Equating religion with misogyny is bad for women and bad for religion

Who in 1965 would have dreamed that the stuff of Griswold v. Connecticut would be coming back to haunt us almost 50 years later, in a time when the parties to the original lawsuit probably imagined we would be wearing rocket belts and commuting to Mars? — Arthur Goldwag

Yesterday, Congressional Republicans organized a public hearing on women’s reproductive health.

No women were called on to testify.

No doctors were called on to testify.

And one of the old men called on to testify has vowed to never, ever have sex.

"The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. ... I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of 'conservatism.'" -- Sen. Barry Goldwater, 1981

Feminism is dead,” says Dianna Anderson, cataloging the outrages of a “rage-face inducing” day in the accelerating war on women.

This ain’t about religion. Anyone trying to sell you that line is either lying to you or else is so profoundly confused himself that he cannot distinguish between his religion and his own fear/loathing/resentment of women.

The attempt to say this is about “religious liberty” or “freedom of conscience” equates religion with misogyny. It says those two things are intrinsically inseparable. That’s bad for women and it’s bad for religion — redefining religious belief as the desire to control and dominate women.

Those men in that picture there are not religious leaders. They are religious distorters of religion. They have declared themselves to be the enemies of religion — the crooked men who would twist the church and the faith into their own crooked image, all in the name of “religious liberty.”

Frock that.

Those who love the church cannot like these men or allow them to succeed. Those who love women cannot like these men or allow them to succeed. Those are the two biggest reasons why I do not like these men and why I think it’s very, very important that they not be allowed to succeed.

(Links a-plenty and much more after the jump, including Tara McGuinness’ “Why I Wish Catholic Leaders Would Stop Saying Our Church Is Under Attack.”)

John Holbo shredded the “religious liberty” nonsense in a post titled “Religious Freedom and Contraception (among other things).” Matt Yglesias summarizes Holbo’s argument:

Start with the assumption that ObamaCare is repealed, in its entirety, tomorrow. The day after tomorrow Abdul Hussain, owner and CEO of a large private firm with 5,000 employees, announces that his firm will no longer offer employees health insurance that permits women to visit male doctors or male employees to be treated by female doctors. This is a newsworthy event, and the day after the day after tomorrow Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder both offer the opinion that this is a form of illegal discrimination and that if it’s not already illegal it should be made illegal. Will Mitch McConnell and other congressional Republicans stand up for Hussain’s “freedom of conscience” in this case?

Conservatives don’t like the Affordable Care Act and are sympathetic on the merits to the claims of those who think contraceptives or morally wrong, so in this particular case the principle of “freedom of conscience” seems appealing to them. But there’s actually nobody who endorses the general principle being invoked here.

Mark Gordon is one of many who note that this claim of religious liberty is similar to the longstanding, but unsuccessful, argument made by pacifist tax protesters.

It’s also interesting to see, as Kyle Mantyla notes, that religious right groups like the Family Research Council are now saying contraception coverage “violates the separation of church and state.” That’s strange, Mantyla says, because Tony Perkins’ organization has spent years arguing that “the separation of church and state doesn’t even exist.”

But there’s really no need to continue engaging the stupid/dishonest claim of “religious liberty” concerns, since the Republicans seeking to deny access to contraception have now abandoned that claim. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said his party’s goal is to ensure that any employer could exclude any health coverage. McConnell says this is a “First Amendment” issue.

BooMan responds, “Shut Up and Take It to Court.” McConnell won’t do that because his “religious liberty” argument is just barely substantial enough to meet the low standards of a cable news shout-fest, but he knows it would get laughed out of court.

The “religious liberty” business is meant to serve in support of the partisan political campaign inventing President Barack Obama’s “war on religion.” It’s that explicitly partisan and that explicitly dumb. As Stephanie Mencimer notes in Mother Jones, “If Obama is hell-bent on waging battle with religious institutions he sure has a funny way of showing it.”:

When it comes to religious organizations and their treatment by the federal government, the Obama administration has been extremely generous. Religious groups have benefited handsomely from Obama’s stimulus package, budgets, and other policies. Under Obama, Catholic religious charities alone have received more than $650 million, according to a spokeswoman from the US Department of Health and Human Services, where much of the funding comes from. The USCCB, which has been such a vocal critic of the Obama administration, has seen its share of federal grants from HHS jump from $71.8 million in the last three years of the Bush administration to $81.2 million during the first three years of Obama. In fiscal 2011 alone, the group received a record $31.4 million from the administration it believes is virulently anti-Catholic, according to HHS data.

