Religion And Patriarchy

The current assault on women’s autonomy, led primarily by people espousing fundamentalist versions of Evangelical Christianity, has awakened many Americans to the considerable influence of religion on American law and culture. That influence is not new, although the extent of it has largely gone unrecognized. Indeed, through most of American history, people have vastly underestimated the profound and continuing influence of culturally-embedded attitudes that originated with religious ways of interpreting reality. Most of us today recognize the impact of purportedly religious beliefs on issues like abortion, same-sex marriage and support for the death penalty, but what is far less obvious is the degree to which religiously-rooted worldviews continue to influence seemingly secular policy debates, including economic policies.

Many of the cultural perspectives that shape our policy preferences were originally religious, and those religious roots have influenced our adult worldviews—including the worldviews of people who reject theological doctrines and do not believe themselves to be religious. The much-ballyhooed “values” debate isn’t a conflict between people who are religious and people who are not, nor is it a struggle between people holding different religious beliefs. It’s a debate between people operating out of different and largely inconsistent worldviews, and whether they recognize it or not, many of those worldviews originally grew out of different and frequently inconsistent religious explanations of the world we inhabit. Those inconsistencies don’t just reflect differences between major religions—different theological approaches taken by Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc.—but also between denominations within those religions, especially the numerous denominations within Christianity. Calvinist beliefs, for example, continue to exert a major influence on American economic policy.

As women have slowly moved into the mainstream of American life, the doctrinal and
structural differences of the major Abrahamic religions have shaped both their official
responses and the culture. That has especially been true of religions like Catholicism that
prohibit women from the priesthood and consider both abortion and artificial birth control
sinful.  It wasn’t until 2020 that Pope Francis changed church law to allow a somewhat expanded role for women within the Catholic Church. The decree allows women to serve as readers, altar servers, and assistants to priests during service or in administering Holy Communion; however, the priesthood remains exclusively male.

As Frank Bruni has written  “For all the remarkable service that the Catholic Church performs, it is one of the world’s dominant and most unshakable patriarchies, with tenets that don’t abet equality.”

For women to get a fair shake in the work force, they need at least some measure of reproductive freedom. But Catholic bishops in the United States lobbied strenuously against the Obamacare requirement that employers such as religiously affiliated schools and hospitals include contraception in workers’ health insurance.

The autocratic structure of Catholicism, which discourages dissent from approved messaging, and requires the exclusion of women from the pulpit, operates to reinforce the subordinate status of women. Recent revelations about an internal “faith group” within Catholicism underscore that message.  People of Praise (which counts current Supreme Court Justice Amy Comey Barrett among its members) calls for complete obedience of women to their husbands, “emphasizes the importance of childbirth, pregnancy and the abandonment of autonomy and privacy it supposedly entails, as a core part of what it means to be a woman.” The Catholic Church remains adamantly anti-abortion, recognizing an exception only when it is clearly required in order to save the life of the mother.

The response of liberal Protestantism to cultural change has been very different. The largest Mainline  Protestant denominations include the United Methodist Church (UMC), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Presbyterian Church (PC-USA), the Episcopal Church, the American Baptist Church (ABC- USA, not to be confused with the Southern Baptists, considered below) the United Church of Christ (UCC), and Christian Church Disciples of Christ (DOC). Sometimes referred to as the “Seven Sisters,’ these denominations have seen significant growth in the ordination of women; as of 2010, approximately 10% of Protestant pastors were female.  A survey conducted in 1987 suggested that women entering pastoral positions brought liberal commitments in religion, theological discussions, and cultural values to their congregations. Those commitments translate into their current supportive positions on abortion and birth control; a recent study by Pew categorizes them as supportive of abortion rights, albeit with some restrictions.

