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Chapter 8: Gender and Religion

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William Cockrell

on 13 November 2017

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Transcript of Chapter 8: Gender and Religion

Chapter 8: Gender and Religion
Introduction to Global Religious Experiences
Most religions are categorized according to two main characteristics: monotheism and polytheism (pantheism).
Monotheistic Religions:
religions that worship only ONE deity. Examples include Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
Of the examples listed, what do they all have in common?
Polytheistic Religions:
religions where there are multiple deities being worshiped. Examples include: Hinduism, Greek mythology, Roman mythology, Norse mythology, and Wiccan religions.
Monotheistic religions tend to worship one male deity.
Polytheistic religions usually worship multiple different gods of various sexes.
Religions that worship multiple gods are THOUSANDS of years older than monotheistic religions.
The oldest recorded cultures that practiced religion were Sumerians.
Female Goddesses throughout History
When we look at many ancient civilizations, goddesses were often associated with fertility (reproduction, life, harvest).
One observation mentioned by author Peggy Reeves Sanday is that goddesses are often associated with earthly origins whereas male gods have supernatural origins.
Our textbook author and Peggy argue this statement should be viewed as earthly gods (women) are conquered whereas we cannot harm unearthly gods (male).
one of the most popular female goddesses. Athena is a Greek goddess associated with reason, intelligence, and the arts. She is the daughter of Zeus. Being rational is one of her key characteristics. Holds many stereotypical masculine characteristics.
Queen of the Greek gods. Displays emphasized femininity unlike Athena. Goddess of marriage and childbirth. In an attempt to hide shame of Zeus raping her....she married him.
Egyptian goddess that eventually spread to various other religions. Isis was Queen of the dead, outcasts, and family.
One of the oldest recorded deities. Ishtar is from Ancient Sumerian and Mesopotamian cultures (think c. 5400 BCE). She was the goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex.
Monotheistic Trends
As far as I know, I have never read about a religion where the ONLY deity is a female.
Many cultures that used to be polytheistic religions were pressured into becoming a monotheistic religion.
Quite often, female goddesses were removed from canon and focus was placed on male gods.
Another situation was that gods who were "sex-less" were often changed into male gods.
Monotheistic Assertion of a Male God:
the global argument that religion has often been used to create male figures of dominance over women.
Most feminists researchers argue that religion is a major way that women freely accept various forms of subjugation.
Kimmel makes a great point mentioning "the Bible and other canonical texts are normative, prescribing the appropriate relationship between men and women, husbands and wives, parents and children." (Kimmel, pg. 224, 2013)
Remember, social norms are VERY powerful. If the general population shares a particular belief or value we can consider it a norm.
Normative Beliefs:
social norms that are so strong that they are typically not questioned (e.g., law and religion).
Christian Practices of Veneration
Original Sin:
the Catholic belief that we are all born with sin.
The argument is that since conception requires sex, children are created with an "evil" behavior. Therefore, they are exposed to evil behavior from creation.
This is one of the major reasons that most Catholic priests practice celibacy.
The vow that many religious figures (not just Christians) take to abstain from sexual relations.
The original celibacy stance was to simply refrain from having children. That way a child would never be "born from lust". Later purtianical beliefs viewed celibacy as all forms of sexual relationships.
Let's recap: what is the sexual double standard??
One argument has always been that the double standard exists because men cannot control their sexual urges (we are to not place any belief in this statement).
If men can't control sexual urges but women can...doesn't that give us support for the ordination of women? Doesn't it also argue that celibate men rarely succeed in celibacy?
Given the historical, systematic rape of Nuns and children, it is extremely harmful and naive to argue all priests stay celibate.
A non-profit organization that helps victims of sexual abuse by priests. http://www.snapnetwork.org/
Modern Religious Trends
In the past decade, massive changes have resulted in more religious people having positive opinions about homosexuality
2013 rates of
for homosexuality by group: Jehovah's Witnesses (76%), Muslims (61%), Mormons (68%), and Evangelical Churches (64%).
rates for homosexuality by group: Catholics (64%), Mainstream Christian churches (65%), Jewish people (79%), Buddhists (82%), Non-demoninational (79%).
a measurement of religious beliefs and values that was developed back in the 1950s. The creator of the term was both a psychologist AND seminary student.
The higher a person scores on religiosity, the longer they tend to live and the more they usually donate. They also tend to oppose homosexuality, birth control, and abortion the higher the religiosity score.
Representation of Women in Christianity
The United States is the most religious industrialized country in the world.
Around 95% of Americans believe in a higher power.
77% of women and 63% of men in the United States report that their religion is very important to them.
Of the people that attend church once a week, 60% of them are women. 70% of people who go more than once a week are women.
5% of American men report being Agnostic/Atheist whereas around 2.6% of women report this.
In African-American churches, women usually make up around 70-90% of the congregation.
Religious participation of women has been declining in the last few years.
Ordination of Women
Today, around 32% of students in seminary schools are women.
Different denominations have different rules on female preachers. Reform Judaism, the Evangelical Luthern Church, and the Episcopal Church all allow female preachers.
Prohibition of Women's Ordination:
Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) created this term and argued that it is infallable. When popes use this term it basically means "no questions about it, the bible is not translated wrong". Essentially, catholicism uses this as the rule to prevent women priests.
In 1964, the Southern Baptist Convention started allowing female preachers. In 2000, they changed their mind and revoked this stance. Hundreds of female preachers immediately lost their titles when the SBC made this decision which is still in place.
In the 1970s, the Pope of the time created a committee of biblical scholars to review the Bible. Their goal was to make a conclusive statement on what the bible states about the ordination of women.
The committee acknowledged no scripture states women should not be priests....unfortunately, no changes were made to the rules.
Nothing Wrong With A Pretty Boy
Unless it's an inaccurate depiction
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