03 July 2008

Women and Religion

I recently had a conversation with a friend and at the root of the discussion was the question: Why are women so susceptible to supernatural dogma?

The answer may lie in the fact that so many women feel disempowered in societies where religion and other forms of the supernatural are promoted.

Women are usually at the bottom of the 'pecking order': white men, black men, white women, black women/'women of colour' (as a crude example), in that order. Professional religious promoters usually target women who, naturally and usually, have the responsibility of bearing and raising children from birth. 'If you educate a woman you educate a nation' is a saying which illustrates just how important it is to capture the minds and hearts of women as the social and moral constructs of the society encourage women to indoctrinate their own offspring. Women teach at the breast, sing religious lullabies, pray, read religious texts.

I travelled on the bus the other day and a young child, no more than three years old, sat on his mothers lap behind me and started singing a beautiful tune in my ear. I was mesmerised as his sweet voice softly wafted around me. I really enjoy hearing young children singing - it signifies happiness for me. I suddenly caught the actual words:
''Jesus is my love, my light and my Saviour, and I know he loves me...'' sung over and over again.
Whilst he continued singing the same refrain it made me think about where and how he learned this song. Was this through the church his family attended? His parents, grandparents? What else did they teach him about 'god' and 'Jesus'? Why not share fun songs, play/learn fun songs which are appropriate for a child of this age?
I suddenly felt a swathe of despair hit me as I considered the plight of young children around the world who were being abused and indoctrinated in this way.
As he finished his tune he clapped his hands and his mother kissed him audibly and spoke some loving words to him. She was praising him. She then began singing the same song back to him.
Women are being used to continue traditions which are detrimental to humans. In the black churches the norm is to have clear hierarchical structures with women knowing their place. They clean the churches, arrange flowers, cook food, serve the congregations and ensure the children are behaving themselves. In some of the 'jump-up' churches women swoon and throw themselves on the floor, getting 'in spirit', speaking and screaming 'in tongues' - visibly devout Christians.
Women coerce their children to pray before meals and kneel and pray at bedtime to 'god'. Women buy and read children's' bibles to their young. Women are a necessary, essential part of the promotion of dogma. Women pass on the distorted, damaged baton to their children. And the cycle continues.
Islam is in the same bag. I'm actually talking about all religions, (including the as deluded Rastafarians) - they all operate on passing on a virus. That's how they have grown and evolved. Unfortunately along with ignorance of our world we have inherited a fear of women, fear of ourselves. Women are taught to be considered unclean whilst menstruating and some animists, voodoo believers see that as a time when a women has 'strong powers'. All total crap to somehow differentiate themselves from the other supernaturalists. You will notice that they all try and seperate themselves from each other, except when they have rational, freethinking people in their midst? Watch. They cling together like limpets.
In all of that the role of women hasn't changed much. Same old, same old.


Andrea said...

I hear what you're saying about the role women have played in promoting religious dogma. I've often been mildly chastised for not taking my children to church. I think that morals and ethics can be taught without the dogma. I'm actually Wiccan, mostly because it's geared toward the empowerment of women in the practice. I teach my childen to honor nature and all things in it.

Anonymous said...

Like most CHOCOLATE folks, I grew up in the church and became indoctrinated very early.

But as I've traveled the world, and met many, many people, I realize the narrow thinking which follows this indoctrination limits the success of a nation tremendously.

I learned that the phrase, "We're all God's children" are just words to momentarily soothe the souls of those who are being oppressed.

Nothing is more offensive to a God you claimed sent you here for a purpose--and your only contribution is to tip-toe to the grave safely with your gifts still locked inside because you spent three or four nights a week of your life inside a building hoping what you we're hearing is actually true.

Wake up people!

Ralph Dumain said...

You have pinpointed a key locus of the barbarism that characterizes human history. The black woman's slave mentality is all too familiar. For a certain segment of the population, the situation is improving generationally. To what degree it is changing with the younger generation is hard to say, because traditions live on even for those who enjoy upward mobility, especially when the brainwashing is so intense. The question remains, to what extent are women helpless victims of brainwashing, and to what extent are they co-conspirators responsible for their crimes? The question is probably unanswerable. However, I began to think about this seriously when faced with the reactionary attitudes among women of the educated middle class, and pondered their conservative illusions. As women are guardians of home and hearth, they are also guardians of society's most ignorant and reactionary values. Have you ever had contact with women from the American South? If so, perhaps you've experienced the horror for yourself.