When it comes to religion and women’s rights, historians note that Quakers and Jews have been longstanding and prominent proponents of female equality. Quakers are among the least “top down” of Christian sects, and as far back as the early 1800s, Quaker women who were recognized as being “called” were allowed to travel to share their gifts of ministry, usually with a chaperone. The most famous was probably Lucretia Mott (1793-1880). The Quaker acceptance of women’s education and ministry set Quakers apart from the rest of organized Christianity, and may explain the disproportionate presence of Quaker women in the abolition movement. That activity led to gatherings of women who were also concerned about the need for greater rights for women. Of the four women who led the planning for the first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls in 1848, three were Quakers.

Like Quakerism, Judaism has no single authority able to prescribe what is “kosher” in Jewish law and observance. Throughout the ages, Rabbis have argued about the proper meaning of biblical and Talmudic passages, and individual Jews have followed those that they found persuasive. Women’s status has varied, but the prevailing attitudes have usually been more progressive than those of surrounding cultures. In Judaism, descent is matrilinear—a Jew is someone born of a Jewish mother. Jewish law requires women to obey the same negative commandments that men must follow (the “thou shalt nots”), but excuses females from ritual duties that are time-bound, presumably in recognition of women’s maternal obligations. As far back as Talmudic times, evidence suggests that at least some women were educated in the Bible and Jewish law. During and after the Middle Ages, because many Jewish women were the family breadwinners in order to allow the man of the house to study, the culture has been very accepting of women entering the workforce and later, the professions.  With respect to worship, progress has been more recent: Reform Judaism ordained its first female rabbi in 1972, and Reconstructionist Judaism followed suit 1974. Today, there are more than a thousand women in the rabbinate, as well as a growing number of LGBTQ Rabbis, and congregants are accustomed to seeing women as Rabbis and Cantors within Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist synagogues.

The Orthodox movement within Judaism has been considerably slower to accept women’s full participation; in Orthodox synagogues, men and women still sit apart, and until very recently there have been no female Rabbis. Feminists within Orthodoxy have been actively advocating for reforms, and in 2013, a first group of female rabbinical students graduated from a New York seminary, but there is still considerable resistance within Orthodoxy to giving them pulpits, and similar resistance to many of the changes that Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative movements have made.

With respect to abortion, Jewish law affirms that protecting existing life is
paramount at all stages of pregnancy; however, Judaism does not consider a fetus a person until the head emerges from the womb. In Jewish law, the interests of the pregnant individual always come before that of the fetus. Jewish sources explicitly state that abortion is not onl permitted but is required should the pregnancy endanger the life or health of the pregnant individual, and “health” includes psychological as well as physical health.

American Muslims have only recently been numerous enough to affect social attitudes about women. Worldwide, Islamic practices vary widely. The Koran does require the education of women, and gives women certain rights if divorced by their husbands. According to the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, in the United States, Muslims are more likely than white Evangelicals and Protestants to have favorable views of feminists. The Institute has found that “American Muslim women denounce gender discrimination inside and outside of their community.”

Evangelicals and the Status of Women

Evangelicals, like the rest of America’s religious landscape, are diverse; however, the more fundamentalist White Evangelical Christian denominations are currently united in their opposition to women’s reproductive autonomy. That contemporary reality has tended to obscure the history of American Evangelicalism, which was far from monolithic in its approach to gender, and considerably less political than today. In some Evangelical denominations, women were allowed to be ordained and otherwise vested with spiritual authority; in many others, women were—and still are—forbidden from holding leadership roles.

A major tenet of Evangelical Christianity is the doctrine of complementarianism—the belief that while men and women are equal in creation, they are distinct in function. “Biblical womanhood” reflects this belief in “separate spheres.” Men are to be the leaders of the church and the home, and women are meant to support and submit to them. This doctrine has a long history in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), one of the largest and most influential of the Evangelical churches. As one religious historian wrote,

Southern Baptist leader John Broadus answered the question “should women speak in mixed public assemblies?” with a definitive “no” in 1889. The year before, when Southern Baptist women formed the Woman’s Missionary Union, they assured male leaders that they only desired to be supportive, not independent as women in some other denominations were.