Sierra of No Longer Qivering explains “Why the Birth Control Mandate Is Not About ‘Freedom of Conscience’“:

The “controversy” (which is a kind way of saying “the ruckus kicked up by the Religious Right”) is about denying “freedom of conscience” to organizations. Not people. Specifically, not women. Since when did organizations have consciences? The members of their boards of executives might have consciences, and they might agree on some things, but they emphatically cannot speak for every member or every employee of their organization.

… The truth is, this “controversy” is about the exact opposite of “freedom of conscience.” It’s about denying freedom of conscience to religious women. … [The policy] isn’t forcing women to take birth control. It’s forcing religious organizations to let women choose whether to take birth control.

… If this were really about freedom of conscience, it would be a non-issue. Women whose consciences are not bothered by birth control would be able to practice their faith according to their own relationships with God. Women who accept the Church’s teachings would similarly avoid birth control. This is about religious officials’ fear of losing control, fear that their beliefs don’t match those of their congregations, fear that people will wantonly surge toward sinful abandon if not reined in by financial constraints. It’s authoritarianism cloaked in hypocrisy.

That “fear of losing control” has been palpable in the bishops’ actions and statements over the past two weeks. It’s not just that they’ve been transparently desperate to assert their control over women, but that they haven’t even got a decent argument for doing so.

Again, I’m not saying that they haven’t got an argument that’s persuasive to non-Catholics such as myself, but that they haven’t got a credible Catholic argument in support of their position.

Here, again, is Catholic historian Garry Wills on “The Phony Contraception Argument“:

The opposition to contraception has, as I said, no scriptural basis. Pope Pius XI once said that it did, citing in his encyclical Casti Connubii (1930) the condemnation of Onan for “spilling his seed” rather than impregnating a woman (Genesis 38.9). But later popes had to back off from this claim, since everyone agrees now that Onan’s sin was not carrying out his duty to give his brother an heir (Deuteronomy 25.5-6). Then the “natural law” was fallen back on, saying that the natural purpose of sex is procreation, and any use of it for other purposes is “unnatural.” But a primary natural purpose does not of necessity exclude ancillary advantages. The purpose of eating is to sustain life, but that does not make all eating that is not necessary to subsistence “unnatural.” One can eat, beyond the bare minimum to exist, to express fellowship, as one can have sex, beyond the begetting of a child with each act, to express love.

The Roman authorities would not have fallen for such a silly argument but for a deep historical disrelish for sex itself. Early Fathers and medieval theologians considered sex unworthy when not actually sinful. That is why virgin saints and celibate priests were prized above married couples. Thomas Aquinas said that priests must not be married, since “those in holy orders handle the sacred vessels and the sacrament itself, and therefore it is proper (decens) that they preserve, by abstinences, a body undefiled (munditia corporalis) (Summa Theologiae, Part 3 Supplement, Question 53, article 3, Response). Marriage, you see, makes for defilement (immunditia). The ban on contraception is a hangover from the period when the body itself was considered unclean, as Peter Brown overwhelmingly proved in The Body and Society (1988).

But let’s pretend, for argument’s sake, that the religious “principle” of opposition to contraception wasn’t based on such regrettable silliness. Let’s stipulate that it’s a meaningful and important religious tenet.

Well, then it’s still true that the bishops are not following good Catholic reasoning. As David Gibson notes, the “Bishops’ contraception objections fail their church’s own moral reasoning.”

Shorter Gibson: If John Courtney Murray weren’t already dead, this nonsense would’ve killed him.

Mark Silk brings us a letter from a veteran priest who is appalled and embarrassed by the bishops’ baldly partisan attacks on women’s health care coverage:

I’m trying to look beyond the hyper-ventilating about “religious liberty” (poor Courtney Murray would turn over in his grave to hear this precious term used the way it is by “Fightin'” Tim Dolan and Bill Lori.)

… I don’t need Guttmacher stats to tell me that using contraceptives is not an issue for Catholic women…I see it every week at the Masses I celebrate at large suburban parishes…each one of those couples has 2.5 kids…I hear it in the casual conversations that men have with me informing me that they long ago had “snip-snip”…I haven’t had confession about birth control in years…So why the uproar about a “mandate” that mirrors what many states do (Marquette provides contraceptive coverage for its employees and has for years–neither Dolan nor Listecki has ever said a word.)

