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Women strive for larger roles in male-dominated religions

Cardinals, top with red caps, and bishops attend a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis for the closing of the monthlong synod of bishops, inside St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, on Oct. 28, 2018. (Claudio Peri/Pool Photo via AP)

(AP) — Women have been elected heads of national governments on six continents. They have flown into space, served in elite combat units and won every category of Nobel Prize. The global #MeToo movement, in 15 months, has toppled a multitude of powerful men linked to sexual misconduct.

Yet in most of the world’s major religions, women remain relegated to a second-tier status. Women in several faiths are still barred from ordination. Some are banned from praying alongside men and forbidden from stepping foot in some houses of worship altogether. Their attire, from headwear down to the length of their skirts in church, is often restricted.

But women around the world in recent months have been finding new ways to chip away at centuries of male-dominated traditions and barriers, with many of them emboldened by the surge of social media activism that’s spread globally in the #MeToo era.

Millions of women in India this month formed a human wall nearly 400 miles long in support of women who defied conservative Hindu leaders and entered an important temple that has long been off-limits to women and girls between the ages of 10 and 50.

In Israel, where Orthodox Judaism has long restricted women’s roles, one Jerusalem congregation has allowed women to lead Friday evening prayers. Roman Catholic bishops, under pressure from women’s-rights activists, concluded a recent Vatican meeting by declaring that women, as an urgent “duty of justice,” should have a greater role in church decision-making.

Many feminist scholars are challenging the rightfulness of long-standing patriarchal traditions in Christianity, Judaism and Islam, calling into question time-honored translations of verses in the Bible, Torah and Quran that have been used to justify a male-dominated hierarchy.

Social media is seen as a big catalyst in boosting activism and forging solidarity among women of faith who seek more equality. The #MeToo movement has been evoked — even in the ranks of conservative U.S. denominations — as a reason why women should expect more respectful treatment from male clergy, and a greater share of leadership roles.

“Women are looking for opportunities to have their voices heard and be more effective in their religious traditions,” said Gina Messina, a religion professor at Ursuline College in Ohio who describes herself as both a feminist and a Catholic theologian. “Using social media is an opportunity to say what they think.”

She co-founded a blog called Feminism and Religion that has scores of contributors around the world and followers in more than 180 countries. She also co-edited a collection of essays by Christian, Jewish and Muslim women explaining why they haven’t abandoned their patriarchal-leaning faiths.

“The perception seems to be that it is a feminist act only to leave such a religion. We contend that it is also a feminist act to stay,” the three editors write in their foreword.

Here’s a brief look at the status of gender equality in several of the world’s religions:

ROMAN CATHOLICISM
Catholic doctrine mandates an all-male priesthood, on the grounds that Jesus’ apostles were men.
A decades-long campaign for women’s ordination has made little headway and some advocates of that change have been excommunicated. Women do play major roles in Catholic education, health care and parish administration

While the recent meeting of bishops at the Vatican produced a call to expand women’s presence in church affairs, no details were proposed. The seven nuns who participated along with 267 male clergy were not allowed to vote on the final document.

Earlier this year, a Vatican magazine published an expose detailing how nuns are often treated like indentured servants by cardinals and bishops, for whom they cook and clean with little recompense.

At the University of Dayton, a Catholic school in Ohio, religion professor Sandra Yocum says some of the young women she teaches “are having a hard time seeing where they fit in” as they assess the church’s doctrine on gender roles and its pervasive clergy sex-abuse scandals.

“They have a deep concern for the church,” she said. “They want to respond in some way and take a leadership role.”

Messina sometimes engages in “small acts of dissent” to show displeasure with patriarchal Catholic traditions. At the recent funeral for her grandmother, she changed a Bible reading to make the passage gender-neutral.

“We have to continue to push — regardless of whether it’s in our generation or five generations from now.”

Rose Dyar, a senior at the University of Dayton, says she’s determined to team with other young Catholics to help the church overcome its challenges. The ban on female priests isn’t enough to drive her from Catholicism, but it dismays her.

“I absolutely support women’s ordination,” she said. “Unfortunately I don’t foresee it happening anytime soon, and that breaks my heart.”