As the writer noted, that thinking—advanced by the world’s largest organization for Protestant women– “shaped the views of generations of Southern Baptist women and in turn, those of their Evangelical neighbors and friends.” This approach to the roles of men and women persisted; in 1974, the wife of one influential Southern Baptist pastor wrote to a widely-approving audience that the man should lead and the woman should be submissive.

As the broader American culture changed, some Southern Baptist women pushed the denomination to rethink that submission. The SBC held a consultation on women’s roles in 1978, and a later organization, Baptist Women in Ministry, argued for an expanded role for women within the denomination. Within the broader Evangelical movement, there were also challenges to complementarianism and the traditional understanding of women’s roles. In 1988, Christians for Biblical Equality sought to empower women in Evangelical churches. About the same time, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood was formed to revisit the accepted definition of biblically-appropriate gender roles.

These efforts largely failed. In 2000, despite the emergence of Evangelical women arguing for more equal status within the faith, the SBC reaffirmed its adherence to complementarianism, publishing a proclamation that wives should submit to their husbands and pastors should be male.

Evangelical theology doesn’t simply elevate men over women; it considers homosexuality and gender-fluid identities to be sinful and unnatural, and rejects efforts to secure equal legal rights for LGBTQ Americans. As Evangelicals have become more and more political, and as the Republican Party has become more and more dependent upon the Evangelical vote, those beliefs have powered what has come to be called the Culture War, and the transformation of Evangelical theology into a political movement. As a result, any effort to examine Evangelical theology today must contend with the fact that, in today’s America, Evangelical is no longer a religious descriptor. It has become a political label.

Numerous studies have confirmed that a significant percentage of contemporary Americans who claim an Evangelical identity rarely attend religious services. In 2008, 16% of all self-identified Evangelicals reported “never or seldom’ when asked about their church attendance. By 2020, that number was 27%. In 2008, a third of self-identified Evangelicals who never attended church claimed to be politically conservative. By 2019, that number approached 50 percent. In addition, growing numbers of Catholics and Muslims now call themselves Evangelical. Apparently, many Americans think that being very religiously engaged and very politically conservative makes one an Evangelical.

Even more troubling, a growing body of research confirms that American Evangelicalism hasn’t simply become a political rather than religious identity; to a very significant extent, the American Evangelicals who dominate today’s Republican Party are more properly identified as White Christian Nationalists, and they are focused not upon faith but upon the defense of White male Christian privilege.

When it comes to women’s rights and the current effort to ban abortions, it is manifestly dishonest to argue that opposition to reproductive choice is grounded in Christian theology. Pastors to whom we have spoken—both those who describe themselves as “pro-life” and those who are “pro-choice”—agree that the bible is silent on the issue. Religious historians have documented that the roots of the anti-abortion movement lie elsewhere.  It wasn’t until 1979—a full six years after the Court decided Roe v, Wade—that Evangelical leaders, goaded by Paul Weyrich, seized on abortion as “a rallying-cry to deny President Jimmy Carter a second term.” As noted religion scholar Randall Balmer has written, these political figures felt that objecting to abortion would be seen as “more palatable” than what was actually motivating them, which was protection of the segregated schools they had established following the decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

According to Balmer,

Both before and for several years after Roe, evangelicals were overwhelmingly indifferent to the subject, which they considered a “Catholic issue.” In 1968, for instance, a symposium sponsored by the Christian Medical Society and Christianity Today, the flagship magazine of evangelicalism, refused to characterize abortion as sinful, citing “individual health, family welfare, and social responsibility” as justifications for ending a pregnancy. In 1971, delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, passed a resolution encouraging “Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.” The convention, hardly a redoubt of liberal values, reaffirmed that position in 1974, one year after Roe, and again in 1976.

