Do the tenets of Christian fundamentalism promote the abuse and denigration of women?

Experts seem to agree that fundamentalism, the literal adoption of beliefs and tenets, of any kind leads to domination of one group by another. Religious fundamentalism claims as its authority the word of a creator and that authority is a heavy bludgeon in the hands of traditionalists who desire to control women’s lives and bodies. Unhappily, women who follow fundamentalist religions are ritualistically taught self-devaluation and to view themselves as existing only to serve men. The articles and books gathered here range the spectrum from strong modern-day feminists who are determined to go forward in their fight to expand women’s rights, to women who have struggled to unite their original religious beliefs with their need to recognize and incorporate feminist principles in their lives. There is male input asking feminists to step a little more cautiously on male sensitivities and information about the Fourth Wave, the newest movement which brings women’s spirituality together with female empowerment.

Researchers have also found that more women than men populate fundamentalist pews and in most cases parishioners of fundamentalist churches sit on the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder and educational levels. Denigration and at the very least psychological abuse are part and parcel of the patriarchal Christian fundamentalist religion.

Articles

1 .Baum, B. (2004). Feminist politics of recognition. Signs, 29(4), 1073-1073-1102. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/198589368?accountid=8289

The author employs as examples fundamentalist Christianity and the practice of female circumcision and the protection their adherents believe they gain from them. Baum asks feminists to take a more empathetic approach to predominating moral and cultural values of a region when designing their agendas for female empowerment. By focusing on gender norms based on religious or cultural traditions, Baum points out the necessity of being informed about the reasons why Christian fundamentalist women,and women of other cultures will often support policies and practices that appear to be against their best interests.

2.Coreno, T. (2002). Fundamentalism as a class culture. Sociology of Religion, 63(3), 335-335-360. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/216771507?accountid=8289

Thaddeus Coreno, Aassociate Professor of Sociology at St. Vincent’s College at La Trobe, Pennsylvania, presents and in-depth breakdown of the General Social Survey, its study of religious denominations and the “class anchors” and “cultural environments” which appear to determine whether a person chooses a mainline religion, or fundamentalism. While this article does not specifically address feminine issues, its is very valuable in citing the cultural, economic and social conditions that predispose women into joining religions that stress absolute and rigid beliefs over traditional Christianity, which frequently accommodates societal change.

3. Freedman, L. P. (Nov. 1996) The challenge of fundamentalism Reproductive

Health Matters, 8, 60-69, ISSN: 0968-8080  Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com  .

Lynn P. Freedman from the Columbia School of Public Health evaluates the threat presented by fundamentalism to the future of women’s reproductive rights and health. Her article is a strident call to parties involved in feminist issues to educate and arm themselves in order to intelligently confront the political force, vision and goals of religious fundamentalists across the globe. Ms. Freedman points out that the religious fundamentalist agenda is frequently hidden by programs alluding to empowering women.  We might be surprised to learn that the author includes religions most would categorize as moderate, like Catholicism, among those who seek to control women’s bodies and lives.

 

4. Layng, A. (2008, Women remain oppressed. USA Today, 137(2760), 65-65-67. Retrieved fromhttp://search.proquest.com/docview/214597004?accountid=8289

Professor emeritus, Anthony Laying ofElmiraCollegeinNew Yorkdetails the blend of ancient Biblical laws and those generally accepted by fundamentalist Christians of today. Professor Laying sees all religions, including Judaism as infiltrated by at least some fundamentalist sects vying for control. He maintains the fundamentalist retention of the belief that the Bible dictates control of women is a treacherous path and calls for those in western cultures to place more attention on the eroding of women’s rights instead of pointing fingers and criticizing the Muslim world.

 

5. Peay, P. (2005, Feminism’s fourth wave. Utne, (128), 59-59-60. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/217420035?accountid=8289 Award winning author, journalist and spirituality writer, Pythia Peay is included in this list. Peay writes aboutCalifornia psychotherapist Kathryn Schaaf’s epiphany after the 9/11 attack inNew York. Schaaf created a website named “Gather the Women” which expanded into a global networking of women’s groups.. The conferences held by the group are spiritual in nature stressing the interconnectedness of women through one universal spirit.