ISLAM
Some of the most important traditions and practices of the Prophet Muhammad were preserved and carried forth by the women closest to him — his wives and daughters. But as with many other major faiths, women in Islamic tradition have largely been relegated to supporting roles throughout recent history.

Women in Islam do not lead prayer or give traditional Friday sermons. In larger mosques where women are welcome, they are almost always segregated from men in the back or allocated spaces on other floors with separate entrances and exits.

In Saudi Arabia, a male-dominated interpretation of Islam bars women from traveling or obtaining a passport without the consent of a male guardian. Only this year did the kingdom allow women to drive.

Changes are happening elsewhere. In Tunisia, President Beji Caid Essebsi has proposed giving women equal inheritance rights with men — a much-debated topic around the Muslim world. In the Palestinian territories, Kholoud al-Faqih became the first female Shariah court judge in 2009, in part to help women beset by domestic violence.

Some women are challenging interpretations that state only men must attend traditional Friday prayers. A few have chosen to create their own prayer spaces, like the Women’s Mosque of America in California where women lead the services and female scholars share their knowledge.

The bylaws for that mosque were drafted by Atiya Aftab, who teaches Islamic Law at Rutgers University and is chair of the board at her mosque — a first for a woman in New Jersey. She says moves in the U.S. to expand women’s roles in the Islamic community have sometimes been met with conservative backlash, but the momentum for change seems strong.

In Texas, Muslim women recently formed a group that has investigated and publicized instances of sexual, physical and spiritual abuse committed against women by Muslim community leaders.

JUDAISM
The gender situation within Judaism is markedly different in Israel and the United States, which together account for more than 80 percent of the world’s Jewish population.

The largest U.S. branches, Reform and Conservative, allow women to be rabbis, while the Orthodox branch does not. In Israel, the Conservative and Reform movements are small, and Orthodox authorities hold a near monopoly on all matters regarding Judaism.

One major source of contention: the Orthodox-enforced policy of prohibiting women from praying alongside men at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the holiest site where Jews can pray. Numerous women protesting the policy have been arrested, and several American Jewish groups were angered last year when Israel’s government backtracked on plans to expand a space where both men and women could pray.

However, there have been moves to expand Orthodox women’s roles in religious life. A Jerusalem congregation, Shira Hadasha, has adopted a liberal interpretation of Jewish religious law that incorporates women’s involvement in services, such as leading Friday evening prayers and reciting from the Torah on the Sabbath.

An Orthodox organization called Tzohar is trying to advance women in roles where social custom, not religious law, has excluded them — such as teaching Jewish law or certifying restaurants’ compliance with kosher standards.

“If Jewish law does not say that something is prohibited, but just because of social or cultural reasons women were not involved, we see no reason that they should not be involved, said Tzohar’s chairman, Rabbi David Stav.

MORMONISM
Women in the Mormon church are barred from being priests, leading local congregations or holding the top leadership posts in a faith that counts 16 million members worldwide.

The highest-ranking women in the church oversee three organizations that run programs for women and girls. These councils sit below several layers of leadership groups reserved for men.

The role of women in the conservative religion, officially named The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been a subject of debate for many years, with some members pushing for more equality and increased visibility for women.

The church has made some changes in recent years; women’s groups say they mark small progress. In 2013, a woman for the first time led the opening prayer at the faith’s semiannual general conference in Salt Lake City. Later that year, a conference session previously limited to men was broadcast live for all to watch.

Mormon women are still expected to wear skirts or dresses to worship services and inside temples, but the religion has loosened its rules in recent years to allow women who work at church headquarters to wear pantsuits or dress slacks and to let women serving proselytizing missions to wear dress slacks.

The church shows no signs of budging on women’s ordination. Kate Kelly, the founder of a group called Ordain Women that led protests outside church conferences, was expelled from the faith in 2014.

“We’re in it for the long haul,” said Lorie Winder Stromberg, 66, a member of Ordain Women’s executive board. “I think women’s ordination is inevitable — but I have no sense of the timing.”

HINDUISM AND BUDDHISM
The gender-equality situation in these two Asian-based faiths is difficult to summarize briefly.