It was rightwing anger about civil rights laws that originally motivated the “Right to life” movement. Political actors were savvy enough to recognize that organizing grassroots Evangelicals to defend racial discrimination wouldn’t cut it—that they would need a different issue if they wanted to mobilize Evangelical voters on a large scale. Distasteful as that reality is, evidence clearly shows that the Christian Right’s political activism, including but not limited to its opposition to abortion, was largely motivated by a defense of racial segregation, not by religious doctrine.

A lengthy 2022 article from the Guardian reported on the extensive relationships between White supremacist and anti-choice organizations.

Explicit white nationalism, and an emphasis on conscripting white women into reproduction, is not a fringe element of the anti-choice movement. Associations between white supremacist groups and anti-abortion forces are robust and longstanding. In addition to Patriot Front, groups like the white nationalist Aryan Nations and the neo-Nazi Traditionalist Worker party have also lent support to the anti-abortion movement. These groups see stopping abortion as part of a broader project to ensure white hegemony in addition to women’s subordination. Tim Bishop, of the Aryan Nations, noted that “Lots of our people join [anti-choice organizations] … It’s part of our Holy War for the pure Aryan race.” That the growing white nationalist movement would be focused on attacking women’s rights is maybe to be expected: research has long established that recruitment to the alt-right happens largely among men with grievances against feminism, and that misogyny is usually the first form of rightwing radicalization.

In his decision in Boggs v. Jackson, Justice Alito claimed that reversal of Roe “restores the US to an unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal punishment [that] persisted from the earliest days of the common law until 1973.” This assertion is deeply dishonest and easily disproven. As historians have exhaustively documented, early American common law (as in Britain) generally permitted abortions until “quickening”, or perceptible fetal movement, usually between 16 to 20 weeks into a pregnancy. Connecticut was the first state to ban abortion after quickening, in 1821, which is roughly two centuries after the earliest days of American common law. It wasn’t until the 1880s that every US state had some laws restricting abortion, and not until the 1910s that it was criminalized in every state. In the wake of Dobbs, social media was awash with examples from 18th- and 19th-century newspapers that clearly refuted Alito’s false assertion, sharing examples of midwives and doctors legally advertising abortifacients, Benjamin Franklin’s at-home abortion remedies, and accounts of 19th-century doctors performing “therapeutic” (medically necessary) abortions.

As the Guardian reported, anti-abortion fervor has not been motivated by the moral or religious beliefs generally cited by anti-choice activists. In fact, the first wave of anti-abortion laws was entangled in arguments about nativism, eugenics and white supremacism, as they dovetailed with a cultural panic that swept the US in the late 19th and early 20th century as a result of the vast changes in American society wrought by the conflict. This panic was referred to at the time in shorthand as “race suicide.”

The increasing traction today of the far-right “great replacement theory”, which contends that there is a global conspiracy to replace white people with people of color, and has explicitly motivated white supremacist massacres in the US, is often said to have originated with a French novel called The Camp of the Saints by Jean Raspail. Published in 1973, the same year that Roe v Wade enshrined American women’s rights to reproductive autonomy, it is a dystopian account of “swarthy hordes” of immigrants sweeping in and destroying western civilization. But there were many earlier panics over “white extinction”, and in the US, debates around abortion have been entangled with race panic from the start.

A post on the website of put it succinctly,” the anti-abortion movement, at its core, has always been about upholding white supremacy.” Women’s rights were collateral damage.

Of course, religious beliefs– whether seen or unseen, “up front” or latent, rooted in religious belief or racism– are not the only powerful influences shaping American worldviews. American culture also reflects popular understandings of the country’s constituent documents—the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights—documents that are widely venerated (although apparently much less widely read and/or understood). Religion scholars credit the First Amendment’s religion clauses, which mandate the separation of church and state, for America’s religiosity—a religiosity that flourished here at the same time that Europe was becoming far more secular. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits government from privileging the beliefs and practices of certain religions, while the Free Exercise Clause protects individual beliefs. As a result of the operation of those two clauses (for which the phrase “separation of church and state” is shorthand) the United States has nurtured a wide diversity of religions, including numerous denominations within the country’s dominant Christianity. As the foregoing description illustrates, there is no uniformity among them on the status of women, or the extent of female agency, or on the permissibility of birth control or abortion.  What we do know about religion’s influence on the status of women (globally as well as within the United States) is simple: the lower the level of religious affiliation and fervor, the higher the level of gender equality.