6. Ramdas, K. (2006). Feminists and fundamentalists. Current History, 105(689), 99-99-104. Retrieved fromhttp://search.proquest.com/docview/200756637?accountid=8289

Kavita Ramdas is President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women http://www.womensbuilding.org/content/index.php/kavita-ramdas  Ms. Ramdas discusses the resurgence of traditional fundamentalist values across the globe as male insecurities surface in the face of feminist confrontation of patriarchal systems. One of the consequences of making progress toward the empowerment of women is the fear of losing ground gained before gender roles become redefined and stabilized. Presently cultural roles of woman are still transforming. There are no boundaries and traditionalists are fighting to contain and limit them. An example is the Southern Baptists returning the word “obey” to the marriage vows of brides only. Feminists are urged to understand the dynamics of this transition and cautiously proceed without exacerbating male insecurity.

 

7. Sundstrom, Karla, (1997), Healing through responsible agency with feminist spirituality, Bulletin of the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, 17 153-9, retrieved from http//search.proquest.com

Karla Sundstrom ofConcordiaUniversityis an honours English major and a Women’s Studies major. In this article she examines feminist spirituality and the reality of it serving as a healing mechanism for aiding women in overcoming physical, emotional and sexual abuse perpetrated on them by the patriarchal society and traditional religion.  Many feminist spiritual practitioners believe all is interconnected and moves together. This interconnectedness will cause healing permeating for the entire universe. Ms. Sundstrom compares the divisions separating feminine spiritualists and academic feminists.  Among others, Sundstrom cites the ideas of Charlene Spretnak’s “Preface: The First Twenty Years, in the Politics of Women’s Spirituality: Essays by the Founding Mothers of the Movement” throughout her article. Ms. Spetnak lambasts academic feminists as having become self-censoring in order to function within the patriarchal system. In her article, Ms. Sundstrom brings together diversity by giving the reader opinions of experts supporting both sides of the question.

 

Books

 

8. Gallagher, Sally,K Evangelical identity and gendered family life, Rutgers University Press, (Jan. 2003) http://site.ebrary.com/lib/apus/Doc?=10075337

 

Sally Gallagher has received a Fulbright award for fieldwork inDamascus,Syria. An associate professor of sociology atOregonStateUniversity, her work includes research on gender and evangelicals.  In this text, Professor Gallagher delves into the beliefs and traditions of modern evangelical Christians, and the forces which have led to development of current attitudes and ideas surrounding partnerships and authority. Her examination of evangelical spiritual beliefs regarding God, creation and the roles of godly men and women, starts with background research into the history of Puritan and Pietistic views of family, gender, and work, and leads to the transformation called the American Evangelic Christianity.

 

Joyce, Kathryn, Quiverfull: Inside the Christian patriarchal movement, Beacon Press, Boston, MA (2009) http://site.ebrary.com/lib/apus/docDetail.action?docID=10275401&p00=religion%20women%20abuse

Kathryn Joyce is a feminist, free-lance journalist based in New York. Joyce co-founded The Revealer.org, a project of New YorkUniversity’s Center for Religion and Media and served as its managing editor from 2003-2006. She attended NYU’s school of journalism as a grad student and where her passion for religious-based politics was awakened.   Joyce investigates in-depth, a group within the evangelical Christian system taking its name, Quiverfull, from a verse in Psalm 127. Advocating retreat from society and government Quiverfill demands that women bear children as often as possible until menses cease. Followers go further than mere submission of women to patriarchal authority. Women are charged with marrying early, foregoing higher education and homeschooling their offspring. A major component female responsibility is passing on Quiverfull dogma to the next generation. Joyce takes direct aim at this system which is so oppressive to women, but gives sympathetic insight into the women who accept this as a way of life.

 

10. Pederson, Bettina Tate, Jule, Allyson, being feminist, being christian, Palgrave, McMullen (2006). http://site.ebrary.com/lib/apus/Doc?=10135644

Bettina Tate Pederson teaches eighteenth and nineteenth century British Literature and literary theory atPointLomaNazareneUniversityinSan Diego,California, in her position of Professor of Literature. She has also written articles on nineteenth-century women writers and pedagogy. Pederson partnered with Associate Professor/Senior Lecturer in Education atUniversityofGlamgoran,Wales,United Kingdom, Allyson Jule in this compilation of essays written by nine academians who explore the compatibility of Christianity and feminism. The authors do no see Fundamentalist Christianity and feminism as being antithetical to each other. Each one discusses his/her own conflicts and describe the difficulties they had in aligning their lives with what appears on the surface to be two opposing views.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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