Neither has a single supreme entity that enforces doctrine, and each has multiple branches with different philosophies and practices.

In Buddhism, women’s status varies from country to country. In Thailand, a Buddhist stronghold, women can become nuns — often acting as glorified temple housekeepers — but only in 2003 won the right to serve as the saffron-robed full equivalents of male monks, and still represent just a tiny fraction of the country’s clergy.

India’s Sabarimala temple had long banned women and girls of menstruating age from entering the centuries-old house of worship. Some Hindus consider menstruating women to be impure.

The Supreme Court in September lifted the ban, and violent protests broke out after women entered the temple. Earlier this month, women formed a human chain spanning than 600 kilometers (375 miles) to support gender equality.

“The Hindu temples at present have almost 99 percent male priests,” said women’s rights activist Ranjana Kumari, director of New Delhi-based Center for Social Research. “Things have to improve.”

SOUTHERN BAPTISTS
While many Protestant denominations now ordain women, the largest in the U.S. — the Southern Baptist Convention — is among those that don’t. It advocates that women submit to male leadership in their church and to a husband’s leadership at home.

Southern Baptist leaders say this doctrine aligns with New Testament teaching. One passage they cite quotes the Apostle Paul as writing, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man.”

A recent statement from SBC leadership insisted that Southern Baptists “are not anti-woman.”

“However, because Scripture speaks specifically to the role of pastor, churches are under a moral imperative to be guided by that teaching, rather than the shifting opinions of human cultures.”

Cheryl Summers, a former Southern Baptist who has challenged the church to improve its treatment of women, describes this gender doctrine as “tortured logic” — especially given the accomplishments of SBC women in the secular world.

“There’s tremendous cognitive dissonance for a woman of faith who is leading professionally or through volunteer efforts when she experiences the glass ceiling and walls in her place of worship,” Summers said via email.

For the past year, the SBC has been roiled by a series of sexual misconduct cases involving churches and seminaries, prompting some activist women to demand new anti-abuse policies.

(Associated Press writers Aya Batrawy in Dubai, Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City, Ashok Sharma in New Delhi, Ilan Ben Zion in Jerusalem and Grant Peck in Bangkok contributed to this report.)

About the author

David Crary

56 Comments

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  • Religious institutions might need women more than women need them. Women put in volunteer hours. Women donate money. Women fill low-paid clerical positions. Without these and other contributions I have missed or forgotten, the religious institutions and the men who run them would not succeed as well as they do, or would not succeed at all.

  • Islam and it laws give women almost no rights and treats them like fodder for the male species as so bluntly noted by Ayaan Hirsi Ali in her autobiography, Infidel.

    “Thus begins the extraordinary story of a woman born into a family of desert nomads, circumcised as a child, educated by radical imams in Kenya and Saudi Arabia, taught to believe that if she uncovered her hair, terrible tragedies would ensue. It’s a story that, with a few different twists, really could have led to a wretched life and a lonely death, as her grandmother warned. But instead, Hirsi Ali escaped — and transformed herself into an internationally renowned spokeswoman for the rights of Muslim women.”
    ref: Washington Post book review.

    some excerpts:

    p. 47 paperback issue:

    “Some of the Saudi women in our neighborhood were regularly beaten by their husbands. You could hear them at night. Their screams resounded across the courtyards. “No! Please! By Allah!”

    p.68:

    “The Pakistanis were Muslims but they too had castes. The Untouchable girls, both Indian and Pakistani were darker skin. The others would not play with them because they were untouchable. We thought that was funny because of course they were touchable: we touched them see? but also horrifying to think of yourself as untouchable, desp-icable to the human race.”

    p.309

    “Between October 2004 and May 2005, eleven Muslim girls were killed by their families in just two regions (there are 20 regions in Holland). After that, people stopped telling me I was exaggerating.”

    p. 347

    “The kind of thinking I saw in Saudi Arabia and among the Brotherhood of Kenya and Somalia, is incompatible with human rights and liberal values. It preserves the feudal mind-set based on tribal concepts of honor and shame. It rests on self-deception, hyprocricy, and double standards. It relies on the technologial advances of the West while pretending to ignore their origin in Western thinking. This mind-set makes the transition to modernity very painful for all who practice Islam”.