… But what of the subtext of all of this — a deliberate and … a pre-meditated attack by the Catholic bishops on the character and reputation of a sitting president and an effort to affect the outcome of a presidential election.

Birth control debate exposes divide between bishops and Catholics” is a headline from Reuters. That article talks mostly with academics and the leaders of large Catholic institutions. Jon O’Brien talks to the people in the pews — or, rather, to the people increasingly no longer in the pews. “Catholics and Contraception: Letters From the Laity Paint a Very Different Picture Than the Bishops Want You to See.”

Tara McGuinness also brings her own layperson’s perspective in “Why I Wish Catholic Leaders Would Stop Saying Our Church Is Under Attack“:

If this is really a war against religion, maybe it’s time to ask the people of faith who are supposedly under attack. People like me.

My expertise on this topic is personal. Mine is a family in which priests and nuns outweigh any other profession except nurses. My mom taught nursing and medicine at a Catholic college, and placed nursing students in Catholic hospitals for 40 years. Family, faith, and taking care of people — these values are at the core of what we were taught growing up. Perhaps that is why the harsh tones, the imaginary division of the world into two camps — the faithful under attack and the attackers — seems more politics than theology. Certainly it is extremely distant from the millions of lives that could be affected by these conservative outcries. This would merely be entertaining election year political shenanigans if there were not so many lives at stake.

… It is about time we raise the policy debate in Washington to keep up with complexity of faith, health and family that most Americans already navigate in their daily lives. Most Americans are religious. Fifty-five percent told Gallup that religion is “very important” to them. But these same Americans are also focused on the health of their families and they are, in fact, using birth control. Newt, Mitt, Rick, and all the other gentlemen trying to demagogue this issue would be best served listening to the folks in the pews before launching any more pious screeds. Most of America’s faithful families aren’t under attack from a “war on religion.” I for one don’t feel under attack — except perhaps from a small group of Republican presidential candidates who keep ignoring the voices, values, and lives of women like me.

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  • http://thetalkingllama.wordpress.com/ SketchesbyBoze

    Actually, two women testified. Andrew Sullivan originally thought the same, but has since corrected his post.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    In the second round.  & like the crooked Komen thing, it is also such a tone deaf PR bungle because it highlights the truth of the matter– these men do not care about women.  Correction: these men hate women.

  • P J Evans

    And both of them were opposed to contraceptives. So they were there just to claim they had women testifying.

  • JRB

    “This ain’t about religion. Anyone trying
    to sell you that line is either lying to you or else is so profoundly confused
    himself that he cannot distinguish between his religion and his own
    fear/loathing/resentment of women.”

    Sorry Fred but as an outsider the concept
    of misogyny and religion (at least within the big three monos I am most
    familiar) is so entwined that I certainly can’t tell where when ends and the
    other begins.  The condemnation of birth control
    by the Pope, orthodox Judaism’s morning prayer that thanks God for them not being
    born a woman, the American Protestant’s fight against non-abstinence based sex
    education/abortion, Islam requiring woman to keep themselves covered to avoid
    tempting men.  All of which are just a
    small sample of misogynist practices that are pretty common elements of those
    faiths.

    Those men in the photo in your post ARE
    religious leaders because they have been ordained as such by their respective
    religions and I doubt that the vast majority of practitioners of those religions
    would dispute their leadership status.

    I appreciate that you (and the people you
    linked to) are fighting for religion to be a force for equality in the world
    but I think it’s disingenuous to argue that the misogyny in religion is a
    fringe and alien element and I also think that it is incredibly ahistorical to argue
    that one would have to “redefine” religion (as it is practiced, at least) to
    see it as a system used to “control and dominate women”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     

    Sorry Fred but as an outsider the concept
    of misogyny and religion (at least within the big three monos I am most
    familiar) is so entwined that I certainly can’t tell where when ends and the
    other begins.

    Thank you so much for meeting today’s quota of People Not of My Faith Dictating My Beliefs To Me. I had once again returned to the mistaken idea that my religion and my feminism were so intertwined that I cannot articulate where where one ends and the other begins. But thankfully a wise outside has come along to remind me of what I really believe.