Tomorrow: The Legal Context


  1. Yep. Very big mistake to allow all those Catholics on the SC at the same time. Being Catholic has always seemed like a requirement. Very narcissistic as religions go. They’re still pissed off about Martin Luther.


    Good summary. I’m going to add that forcing children to attend their parents’ religious ceremonies should be grounds for child endangerment and jail time. How else would these souls be exposed to white supremacy, racism, the subjugation of women, including their wives and mothers to this thinking at such a young age? All the atheists in the world need to stand up and scream that our world is being destroyed by religious fanatics and take their power away from them. They should not and will not rule over me and treat me like a second class citizen. F* that. I’m sure Paul or any of you bible thumpers will respond but I’m not going to listen to his tunnel vision view of the world. I don’t care that I’m past child bearing age. The women fought before me and I’m going to show up and make sure we women get our rights back. We have less rights than a corpse so I have nothing to lose now.

  3. Don’t forget; this is the same religious toadies who committed genocide in this country and happily enslaved black brothers to clear the land. The white oligarchs also used the Chinese to build our railroads and were fine going to church on Sunday, knowing Jesus came from the Middle East. Not to mention the atrocities committed against the Jews in WW2, knowing Jesus was also Jewish.

    The dogma and structure of religion is a festering patriarch over the existing oligarchic power structure. It’s why imperialists use Christianity on the conquered and impose laws that man shall not kill other men. Who exactly?

    Well, those that just robbed you and raped your women. One set of laws for them and another for those they rule over.

    We continue to see our Secretary of State talk about this “rule of law” or “one world authority” as if the USA has dominion over the planet and its people. How dare those Russians or Africans or Chinese threaten our rule!”

    We are sick and infested with power, money, and religion.

  4. I needed this history lesson today.
    Over the last week, several ppl from my former church have sternly told me they cannot vote for me, a Democratic, because of (fill in the blank).
    When I remind them of how Republicans in Indiana have done much to hurt our public schools, and the poor families served by such legislators, these Christians snort “well itsvtheir own fault. Those ppl made bad choices!”
    Somehow, compassion for the less fortunate that Jesus advocated for is lost on ppl who socialize with others every Sunday from unaffected pews.
    God forbid an evangelical re-examine American history, (gasp- CRT!) read a book from a black author’s experience or meet a LGBTQ person for lunch.
    If I let it, my knowledge of the hypocrisy of The Church could really be depressing.
    In the meantime, my Quaker DNA keeps me looking for the good in others.
    Thanks for encouraging me, Dr. Kennedy.

  5. AgingLGirl; it goes beyond your comment “…forcing children to attend their parents’ religious ceremonies should be grounds for child endangerment…” It is the parents who apply for vouchers to send their children to private/religious schools where they are required to attend and participate in religion classes which is the same brainwashing which led the children of Germany to uphold the hatred and discrimination of all Jews, WWII and the Holocaust. The Catholic schools do not require voucher students to participate in prayers but what are statistics showing those who join in the prayers? The Indiana Supreme Court upheld ignoring the Constitution of the State of Indiana to uphold the blatant lie that voucher money goes to the parents of students, thereby making it Constitutionally legal. This puts the young female students in the position of being taught they are to be dominated by males at an early age. Continuing into adulthood and male domination is simply the logical next step into marriage and the work force. And the beat goes on!