  • Anti-female comments in “Paul’s” epistles and why women have so much trouble dealing with men and religion:

    8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.
    9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
    10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
    11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
    12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
    13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
    14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
    15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
    ( Timothy 2:8-15 KJV)”

    “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35)”

    “He (Paul) feared the turn-on of women’s voices as much as the sight of their hair and skin….. At one point he even suggests that the sight of female hair might distract any angels/ “pretty wingie talking fictional thingies” in church attendance (1 Cor. 11:10). (from Professor Chilton’s book Rabbi Paul).

  • You really miss the comments at National Catholic Reporter as well.

    Women do a heck of a lot more than “fill low-paid clerical positions”, and if you buy that, you’re in an alternate reality.

  • One thing you left out – since women tend to outnumber men in churches (or so I’m told) they have the power of the purse to withdraw money en masse if they felt like it. So far they haven’t felt like it. One of these days that could change.

  • I would suggest that women pay rapt attention to something in today’s news. If Gillette, a mere for-profit corporation, cannot change razor ads to a more pro-women focus without conservative backlash, then REALLY changing any of the male religions for the better is a HOPELESS endeavor. I would suggest women write their own new religions. Seriously, as long as you are fighting other women (Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Michelle Bachman, Paula White, Sarah Sanders. Laura Ingraham et al) for spiritual control EVEN in the United States of America, it is time for women to stop trying to “break into” preaching roles to advance the same stuff that has made billions of men crazy.

    The start of this (with respect to Judaism, Christianity and Islam anyway) is a compelling and evidence-based argument that the story of Adam and Eve did not happen as reported. After all, it is really not that hard to prove that humans predate the scripture-documented timeline of the Genesis root. It is really not that hard to prove that the male-female model of species existence is not a religious construct. We need female-created religion which amounts to Be Truthful, Be Fair, Be Kind. We need it to be attractive to women everywhere, so attractive as to rattle the cages of all of the religious organizations we have now. What does that mean? Goof up the whole thing with a demand for radical atheism? No, that has been tried, and it fails disastrously. You need women believing in something—–not a mere insistence there is nothing worth believing in.

    Remember, you don’t need to convince all of the men, or even most of them. You just need to convince enough women to vote for sensible control of governments and corporations. It is hard to beat a call for “Let’s Get Honest About Earth and Life”.

  • I haven’t seen any convincing evidence that the story of Adam and Eve didn’t happen. Perhaps you could enlighten me?

  • You haven’t seen any real evidence that it DID happen as recorded. You haven’t seen a talking snake. You haven’t seen a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You have seen a couple of hundred years of modern science and anthropology. You do know the real reason why childbirth is a difficult process for a woman. You do know why snakes crawl. You do know why agriculture is complicated. Net, net, women deserve a more truthful story about who they are, how they got here and that they didn’t cause the Fall of Man by the first people eating fruit they were not supposed to eat.

    Everybody who is interested in Jesus, by the way, also deserves a more truthful root story about why they should be following his exhortation that we should love one another.

  • So, people who believe stories that involve talking snakes are fools?

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/nam/cher/motc/index.htm

    The Rattlesnake’s Vengeance

    Native American (Cherokee)

    One day in the old times when we could still talk with other creatures, while some children were playing about the house, their mother inside heard them scream. Running out she found that a rattlesnake had crawled from the grass, and taking up a stick she killed it. The father was out hunting in the mountains, and that evening when coming home after dark through the gap he heard a strange wailing sound. Looking about he found that he had come into the midst of a whole company of rattlesnakes, which all had their mouths open and seemed to be crying. He asked them the reason of their trouble, and they told him that his own wife had that day killed their chief, the Yellow Rattlesnake, and they were just now about to send the Black Rattlesnake to take revenge.

    The hunter said he was very sorry, but they told him that if he spoke the truth he must be ready to make satisfaction and give his wife as a sacrifice for the life of their chief. Not knowing what might happen otherwise, he consented. They then told him that the Black Rattlesnake would go home with him and coil up just outside the door in the dark. He must go inside, where he would find his wife awaiting him, and ask her to get him a drink of fresh water from the spring. That was all.