Anonymous said...

Just a note from a fan. You are a powerful, critical thinker - please keep going! Excited to have found you and look forward to reading more!

-- much love from the u.s.

Wandering and Wondering said...

"...women are guardians of home and hearth..." lets not devalue ourselves, women are the guardians of the future.

Our culture pits us against each other, it provokes competition and distrust rather than collaboration and nurturing. When we women realize how powerful we really are and how vital it is to love and support each other we can get past religious and patriarchal control and make life beautiful for not only mothers, daughters and sisters but for our sons and brothers.

I love your insite and depth.
Thanks for sharing.

Hedon said...


I read this post a few days ago and couldn't quit thinking about it and how I'd like to comment. I know its an old post but I liked what you said.

I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how women can belong to main-stream churches. Or for that matter people of color and gays as well. I could never understand how a person could reach out for hope and comfort to a group that makes no bones about considering them as second-class citizens.

Then it finally hit me -- its a lot like a woman who is married to an abusive man. He beats her and treats her like crap but she just takes it and hopes for better days to come. Everyone outside of the relationship looks on and says, "she should leave him... why's she putting up with that crap..."

I don't know but I wish I did.

C Woods said...

You write so beautifully and you write the truth.

I am reminded of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's quotations:

“Every form of religion which has breathed upon this earth has degraded women. Man himself could not do this; but when he declares ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ of course he can do it.”

“The memory of my own suffering has prevented me from ever shadowing one young soul with the superstitions of the Christian religion.”

In my own family, although both my parents were highly religious, it was my father who was the one who expected my sister and me to 'tow the line' of the faith, not just on Sundays, but every moment of our lives. I usually tell people it was reading the Bible from beginning to end, several times, a chapter before dinner every night, that turned me into an atheist, but maybe it was the oppression of my father's expectations of my being a hyper Christian 24/7 that made me turn away from religion.

As I write this, it sounds like my father was one of those dictatorial paternal types. Actually he was very mild-mannered and loving, not in the least controlling or abusive. But he expected a lot from his daughters when it came to religion. My sister followed his path while I rejected it.

I added your blog to my very long list of freethought resources at:

Aubrie said...

Just wanted to say that I am a twenty-two year old black female atheist, and this blog gives me hope- not just for black people, but for humanity in general. The majority of my peers, with the exception of my fiancé, are very religious and at times it can be very disheartening to see how religion can cause people to get 'stuck' in a closed frame of mind. However, blogs like this one give me hope that there is room for change. Please, keep posting; I will definitely keep reading!

C Woods said...

I recently discovered your blog and I am enjoying reading your past posts.

I started my freethought blog recently. I was wondering if you would give me permission to sometimes print the first few sentences of one of your comments along with attribution and a link to the blog for those interested in reading the rest of it? Although I haven't had a lot of traffic yet, that might generate some of my readers your way.

If you don't want to publish this comment and/or your response publicly on your blog, just add a comment to any of my posts (they are moderated) with your response and I will not publish it on mine.

So far, I have posted only quotations on freethought/atheism, but I will soon be adding some of my own writing. I've posted several comments to you, so you can see some of my thoughts are in agreement with yours.

My blog is MY Thoughts Are Free at: http://tirelesswing.blogspot.com

BlackBerry said...

I was in my routine blogwalking when I bumped (in a good way) to your blog, particularly this post.I liked what you wrote. And I often thought about the possibility that i think related to your post theme: "Will there be any Jesus if there's no Mary?" I know it's ridiculous to ask, but what do you think? Thx. Warm regards.

Anonymous said...

Man you are so SAD!!!! You should wake up!!!!!!!!!!! what's wrong with children singing christian songs.... i mean are u that STUPID to think that they were brainwashed... I don't care if you don't believe in God but seriously u should stop writting all these non-sense about relion being a bad thing.....
If you want to miss out in God's Kingdom then it your problem but dont write stuff that coud cause someone else to lose their faith...
All your blogs are just SAD :(
I dont know if the people who like it are mentally retarded like you or not....sorry just my thoughts...