    “It wasn’t until 2020 that Pope Francis changed church law to allow a somewhat expanded role for women within the Catholic Church.” This is a pitiful handout to female congregants, relieving males of dealing with low level tasks within the church while their lives are ruled by the church over their primary service in life to follow the lead of the dominant male in their lives and those who are married to “Be fruitful and multiply…”. The Supreme Court has extended that requirement to include any and all females who become pregnant under any and all circumstances. Be afraid, be very afraid of the outcome of the November 8th mid-term election.


  6. AgingLGirl, I can’t stop smiling after reading your moving and powerful post. While I don’t necessarily feel as strongly as you about the first few issues you raise, I definitely agree wholeheartedly with your latter points. No one will be telling my children–and especially my girls–what they can and cannot do with their lives!

    One caveat: I made a conscious effort not to push my own atheism onto my children, although I did not hide it either. They can make up their own minds.

  7. Values my left foot. How about all the religious wars past and present? Beth’s comments above speak directly to the hypocrisy of those who have blended politics with religion. Their “values” are false and only convenient to their bigotry. That kind of self-justifying tribalism has been with the human condition for 200,000 years and will never leave our social milieu in our lifetimes.

    Maybe a “second coming” would be perfect. I can see Jesus descending, looking around, shaking his head and saying, “Father, you really f***ed up. I’m coming home. There’s no hope here.”

    Of course, our founders sort of knew that all along. They knew that mixing religion and politics was an hypergolic (combustion on contact) formula for social disaster – just as it’s always been throughout history and across ALL continents – except Antarctica (so far).

    After a few hundred thousand years, why do you suppose humans are still dead set on destroying one another in this or that name? How come no prophets have descended to save us from ourselves? Hmm. I guess some fairy tales will never come true.

  8. Beth,

    Not to worry. The people you refer to here would rather sell their mothers into slavery than vote for a Democrat. That’s what they’ve been told since they first sat up. It’s not your fault. It’s the parents and the churches who simply cannot – and will not – admit they made a mistake.

  9. In truth, I have to say that the “so-called” religious wars were NOT about religion. Religion has been used for centuries by charlatans to achieve their own ends. Religion becomes the cause de jour simply because nobody will fight to give the king more money or territory or power, but nearly all will fight for their god. I will concede that, in many cases at least one of the charlatans was a bishop, but that doesn’t mean that god is responsible.

    Those Protestant denominations who ordain women have actually just gone back to the roots of Christianity, when many of the bishops visited by Paul and Timothy were women. It wasn’t until the second Council Of Nicea, that women were shunted aside by the Paulines who took over and wiped out references to women as leaders in the church.

  10. Thanks for today Sheila. Made me remember Randolph County’s famous Quaker, abolitionist, suffragette and temperance leader Amanda Way. Way was not a woman to trifle with! The Whiskey Riots is a story we Quakers grew up with in Winchester, Indiana. Way was one of the founding members of the first Woman’s Rights Convention held in 1851. The lndiana Woman’s Rights Association was a product of that convention. Way became known as the “mother of woman’s rights” in Indiana. In Winchester the State has placed a historical marker to remember this strong woman and Winchester’s Whiskey Riot. The marker is in front of the liquor store in Winchester. :- )

  11. Peggy,

    Not to put too fine a point on your comment, but the Sunni/Shiite blood feud says it is PRECISELY about religion. It’s a thousand years old and neither sect cares to stop hating the other. You should read the history of that feud. It’s stunning in its childishness and petulance. People die because of their playground tantrums. Amazing.

  12. Very informative piece. Thank you for the thorough background information. I am a low-functioning Catholic, always puzzled by Church history and current teachings. This is very helpful.

  13. It’s not difficult to refute the false Dogmas and doctrines floating around out there.

    Three of the major Abrahamic or Mosaic religions on this planet are very closely related. The Jews, the Muslims, and the Christians…

    The Christians call the first five books of the Bible the Pentateuch, the Jews call it the Torah, the Muslims call it Tevrat. You have the Psalms, and the Muslims refer to the Psalms as the Zebur. Then you have the Christian Gospel, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The Muslims call this Injil, and Jews really don’t refer to it much except maybe if they’re Messianic Jews.