    He went home and knew that the Black Rattlesnake was following. It was night when he arrived and very dark, but he found his wife waiting with his supper ready. He sat down and asked for a drink of water. She handed him a gourd full from the jar, but he said he wanted it fresh from the spring, so she took a bowl and went out of the door. The next moment he heard a cry, and going out he found that the Black Rattlesnake had bitten her and that she was already dying. He stayed with her until she was dead, when the Black Rattlesnake came out from the grass again and said his tribe was now satisfied.

    He then taught the hunter a prayer song, and said, “When you meet any of us hereafter sing this song and we will not hurt you; but if by accident one of us should bite one of your people then sing this song over him and he will recover.”

    And the Cherokee have kept the song to this day.

  • There is a lot of physical evidence still in existence that Pompeii erupted. The only thing you are proving is that blind faith requires a total commitment to ignorance. That you have proved.

  • Really? How do you know you’re not ignorant about Pompeii? How is my story a total commitment to ignorance? They have the same amounts of evidence supporting each.

  • “They have the same amounts of evidence supporting each.”

    That statement is how I know you have a total commitment to ignorance.

  • “That statement is how I know you have a total commitment to ignorance.”

    And THAT is how I know you are totally committed to ignorance.
    See how effective my argument is when I don’t explain myself at all and just accuse you of being ignorant?
    Hint: It doesn’t.

  • Silent, not able to speak and submissive just because you are woman. Those are not anti-female dictates?

    “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35)”

  • The logic works just fine, as long as people of good will confine their logic to honest applications. The world is now suffering an unfortunate transformation for the worse simply because we cannot cleanse the fibbing out of three major religions with a common root. All of Judaism, Christianity and Islam should, at this time, be focused on kindness and good will toward men and women everywhere. The only reason they are not is retention of falsehoods at the insistence of very recalcitrant people who prefer the false and bad parts over the sweet and decent parts.

  • The world is suffering an unfortunate transformation simply because mental midgets think they’re qualified to kick hind legs high and accuse the three major religions with a common root of fibbing.

    Their qualifications to do so consist of an opinion and the ability to communicate it.

    These religious Lilliputians are their own worst enemies since all they encourage is the secular agenda.

  • The retention of “falsehoods” has nothing to do with it, but I am in full agreement that they need to focus on love and kindness, because the church can be very hypocritical in those regards.

  • Nice to find some common ground. For me, the route to kindness from church will be its willing acknowledgement that the Bible is a book of assembled writings by various men (not God) over a long period of time which happened to be available for preservation, that they are not a seamless unit, that they are not infallible, not inerrant (in either our Western translations or original languages), not all-sufficient, not a full exposition of all truth necessary for modern times. The New Testament is a correction, a fix for much of the Old, not just a vehicle for preservation of indefensible stories and ritual practices. I had this basic understanding about the Bible by the time I was ten years old in 1961. It is completely astonishing to me that there are any churches or independent ministries teaching anything else in 2019.

    We need Jesus because of our personal misbehaviors, not because mankind fell in the Garden of Eden. We need to treat other people with kindness, fairness and forgiveness because it is the right thing to do. Once they were taught an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth in religious error (not another “dispensation”)—-which Jesus thankfully fixed. We are supposed to be grateful for that change to better teaching and try to emulate it in our real lives. The first step is wanting to be honest about the source material.

  • I know we certainly have disagreements about the Bible, but it’s good to see that we both agree Jesus is a great practical example on how we should live. I myself do see a few of those traits in Buddha, even though I am not a Buddhist.

  • There are some people, I guess, who believe Jesus got some of his ideas by visiting or hearing about “the East”. I’m not one of those, although there is nothing wrong with us noting any overlaps of basic concepts such as various iterations of something like the idea of loving the neighbors. I personally think Jesus found that in what we now know as Leviticus 19:18——but what he did with it was to elevate it to one of the top two commandments and declare that all the law and teachings of the prophets were based upon it. There is no Biblical evidence that the Jewish religionists in Jesus’s time or any time before ever put Leviticus 19:18 over other teachings and commandments. And, as we know, they didn’t like him much for messing with what they thought they had down pat and in proper prioritization. That, to me, is another argument against the idea of “seamless” scripture.