    While your are at it, could you use the terms “sky daddy” and “imaginary friend” in your next post? I almost have bingo!

  • Persephone

    So where does one end and the other begin, then? I can’t tell from where I’m at either. I don’t think it’s an uncommon problem.

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

    So where does one end and the other begin, then? I can’t tell from where I’m at either.

    That’s the opposite of what your previous post said.

  • JRB

    Patrick,

    Please use this strawman to point to where in my comment I dictated your beliefs to you.

    The fact that you — personally — do not necessarily oppose birth control/thank god for not being made a woman/favor abstinence only education/believe in forcing women to cover up 99% does not mean that these are not (respectively) considered mainstream ideas in Catholicism/Judaism/(most forms of) Protestantism/Islam.

    If you have a problem with someone dictating what you believe, take it up with the guys claiming the authority to speak on behalf of your beliefs and the people who allow them that authority.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    favor abstinence only education…considered mainstream ideas in…(most forms of) Protestantism

    Evidence please? Or by “most forms of Protestantism” do you mean “the loudest, most politically active form of Protestantism in late 20th/early 21st century America”?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    JRB,

    The passage in question was this:

    I think it’s disingenuous to argue that the misogyny in religion is a fringe and alien element

    It’s a broad statement applied to all religion. However much the pro-hegemony crowd would have people believe it, “religion” does not mean “a few specific religious groups that have far too much political clout in the U.S.”

    I’m not a part of the groups the misogynist asses claim to represent. But your above statement puts all religious groups, including mine, as part of those allowing them the authority to that claim.

  • http://profiles.google.com/swbarnes2 Whitney Barnes

    You can not go around defining everyone whose religious beliefs are different from yours as being not “really” religious.  They are.  Religion includes lots of “good” beliefs, and lots of “bad” ones.  They are all religious.  You don’t get to say that it’s not a religious belief just because it’s the opposite of your own religiously informed values.

  • rizzo

    Yeah I’m seeing the No True Scotsman fallacy in this post.   As JRB said, these ARE religious leaders, chosen by other religious people to speak for their religion(s).  Some…obviously not all but at least some real religions do push the ideas that would return women to back alley abortions and barefoot kitchen pregnancy.  Saying that the people leading these crusades aren’t real religious leaders is intellectually dishonest.  For example, you probably disagree with the horrible acts committed during the Crusades or the Inquisition, but saying that the people who ordered the atrocities weren’t real religious leaders is disingenuous at best.

    That being said, the title of your post is correct.  Equating religion with misogyny is bad for women and religion, this is definitely true.  I’d love to see more religious leaders speaking out, denouncing these examples of ‘bad’ religious leaders and showing the positive side to religion, because these horrible, misogynist examples of religious leaders pictured above are definitely giving religion a bad reputation among thinking peoples.

    For some reason, I now have “The Facts of Life” theme song stuck in my head…

  • Persephone

    Of course religion (to be specific, the dominant religion in the US) is equated with misogyny. It’s right there in the book. It’s in the policies that are espoused by the leaders of the religion. To say otherwise is folly.

  • walden

    2 women on the afternoon panel….apparently. However, none on the prime morning panel.  Democrats were not permitted to call any witnesses.  The one woman they did call was not permitted to testify.

  • rizzo

     Of course not.  Letting a women talk in a mans venue would only get the place all full of emotions and whatnot.

  • Tricksterson

    What excuse did they use to prevent her?  Or did they even bother giving one?

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

    The above commenters do have a point – there is a lot of misogyny baked right into religion’s holy books. However, there’s also some progressivism.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    There’s a lot of misogyny baked into a lot of books. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a whole lot of works of similar length produced by the respective cultures that produced the world’s various holy books that don’t espouse a similar level of misogyny.

    The misogyny wasn’t willfully inserted into religious texts to keep women down. It was a product of the pre-existing culture. And the fact that the modern interpretations of those holy books reinforce misogyny, not in the same way as the cultures that produced the books, but rather in the way misogyny is practiced in the modern interpreter’s culture tells us more about the people doing the interpreting than about the holy book.

    Case in point: today on the news, I saw an interview with a minister who said that the bible is very specific that marriage is between one man and one woman, and the fundamental purpose of marriage is to foster a loving relationship for producing children.