    Sheila explained a lot of this very well so I won’t belabor that point. I appreciate the time and circumstance of her research!

    If you have enough knowledge and you’re willing to do it, refuting false doctrines and dogmas can change 15 to 20% of minds out there. But if you just go out and yell, it’ll be galvanized forever in the opposite direction.

    Muslims can’t stand Christians because of the Crusades, Christians can’t stand Jews because of Christ, and Jews can’t stand anyone because of the several millennia of persecutions.

    Getting to the long and short of it, the apostle Paul told the congression in Galatia, Galatians 3:26- 29 Reads; “you are all, in fact, sons of God through your faith in Christ jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither
    Jew nor Greek, there is neither Slave nor Freeman, there is neither Male nor Female, for you are all One in Union with Christ. Moreover, if you belong to Christ, you are really Abraham’s offspring, heirs with reference to a promise.”

    Acts 2:17 reads; “and in the last days, God says, I will pour out some of my Spirit (Paraclete) on every sort of flesh, and your Son’s and your Daughters will prophesy, and your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams,”

    There are many other Old and New testament scriptures that say the same thing.

  14. Most people have no trouble identifying religion as cultural for other religions but not for their own. That makes what their religion believes their reality. That certainly is good in some ways but can be dysfunctional for those whose faith is different.

    A trivial example. I grew up in a village that was probably half Roman Catholic, with the rest Protestant and Jewish. The Catholics did not eat meat on Friday then. Curious to us non-Catholics, just normal to them.

    There is no better example of the dysfunction of a theocracy than going on in Iran today and they are largely Islamic but of different sects. The sect in power wants to impose what they are taught to believe about women’s dress on everyone. That would be like in my formative years the Catholic majority in our village imposing no meat on Friday for everyone.

    As trivial as that example is, are unreasonable abortion restrictions profound to pregnant women. They are virtually incomprehensible.

  15. Terry F., substitute any other demographic group into your slam on Catholics and you’ll (hopefully) realize how inappropriate it is. Anti-Catholicism is alive and well.

  16. take the moral codes from each religion and look at the fine print. religion to me is how to follow that moral code. though one may say theyre spirtual, believes in god, set their case for how open they may be of their own code. religion has its place but when its used to suppress the goverment and people of the country they occupy.only then we have a problem? if said church allows dissent of the very democracy it uses to condem the goverment,havent they basically shot themselves in the foot? simple line,but if said church provides and teaches this,it must be as king geo the 2nd,(gwb} a terrorist org, and simple words that changed some like laws in 2003-4 made such talk to be watched by our goverment. ive watched local people harrased by local church goers to almost demand the person they are talking to,to attend their church. suttle,but very face to face in a fired look from the church person. looking at them. i seen a mental fixtation on their need to gather at any cost. seems the soldiers of such churches are from evangicals. ive traveled all over this country for 40 plus years, im seeing that persuasion being targeted and more forceful today. im standing in with the blue collars daily, this talk is prevelent in any place. stores,on the street,talking in groups about whatever, this isnt suits and ties,and the like,this is gritty in the dirt people. working class,and less than. over 50 some years of my life watching this, its become a dragons breath. im looking into the faces who spout their ideals. the ones killing our democray. they may be less than 50% of the electrat but they have been gathering people who have nothing else,and they want to be some one. where they land is the question. if you have seen changes in someone over their joining such congregations,then believe,that congregation may use god as a whipping post. this may seem out there,but its now,and its voting the next two election cycles. call em out,get the gloves on,im standing them in have read my tiraids on being used and led to believe in the right sides bullshit. face to face,i call em out…

  17. Thank you ,Sheila. Excellent work. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s post on this subject.

  18. Excellent post–Proud I was raised in the UCC denomination and then Methodist. Glad my Roman Catholic father did not have his daughters raised in the Catholic church. He would go to his church and mom and my sisters would go to UCC. On occasions we would attend Catholic service, but not raised with their doctrines.