  • I disagree, in the sense that loving God and loving others are a perfect summary of the Ten Commandments, and I know that the laws God gave through Moses were placed in high regard by the Pharisees.

  • I have heard before from others who say the Ten Commandments are interchangeable with the idea of loving the neighbors. Never worked for me, because (among other things) 1) the Jewish people would not have 613 identifiable commandments if ten were enough even for them, let alone us in a modern era, 2) The Ten do not address anything like the story of the Good Samaritan which was told specifically to illustrate who is a neighbor and what love for such a neighbor might look like, 3) prohibitions against stealing, murder and lying in Court are foundational in Western law, but most of the rest is unenforceable or unconstitutional for contemplated enforcement in any free society, 4) “Do not accuse anyone falsely” (or bear false witness against), is no where near the extent of truth telling required to actually love anyone, 5) the entreaty against covetousness is too convenient an argument for the idea that citizens of a democracy are not to regulate ownership law or place any control over how assets owned by others, including corporations, are used to either the benefit or the detriment of everyone else.

    I think too much room is allowed for skating out from under Christian responsibility if we say that doing The Ten is all that anyone needs to worry about. If that was the case, we wouldn’t need Jesus at all. The Ten had been in place for thousands of years, after all, and most of religion at Jesus’s arrival had devolved to legalism.

  • I believe that, in the context that Jesus’ condemnation to the Pharisees, he showed them that loving your neighbors is the PRACTICAL way of applying the Ten Commandments, as opposed to simply obeying them et verbetum like the Pharisees were. I think they had the exact same thoughts you had. They thought that since the Ten Commandments only said, “Don’t tell lies”, it meant that they could get away with just not telling the truth or saying anything. But see, their attitude was “What can I get away with?” and weren’t doing things to please God. THIS is what Jesus condemned them on.

    That is why I believe the Ten Commandments are what you need and that they serve as a good guide as a way to apply your faith in God.

  • It depends on what you mean by anti-female. In its truest sense, Paul’s words simply shed light on cultural standards of that time. It isn’t saying that women are inferior to men.

  • It might have been helpful if the Ten Commandments had actually said “Don’t tell lies” (in general). But it didn’t. It actually said (in KJV) “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” In modern translations, that is “You must not tell lies about other people” or “Do not accuse anyone falsely”. FAR more narrow. FAR easier to slip out of—–as many ministers found themselves doing for centuries on matters like “Is slavery okay?” Net, net, The Ten were not particularly helpful in this regard, even in religious circles. The American Bible Belt and the American Slavery South happened to be the same place.

    The Ten are not the least bit helpful in most of evangelical church right now on “Are humans and their fossil fuels causing climate change which will negatively impact people in poor countries?” I don’t have to tell you where most of the Ten Commandments worshippers are on that question, do I? I don’t have to tell you that the opposition to concern over climate change almost exclusively resides at church, do I? I don’t have to tell you that Ten Commandments worshippers are the only reason why women do not have an Equal Rights Amendment, do I?

    In the age of Trumpism, we have a president who is legendary for swearing, adultery, cheating in business, building architectural idols, on record with thousands of lies or misleading statements, and exhibiting a life-long disinterest in religion until he hoodwinked the Evangelicals. Worse, he shows every indication of believing that the main teaching of Jesus is only for chumps and losers. The 10C community thinks he is King David reincarnated. He even said he could shoot somebody on 5th Avenue and not lose his base voters, which is probably correct with these folks.

    So, although, you would like to sell me on Biblical conservatism and OT emphasis and how this makes better people, I’m sorry to let you know that I won’t be going along. The observable fruit from this stuff doesn’t fit the claims.

