Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Losing my religion for equality

Posted in News by Skepdude on July 22, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT THEAGE.COM

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT THEAGE.COM

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God is merciful, but only if you’re a man

Posted in News by Skepdude on June 8, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “THE GUARDIAN”

There is plenty to criticise in Islam‘s view of women. Last year, the Observer told the story of a man in Basra who stamped on, suffocated and then stabbed to death his 17-year-old daughter for becoming infatuated with a British soldier. The relationship apparently amounted to a few conversations, but her father learnt she had been seen in public talking to the soldier. When the Observer talked to Abdel-Qader Ali two weeks later, he said: “Death was the least she deserved. I don’t regret it. I had the support of all my friends who are fathers, like me, and know what she did was unacceptable to any Muslim that honours his religion.”

This was clearly extreme, but the truth is that the God many people believe in – whether Muslim, Christian or Jewish – hates women. Take America’s Southern Baptist Convention, which declares in its faith and mission statement: “A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband.” That’s fair enough, isn’t it? After all, he’s probably stronger than she is.

Or there’s the Catholic church. The Pope put things more suavely in an address in 2008: “Faced with cultural and political trends that seek to eliminate, or at least cloud and confuse, the sexual differences inscribed in human nature, considering them a cultural construct, it is necessary to recall God’s design that created the human being masculine and feminine, with a unity and at the same time an original difference.” The insistence on difference is the necessary first step to insisting on inequality and subordination and it is a step that popes have been taking at regular intervals for decades.

In November 2006, Nicaragua enacted a ban on all abortion, with no exceptions, even to save the mother’s life. The law was ratified by the National Assembly in September 2007. Both the original enactment and the vote in September 2007 were widely attributed to the influence of the Catholic church. In a report this month, the United Nations Committee against torture called Nicaragua’s total ban on abortion a violation of human rights.

Then there is Judaism. In one neighbourhood in Jerusalem, religious seminaries flank streets with yellow signs that warn: “If you’re a woman and you’re not properly dressed – don’t pass through our neighbourhood.”

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “THE GUARDIAN”

Skepnews – 8/14/08

Posted in Skepnews by Skepdude on August 14, 2008

  • Mob kills 50-year old “blasphemous” Nigerian man – A 50-year-old Muslim man, who allegedly made a blasphemous statement against Prophet Muhammad, was beaten to death in Kano on Saturday. The man was killed at Sheka Aci Lafiya quarters when some angry Muslim youths besieged his house and beat him to a state of coma. He was beaten and left unconscious before the police intervened and dispersed the crowd.
  • Saudi man kills daughter for converting to Christianity – A Saudi man working with the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice recently killed his daughter for converting to Christianity. According to sources close to the victim, the religious police member had cut the tongue of the girl and burned her to death following a heated debate on religion.
  • Saudi mother takes husband to court to stop marriage of 8 year-old daughter to 50 year old man – The Saudi Arabian mother of an eight-year-old girl is trying to stop her marrying a middle-aged man who made a marriage contract with the girl’s father in the province of al-Qasim, in the centre of the country. According to the Saudi newspaper, Okaz, the news emerged after the mother of the child reported her husband and took him to court to prevent the marriage from going ahead.
  • Netherlands allows polygamous marriages for Muslims only – Although polygamy is banned in the Netherlands, the marriages of Muslims who have several wives are recognised by Dutch authorities. Registrars in the major cities, in particular, record dozens of bigamous or polygamous marriages per year. These marriages are prohibited and an offence in the Netherlands. However, polygamous marriages that take place in countries where more than one wife is permitted, such as Morocco, are accepted, newspaper NRC Handelsblad reports.
  • Saudi woman arrested for driving a car – Saudi religious police have arrested a woman in the region of Qatif in eastern Saudi Arabia for driving a car. The woman was later released after her family posted bail, and will now be put on trial. Conservatives argue that if women were allowed to drive, this would lead to women being able to mix freely with men, to corruption and the destruction of family values.