    Only, as it happens, I’ve read the bible. And marriages have meant a lot of things in the bible, but within the first dozen marriages that they mention, it seems like marriage is between one man and several women, largely as a business transaction. Another is one man and one woman and also a bit on the side with one of the servants to produce children.

    That “biblical view of marriage” he saw very clearly in the bible wasn’t the (not especially egalitarian) one that was actually *in* the bible — it was the (not especially egalitarian) one that was pre-existing in his own head.

  • Matri

    However, there’s also some progressivism.

    Those are the “liberal” parts that have been inserted by “liberals” to “corrupt” the the book, and therefore are irrelevant and must be edited out in order to “return” the book to it’s “original” meaning.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     

    Those are the “liberal” parts that have been inserted by “liberals” to
    “corrupt” the the book, and therefore are irrelevant and must be edited
    out in order to “return” the book to it’s “original” meaning.

    When mockery of Andrew Schaffly and actual Andrew Scahffly quotes are indistinguishable from each other, you would think that he might get a clue.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     

    Those are the “liberal” parts that have been inserted by “liberals” to
    “corrupt” the the book, and therefore are irrelevant and must be edited
    out in order to “return” the book to it’s “original” meaning.

    Andrew Schlafly?  Is that you?

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    Oh that is a fair retort, & an obvious one.  As someone who tends to be on the “well, that book is pretty misogynistic…” I will also happily concede that it is pretty progressive too.  Thanks for that.

  • LL

    JRB is right. Sorry, but as an atheist (and a female), most religious “leaders” I’ve ever seen/encountered look like the pinheads in the picture above. In Texas (well, in non-Hispanic circles in Texas), the pinheads aren’t wearing the priest’s collar, but they look the same. Usually white, male, older (i.e., at least 30 and more likely 40+). 

    The fact is, misogyny IS a part of almost every religion. It is a feature, not a bug. It was put there deliberately. That they (whoever came up with all these different religions) didn’t always put it down in writing doesn’t make it any less influential. 

    And not too surprising that most religious people don’t own up to it. The decent ones won’t own up to it because they’re ashamed of it. The ones who are not decent don’t own up to it because they don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. As evidenced by grown men in the 21st century appearing in a Congressional hearing, publicly, with their faces showing and everything, to speak against birth control. They should go ahead and shake their fists with righteous anger about that “earth revolving around the sun” nonsense while they’re there. 

  • walden

     I agree that misogyny is part of many religions, including some of the major ones we know (and love?).  But it’s a bug, not a feature, and it needs to go.

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ mmy


    The fact is, misogyny IS a part of almost every religion. It is a feature, not a bug. It was put there deliberately. That they (whoever came up with all these different religions) didn’t always put it down in writing doesn’t make it any less influential.

    Unfortunately misogyny seems to be a part of just about everything in our culture. (Not saying that the major religions aren’t misogynist — I am pointing out that just because a group isn’t religious doesn’t mean they aren’t misogynist.)

    Or, to put it another way, patriarchy always finds a way to justify and perpetuate itself.

    But the world looks just the same
    And history ain’t changed

    ….

    Meet the new boss
    Same as the old boss[1]

    [1] Won’t get fooled again The Who

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    And not too surprising that most religious people don’t own up to it.
    The decent ones won’t own up to it because they’re ashamed of it.

    Or possibly some of us aren’t owning up to it because we don’t agree with what you think should be owned up to?

    I DO NOT think that misogyny is a “feature” of my religion.

  • Anonymous

    This is related to a general problem that human beings have.  People in the in-group are individuals; people in out-groups are collectives.  When a religious person says “my religion,” she is referring to her own religious beliefs and practices, which may not overlap with what another person refers to when she says “my religion,” even if they give those two religions the same name.

    But when an atheist says “your religion,” or when a Christian addressing a Muslim says “your religion,” etc. etc., she is typically referring to the entire social collective of all of the people who slap a particular label on their religions beliefs and practices.  To an atheist, a Christian saying misogyny isn’t a part of Christianity seems dishonest, because “Christianity” to an atheist means, roughly, “the group of people who believe Jesus rose from the dead,” or “the statistically typical beliefs of people who believe Jesus rose from the dead which are asserted by the statistically typical people who believe Jesus rose from the dead to be ‘religious beliefs’.”

    Now, to be honest, I think the “social collective” definition of a religion is a concept that needs some concise term with which to refer to it.  However, when a conversation between individual people are taking place, each party should be mindful that if the other party says “my religion,” she is referring to something that she personally says, does, or believes.