  • The Ten Commandments are only as helpful as your understanding of how God wanted his people to act. If you just look at the extreme details of every word, then you won’t ever understand what they mean. It is possible that they had a different interpretation of those words than you do. Just look at Proverbs 6:16–19 which says:

    “There are six things that the LORD strongly dislikes, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”

    We can see that “a heart that devises wicked plans” isn’t explicitly mentioned in the 10 Commandments. But we know that through these verses, especially as shown in Proverbs, the answer to questions about slavery all seem to fall in place as God’s intention is made known. Also, why do you bring up the Slavery South? They didn’t write the commandments.

    Secondly, the 10 Commandments aren’t here to satisfy your political agenda, nor anyone else’s. These things that God talks about are more important than “climate change” or any other hot button issue you can think of. I can also see that you’re starting to project in this paragraph, and you’re using your political beliefs to set up a cause-and-effect ad hominen to attack those who follow the teachings of the Bible. You also know that Christians have nothing to do with a “Women’s Rights Amendment” because it’s like personally attacking a Subway worker because they are a fan of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. It’s a pretty ridiculous argument for you to make. Besides, there is no need for such an amendment because the fact that they have rights is a given. If you’re going to do that, then make a Men’s Rights Amendment.

    I don’t know why you bring up Trump. I guess you just sort of have a pent-up anger against evangelical Christian Trump voters and thought you could kill two birds with one stone by opposing the 10 Commandments AND projecting your political opinions (and also making a blatantly false, sweeping generalization that all the “10 Commandment people” are deplorable Trump voters, and that 10 Commandments = Trump support) , I don’t know. Either way it’s hella confusing. Let it be known, however, that the reason many vote for him is because of his policies and his campaign promises that many believe will undo the mess that Obama left. This alone is enough for some people to liken him to a king.

    So… most of what I got from you is just associating the 10 Commandments and its followers (or Christians, if you want to be fully honest and straight-up) with everything you consider to be wrong in the United States. Just want to make sure you know that this is not a productive counter argument and certainly won’t get you anywhere.

  • Also, the snake and Pompeii are certainly different phenomena, but actually, Pompeii is no more verifiable than the Story of the Fall.

    And what do you mean by ‘completely verifiable’?

  • Yes it does as seen quite clearly by the fact that Catholic women are denied priesthood.

  • I’m not sure where it specifically says that but these show the roles that God has for men and women. They don’t mean that women are inferior, but that God has specific plans. I don’t deny that God could call a woman into becoming a priest, and that would be awesome because God called her into the role. We shouldn’t be putting women, however, into positions of leadership simply because there “aren’t enough women.”

  • Pompeii can be excavated and has been, revealing what took place there with the eruption. There is not going to be anything comparable for verification of the story of the fall.

  • Only verification for some. You have to buy into the theology first, don’t you? Two major religions (Hinduism and Buddhism) would claim that our faults are due to ignorance not some inherited sin.

  • Likewise, you can come up with some other explanation for the sediment and material that supposedly came from Pompeii.

  • They are not at all equivalent. Mt. Vesuvius has a long track record of eruptions and archaeologists were able to find volcanic ash. A nearby active volcano and a historical city frozen in time by volcanic ash are pretty reasonable indicators that this happened (not to mention Pliny the Younger also wrote about it). I’m not sure why you are picking this event as the one to demonstrate your point.

    That our nature is sinful isn’t a physical fact but rather a belief held by certain religions.

  • C’mon, Nathan. I don’t deny we have a sinful nature or that we need a savior because of our sinful nature, but Adam and Eve are not the reason. I call myself FriendlyGoat because my wife and I have real pet goats. One of them is a little male who is a “piece of work”. His self-centeredness and self-absorption are endless and, at root, just like mine. The only difference is that, as a man, I have been more educated in deviousness than even my goat, AND, I have also been educated on how and why to curb those natural bad behaviors with manners, a conscience, a sense of right and wrong, laws, law enforcement (if needed against me) and Jesus to help me do right.

    Why can’t we just have Christian doctrine that is honest about basic realities?

  • Of course. If we now know we are not going to kill people for religious infractions on the orders of religious clerics (like ISIS did), and WHY that OT practice was always complete baloney in the first place, then it is a short jump to dismissing as fable every other OT thing which has the appearance of being unreal. It is not only possible that Genesis was written by people who were utterly clueless about the phenomena they were trying to describe, but this is probable to almost absolute certainty.