    Since so many of us have been raised in some form of religion, I am glad I was raised I guess to use a word a more liberal view. I am pretty much have a disdain for organized religion for many of the reasons you all have shared. They are fallible because they are created by ‘men’. I have also witnessed the pain people have suffered at the hands of religion through my friends and working in psychiatry. There is a lot of personal pain and a lot of rewiring needed for those to heal.

  19. All over fairy tales. Adults who believe in Santa Claus.

    If Jesus existed, he would indeed be weeping.

  20. Elaine; your comment that so many of us have been raised in some form of religion brought back a memory from when I was 13 or 14 years old. My mother SENT me to the neighborhood Methodist church every Sunday from the time I was 9-10 years old. Neither parent attended any church till my mother got involved in local Republican politics; they met at the Union Congregational Church which was also the neighborhood polling place and she began attending regularly. One Sunday she asked me to go to church with her; I was so happy she wanted me to go to church with her…till we got there. I started to follow her to the sanctuary but she told me to go to the basement, she had volunteered me to help babysit with pre-schoolers while their parents attended church. Mom became the Republican Vice Precinct Committeewoman; I refused to go to church with her again.

  21. JoAnn–church was mandatory or us–mom was a PK. I was a UMYF leader, watched over the two year old Sunday school and briefly-very briefly thought about being a minister but I am not perfect enough and I have a major issue with hypocrisy. It was the late 80’s and I had homosexual friends and what I was hearing did not match my internal belief system and all the Bible studies I attended.

    My dad is Irish and so one day he had me help Murphy Oil soap and clean the pew of his Catholic church before Christmas. I have a warped sense of humor and I am laughing asking dad what would the nuns and priests think of a Protestant cleaning their church. LOL

  22. Once again: “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” Voltaire knew a thing or two.
    Fairy tales don’t come true, but the belief in them can lead people to commit atrocities, over, and over, and over.
    Check out this article from “The Atlantic” regarding the impact of the newest American fairy tale:

  23. Paul, anti-Catholic? With a majority of the SCOTUS declared Catholics? With the majority of all voucher money in Indiana going to Catholic schools?
    FYI: I am a lapsed Catholic, a product of Catholic education through college. I left because it was clear that working within was not working to change the patriarchy and misogyny. Within every Catholic church, watch who are given privilege and who does the actual daily work. My faith is no longer shaped by the dictates of a male only hierarchy who use their power and privilege to elevate themselves and suppress women.

  24. Terry Franzman; Right you are! My granddaughter married a Catholic Republican; first he convinced her to turn Republican and vote for Trump; took about 2 years to convince her to convert. She was required to attend weekly classes, using a textbook and then wait for the the church to decide if she was worthy of becoming one of them. Funny; I have always believed we accepted or denied religion, not be trained and tested to learn if God finds you worthy of membership.

  25. An insightful book on this subject is “Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation” by Kristin Kobes Du Mez.

  26. I am in the process of converting to Catholicism as my Philippine wife is as is most of the Philippines. Does that mean I’m accepting all the RC tenants? Not hardly. God knows what I believe and I’m fine with that as is my wife.

    On a different vein I have witnessed my Southern Baptist CULT “preacher” brother commit multiple violations of Biblical scripture including heresy, blasphemy and sacrilege. He was especially horrible at Dad’s funeral committing all three during his funeral. I have let him know just what I think of his “Master of Divinity” and his so called “Doctorate”. I have earned my degrees including a doctorate from legitimate schools of higher education. His have been awarded by by schools known as fake an/or diploma mills. My doctorate is from Oklahoma State University and the department from which I studied is in the top three in the nation. The other two are Berkley and Ohio State. Our paternal grandfather and his identical twin were both SBC preachers. They despised Billy Graham due to his mixing religion & politics. I’m quite sure of what they would say about Franklin Graham and the rest of the fake preachers.

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