  • Anonymous

    Well, for those of us who reject the bishop of Rome, his tyrannies, and all of his detestable enormities, we can happily reject the erotophobia that’s kind of baked in to Rome’s moral theology.

    But Catholics have a bit of a problem.  There’s a strong disdain for sexuality going right back to the Fathers and if you want to be a member of a Church that’s all about the tradition that was handed over to it to be safeguarded down through the centuries, you basically have to double down lest you call into question the whole edifice.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    But Catholics have a bit of a problem. There’s a strong disdain for sexuality going right back to the Fathers and if you want to be a member of a Church that’s all about the tradition that was handed over to it to be safeguarded down through the centuries, you basically have to double down lest you call into question the whole edifice.

    I suppose I should be happy that men outside my religion also feel that they should tell me what to do?

  • Anonymous

    I apologize for having given offense.

    Let me see if I can state my thoughts in a less offensive manner:  If you don’t buy Thomist/Augustinian moral theology and the authority of the pope and the councils, why not just leave the Church?  The Episcopal Church is socially and theologically liberal (and has all the social justice-y stuff associated with liberal Catholicism) and you also get to keep the liturgy.

  • Anonymous

    I should add:  The business of any non-generative sex constituting a mortal sin is one of probably three reasons that I’m not actually Roman Catholic.  My question is meant sincerely.

  • Anonymous

    What we believe, how we identify ourselves concerning religion– it’s part of who we are and our identity, to a lot of people. It’s akin to the same reason that you don’t just move to Canada whenever someone you really dislike takes office– because to many people, nationality is a part of our identity.

    Besides, you can agree with a church’s core tenets and disagree with the current leadership.

  • Tricksterson

    But unquestioning obedience to the hierarchy is the core value of Catholicism.  And to a lesser extent all Abrahamic religions but only because they haven’t had as much practice.

  • SisterCoyote

     …Wow. That is seriously quite a nasty slur on every person who follows an Abrahamic religion, and to a greater extent to all Catholics. Are you sure that’s what you meant?

    Because I’m reasonably certain that the core value of Christianity, as stated by the founder, is “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

  • Tricksterson

    Oh really, I thought it was “Baa like a sheep”.

  • Tricksterson

    Okay, that was mean and mean spirited and I shouldn’t have put it like that.  Of course there are positive messages in Christianity, Judaism and, I’m sure Islam and I’ve met some very good people from all three religions (as well as some asshat pagans).  Thing is none of it matters because none of them are calling the shots.  Rarrely have and rarely will.  And if good people stick to rotten institutions then they shouldn’t be shocked if they get hit with some of the shit aimed at the people who deserve it because just by belonging they are giving their tacit support.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    So if I’m covered in shit because of my religion so I’m asking for it anyway, what’s your excuse?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    OK, that was mean and mean-spirited and I shouldn’t have put it like that.

    All better now? Or are you having trouble trusting that anything I say to you is in good faith?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    But unquestioning obedience to the hierarchy is the core value of
    Catholicism.  And to a lesser extent all Abrahamic religions but only
    because they haven’t had as much practice.

    And now today’s quota has been met! And here I thought the core value of my religion was love. Thanks for the correction!

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ mmy


    But unquestioning obedience to the hierarchy is the core value of Catholicism.

    Citation please. Because this morning I have been surfing the Vatican’s website and those of major Catholics theologians and that isn’t what I am finding there.[1]

    I have many beefs/arguments with the Catholic Church. I think it is better to argue with/against the actual Church not a straw simulacrum.[2]

    [1] If you were raised a Catholic and someone told you that — then they were at best oversimplifying to the point where what they said was indistinguishable from “being wrong.” At worst, they were “just wrong.” 

    [2] If you are referring to the line I believe in one, holy, catholic[3] and apostolic Church from The Nicene Creed the Church therein referred to is the “entire” church (laity as well as clergy) and the creed does not refer to any particular hierarchical setup.

    [2] Note that the “c” in catholic is not capitalized. In other words, it is “catholic” as in “universal” not Catholic as in Roman Catholic.

  • Kiba

    It’s akin to the same reason that you don’t just move to Canada whenever someone you really dislike takes office– because to many people, nationality is a part of our identity.

    Well, that and those pesky immigration laws….

