Religion has truly surpassed the power of every invention that has followed it. As the Bronze Age, Iron age, middle ages, the age of enlightenment and the Modern ages have come and gone and gone, religion has been the enemy of progress every step of the way. To the faithful, things like the Hubble Space Telescope, nuclear weapons, and climate change are nothing compared to the power of a faith that believes in a god. If anything man can learn comes into conflict with the faithful, the Bible will win out. It either has to be wrong or misunderstood of the work of Satan because the Bible cannot be wrong according to the faithful. This concept is shown is several ways.One way is the refusal to accept scientific answers to the questions that it provides such as in astronomy, paleontology, biology and other disciplines that function quite well with the facts that lay outside the Bible's stories.
But not only does religion have the power to terrorize, it also the power to influence every level of behavior of the adherents and to some degree the people that live in the society of the dominate religious belief. Things such as clergy gender, celibacy, wearing of the hair or jewelry, view toward homosexuals, what type of food to eat and role of women and many more issue are all answered conclusively by the dogma of the religion. Each religion either pushes that they are divinely right or at least the best choice to please and honor their god. Even in the pluralistic beliefs such as Baha'i Faith.
It is true at the heart of Christianity and Islam that woman are to be shunned and controlled, the natural sexual desire are to be repressed and avoided at almost all costs. While in America there is a virtual smörgåsbord of religions of almost every school of thought one can think of. The reality that many woman are either forced into or brainwashed into accepting the second class status to men is intolerable in the natural order of humanity. While it has taken several centuries for this progress to happen, it is still a work in progress. I recently went to a Christian service at Willow Creek-Chicago and the video taped message was about Ester from the Old Testament. The story told how the King banished his wife for daring to respect herself enough not to parade out in front of his people. For this "crime" she was banished. [I was surprised she wasn't killed.] But to select a new wife the ordered woman to walk before in dressed in their most beautiful clothes and one thing and other Ester was selected because she was more beautiful. To me this is nothing more than pure sexism. Plus this story is being taught Today in one of the more liberal mega churches in America. Of course the person giving the message turned the story around about how "brave" Ester was but the thing is that her and all woman were viewed merely as chattel to the wishes of the King and other men.
In Christianity, the Catholic Church praises Mary the mother of Christ but vilifies Mary Magdeline the follower of Jesus. They will not let men and women clergy marry. This can be seen as a subjugation of women in that a man is afforded power and a woman is not able to share in the power as his wife. Woman are forbidden to be priest and leaders of the church outside the office set up for them which at even the highest level an ordained priest is given a higher position than the highest ranking nun. But this oppression is not unique to Catholics.
In Protestant religions the range is wide and deep. Woman can lead, or are prohibited to lead, woman can wear anything publicly acceptable or a woman must wear a full length dress with her hair uncut and covered. A woman can speak and teach in church or she much remain silent and only learn via her sexist husband. But in all of the Christian Protestant religions men come out ahead of woman. It is true that the men will say that woman are honored and respected in church and given a place of honor and respect. But this rings in my ears as the words I have heard when asking Muslims about the status of woman in their society. It is just a different tune they sing the song too. I mentioned the Shakers before, that they were a group that didn't believe in having children, so they had to adopt or recruit people in. But woman had somewhat of an equal status in the church. But the jobs for the woman and men were very stereotypical such as men worked in shops and farmed and woman worked in the home and did the domestic chores. Despite laws against it, this prejudice still exists in business and society as well.
Then we get to Islam which also has a wide range of expression as well. I lived in St. Louis and had many friends that were Bosnian Muslim and the woman and men were very western looking. I am not sure if this is from their home culture or the desire to adapt into the St. Louis culture and fit in. Even though I was usually able to pick an Bosnian man or woman out among other because of the physical appearance the woman always dressed as the American woman did. I wish all Muslims were as these people are. I believe the world would be a much better place.
But it is not, When I was in Saudi Arabia I was treated to experience the discrimination of woman in the total culture. Sure they view it as protecting them or honoring them but who says they need any protection or even wish to have your honor if given the freewill and other options to choose from? On the public transportation buses in Saudi Arabia the front door had a picture of a woman in a burka holding a child's hand with the prohibited sign going across them. Then on the back door, the same sign without the prohibited sign. I hear of the huge mall that was built in Saudi Arabia that actually had two levels one for woman and children and one for men. I only got to talk to one woman while I was over there and she was with her brother. [I actually had to have him talk to her.] They were very polite and she seemed quite content with the idea of being under the burka and the restrictions that are placed upon her. She even reflected the views of the Saudi Cultural Information tents that were present at our location at the Khobar Towers when I was there during the Gulf War.
Oddly enough, a Saudi citizen could drive across the King Faud Causeway to Bahrain and not have near the restrictions of the home country of Islam.
I did enjoy my experience with the Saudi people and for the most part are very polite and friendly to us as we were guests in their country. Even though I was serving in the Army in the time I found it an honor to be in their country. I just had a different view than they do. It was during my talks in the white Saudi Culture tents that I got to talk to several Imams and other Muslims about their religion. They told me that Islam accepts both Judaism and Christianity. However one cannot practice them openly. But as long as they practice privately only in their home then they are not going to be persecuted. Also that if a person moved to Saudi Arabia and they were a different religion, they would not be forced to change. They may be educated about Islam to avoid making mistake or violating the laws but they could convert of their own freewill. What a tolerant place!
I did, of course, find this quite confusing but I was a devout Christian at the time myself. So who was I to say. Here I was a Christian fighting on behalf of a Muslim country, Kuwiat. King Richard would have had my head.
Coming next time:
DOES ALLAH REALLY CARE? REALLY? part twenty-seven