is ae religious majority things may shift to power. Because the USA is a young country we don’t realize we are vulnerable.

    And, apropos of nothing, I have the feeling, Madea, that you are actually a male. If I’m incorrect forgive me.

  • alfaretta

    Please remember that Afghanistan has been living under conditions of war since at least 1980 when the USSR invaded. Destabilization of this kind causes a power vacuum and makes extreme solutions more attractive.

    Considering the horrendous rhetoric already coming from our Religious Right, how long do you think the U.S. would take to become nearly this oppressive under the same conditions?

  • Madea

    Hi Nancy B,

    I appreciate the point you’re making, I do. My issue with the post is not the idea of their (potentially) being an American Taliban. I agree that there is a significant, troubling and organized moment in this country toward extreme religious conservatism, and that we have to fight it with every possible legal and social resource we have.

    My problem is the use of that title in this particular circumstance, to describe the actions of this particular group. Again, I agree what happened to Cindy is horrible. She seems very nice and she was poorly used.

    But I stick by my assertion that the use of the ‘Taliban’ moniker in this instance is misplaced. I was not addressing the societal currents that created this particular incident but just the incident itself. If I was not clear, I apologize.

    And to address your last point, no, I’m female. If anything, I think that was why I wanted to address this–because I think true feminism means that we all have the obligation to be mindful of, and sensitive too, appropriating the struggles of other women where they might not fit.