  • Tricksterson

    Invalid comparison.  There are substantial legal and financial hurdles to be jumped if you want to move to another country.  Not so for changing religions.

  • SisterCoyote

     I’m well aware of that, which is why I said “akin to the reason.” But there are substantial emotional and psychological hurdles to be jumped for changing religions. I know it’s an imperfect analogy; my point is that people define themselves by religion to a certain degree, and changing that is not easy.

    Personally, I’d consider leaving this country well before I considered leaving my religion, either doctrine.

  • Mary Kaye

    I would like to see us fight long and hard against misogyny.

    I think that aiming at “religion” will hit misogyny to some extent, because a lot of religious leaders are in fact stridently misogynistic.  But it will also hit people who are potential allies, people who are NOT misogynists, people who will resent guilt-by-association with those who aren’t even members of the same religion–it’s like spraying wildly with a machine gun when you want to hit a specific target.  You will hit the target but you’ll do a lot of collateral damage including the real possibility of “friendly fire.”

    Speaking as a Wiccan, I am a lot more likely to ally with someone who does not assume that because I am a person of faith I must de facto be a sexist, nor that because I am a person of faith my faith leaders must be sexists.  It’s not true and it’s not helpful.

    So can we quit saying “religion” unless that is actually what is meant?  That word, it does not mean what you are using it to mean.  It does not mean “American evangelism”.  It does not mean “Mainstream Christianity”.  It does not mean “Christianity” or “The Big Three”.  It encompasses Native American religions, Dianic Wicca, Shinto, Zen Buddhism, Unitarian-Universalism, Santeria, Candomble’, Catholicism, Satanism…. Please don’t collaborate with US Christian assholes who want to appropriate this general word about the human experience to their own narrow sect!

  • Button

    I’m annoyed by the left’s continued buying-into this contraception framing.

    Personal story! (Testimony?)

    I’m on the pill. The reason I was prescribed the pill is because my period had gone on for 2 weeks and wouldn’t stop. My doctor told me that the pill would stop my period and help to regulate my hormones, so hopefully my next one wouldn’t be so wonky. So far, it seems to be working.

    I’m in a long-distance relationship, and I haven’t seen nor thought I’d
    see my boyfriend since before I started the pill. I have never used it as birth control, and I’ll be off the pill long before I get to see him again.

    So to me, this whole manufactured controversy isn’t even about birth control. It’s about medication that can be used as birth control. The religious right want to give my employer the right to deny me coverage for any disorder of the reproductive tract, if the treatment for that disorder could also be used as birth control.

    You may now return to your scheduled bickering.

  • Dan Audy

     

    So to me, this whole manufactured controversy isn’t even about birth control. It’s about medication that can be used as birth control. The religious right want to give my employer the right to deny me coverage for any disorder of the reproductive tract, if the treatment for that disorder could also be used as birth control.

    Personally, I really dislike this particular framing.  It implies that the problem with the right’s war on women is that legitimate healthcare is getting caught in the crossfire.  Which it is, but the problem is that is the corresponding implications that other uses (contraceptive) are somehow not legitimate.  Both health and contraceptive uses of medication are legitimate and it is very important not to set them up as opposing poles or we will potentially end up with people proposing a ‘comprimise’ where women are permitted to take birth control only if they justify a non-contraceptive reason for it.

  • Button

    In terms of policy, I agree it’s a bad framing; but in terms of demonstrating the hypocrisy of the issue to its hangers-on, I think it’s the most effective one. It’s much easier to demonstrate that something has non-sexual uses than it is to convince people that sexual uses are legitimate.

    That’s just my experience living with a fairly morally conservative, extremely fiscally conservative family though. (Too tight to pay for cable, thank god, so I don’t have to deal with neoconservatism.)

  • The Lodger

    Thanks for that. My own (hypothetical) example is a nun who has problems with her period and is taking the pill as therapy. In her case, the pill is not a method of birth control. (Considering her vows and the contract she’s made with her church, abstinence would be her method of birth control.) The pill is hormonal therapy for a problem with her menstrual cycle. End of story.

    The idea that an employer has any business interfering with employees’ health decisions for allegedly religious reasons is, in two words, fascistic nonsense.

  • P J Evans

    It isn’t the left that manufactured the controversy. It’ isn’t the left that was testifying at the theatrical occasion.
    Check your assumptions, because you might be assuming incorrectly.

  • rigorist

    Typo.  You misspelled “The Liar Tony Perkins” as “Tony Perkins”.

  • Anonymous

    the concept of misogyny and religion (at least within the big three monos I am mostfamiliar) is so entwined that I certainly can’t tell where when ends and the other begins.  … [O]rthodox Judaism’s morning prayer that thanks God for them not being born a woman …

    Why do men thank G-d for not making them a woman?

    Who Has Not Made Me a Woman

  • http://twitter.com/Rhysdux Rhysdux

    I always wondered–what do Orthodox Jewish women say in their morning prayers? They can’t thank God for not having made them women, and that’s the only prayer that anyone ever mentions.

    The implication of this omission is that not only the morning prayer in Orthodox Judaism misogynistic, but that the misogyny is justified–for women’s prayers are so ill-esteemed by male scholars as to be deemed not worth mentioning.

  • LunaticFringe

    From the first link: This is indicative of the general difference between men and women:
    while men feel a constant need to do, women have an innate ability to
    be.

    So this uterus should be keeping me serene and content, not restless and always wanting to be doing things?

    I think mine is broken.

  • Tricksterson

    You know it seems to me that $650 million given to Catholic charities mentioned above violates the seperation of church and state a lot more than the insurance legislation does.  After all it’s given in support of charioties affiliated with a specific religion.  I wonder how the bishops would feel about having that support withdrawn?  Three guesses, first two don’t count.

  • Marshall Sutton

    For what it’s worth, I know Ben Mitchell personally, as he and I are members of the same congregation. Though I disagree with him on this issue, as I do on many others, I can say that he does not hold these positions out of some deep-seated misogyny that is his own character flaw, but out of a conservative–misogynistic, I will grant–but typical reading of scripture. He is a very thoughtful man, and I would not lump him in with many others speaking out on his side of this issue. 

  • cyllan

    Though I disagree with him on this issue, as I do on many others, I can
    say that he does not hold these positions out of some deep-seated
    misogyny that is his own character flaw, but out of a
    conservative–misogynistic, I will grant–but typical reading of
    scripture. He is a very thoughtful man, and I would not lump him in with
    many others speaking out on his side of this issue.

    The thing is? I don’t really care how thoughtful the guy is who is standing on my foot. He’s still standing on my foot. It doesn’t matter that he’s read books that tell him to stand just so, and that he’s given a great deal of thought as to where those books were telling him to put his feet. He’s still putting his foot on top of mine and pushing down hard.

  • Marshall Sutton

    A fair assessment. As I said, I don’t agree with his stance. My intent was more to stand up for a friend who doesn’t deserve the sort of name calling that many taking this stance have received and often do deserve.

  • http://bramboniusinenglish.wordpress.com Brambonius

    So are modern consumer capitalism, which uses the bodies of women to sell all kinds of junk on billboards and TV ads and words and the entertainment industry, that reinstates the same old cliches all the time and uses women as sexy decoration in a lot of music videos for example, also considered religion?

  • Tricksterson

    Maybe not officially but they should be.  Commercialism is the real religion of the US.

  • ambrosia

    What infurates me most in all of the hand-wringing on the part of those who really don’t matter is the basic assumption that women are too stupid or too immoral to mind their own bodies and decide if and when to bear children. Whose choice should it be?

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Tricksterson, you are being incredibly rude. It’s hurtful, and saying “oh, but you should expect to get hurt if you are part of this! so totes not my fault!” isn’t a good excuse.

    Please stop it.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/ Ani Sharmin

    So many links . . .

    I do the same thing and really appreciate that you gathered all this writing from many people into this post. I’m going through each one, and am currently on the one by Garry Willis. The articles by Tara McGuinness and Sierra were especially enjoyable.

    On one point in your blog entry, though, I have to agree with Whitney Barnes’ comment above, quoted here:

    You can not go around defining everyone whose religious beliefs are different from yours as being not “really” religious.  They are.  Religion includes lots of “good” beliefs, and lots of “bad” ones.  They are all religious.  You don’t get to say that it’s not a religious belief just because it’s the opposite of your own religiously informed values.

    It does sound a big disingenuous to say that other people aren’t really religious just because they don’t agree with you, especially considering that there are many verses in the Bible that are misogynistic and many interpretations in the history of Christianity that have discriminated against women.


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