    But that approach should strengthen our faith, not diminish it. Personally for me, I even would not be bothered if (if) the virgin birth is not a factual matter although I never argue against it because there is no purpose in trying to raise skepticism about that. It is not a matter that misleads anyone about natural history. But, for me, I don’t need it in order to believe Jesus can forgive my sins, help me to do right (or better), be a guide for our lives. A man who willingly went to the cross for the sake of others is completely good enough for me.

    If I had been raised in one of those churches which demands respect for all of the Bible as literal truth, I probably never would have accepted Jesus on a heart level at all. Really, for me, that is something I would have seen as a deal-breaking stumbling block—-as in, “You guys CANNOT be serious”.

    Well, later in life I was around some of those churches, where I sometimes ran into people who forced themselves to say such things in order to go along and get along. For me it was more heart than head. For some of them, I got the feeling it wasn’t. But I don’t say that to be critical.

    Over thirty years ago, we spent some time in a megachurch (about five thousand), which put on a big passion play at Easter (cast of 150, eight performances, alter calls following). We were new to that church and the city, and at about 35 years old, I decided to dust off my high school music participation and try out for the costumed choir.
    They let me in and assigned me a spot on the stage with the costumed “crowds” where I was within fifteen feet of our Jesus actor performing miracles and various other scenes from the gospels (prior to crucifixion and resurrection which our play also did with great realism). But I had this problem on stage several times. It would be time to sing a part during or between scenes, and I would find myself choking up with tears and having to only mouth the words. Our actor was sooo good, he was Jesus to me. The compassion, the forgiveness, the grace. I never forgot it, and I don’t today. It’s much harder for me when people muck this up with insistence on stuff which assaults our common sense, AND which, for the most part detracts from what we are supposed to see in Jesus alone.

  • In your first paragraph, I can see that you’re speaking from a 21st Century point of view. We have progressed with the times, so for you to question the validity of the Old Testament is kind of ridiculous because there is so much difference between then and now. Simply dismissing it because it sounds ridiculous means it would be, in your words, “a small leap” to denounce your faith in Jesus, because He wouldn’t have died on the cross for us had there not been the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden.

    I myself take the words of the Bible much more literally than my peers, and I consider it the inspired Word of God. This I believe in with my heart and mind. But I also know that you couldn’t be more right in saying that the literal/metaphorical interpretations of the Old Testament are quite inconsequential compared to the love and grace that Jesus has shown us. Like you, Jesus is the center and foundation of my faith. When I was a kid, I asked my dad if it would be ok for me to pray to “Jesus” instead of “God,” because I felt like Jesus could relate to my problems more.

    I don’t believe that any of the Old Testament assaults my common sense. It instead helps me to see the glory and majesty of a God who would make a promise and keep it. You may disagree, but I would suggest actually reading through the Old Testament before making a bold statement like that.

    However, I do agree that too much of the Old Testament can sometimes take our attention off of Jesus Christ, the founder and finisher of our faith.

  • He of course said I could, because Jesus is God. When I used the word “God” in my question, I was referring to God the Father.

  • I’m glad we agree on your last sentence. Most of Evangelical Church is now stuck with that problem and has made the same abundantly clear in their political actions. Our kids and grandkids will sort out the fruit of it all.

  • I can’t say I agree with that as it applies to the Evangelical Church, but I know that if a church says anything other than “Your political beliefs should be founded on the Bible” then I know they’re doing their job wrong. I currently go to a small Calvary Chapel church that is absolutely in love with God’s Word and enjoys studying in it, so I know it doesn’t apply there.

  • The problem we have with people founding their political beliefs on the Bible in the manner you suggest is that they tend to elect leaders who lie to them and all the rest of us on virtually every real subject. I can assure you that Donald Trump does not REALLY share your affinity for the Adam and Eve story, but 81% of the Adam and Eve followers have allowed him to be OUR voice of OUR presidency and OUR country with thousands of documented lies. This is not God at work. It is colossal hoodoo.

  • That’s your problem, FriendlyGoat. We have different views about Donald Trump, but we need to base our politics on the Bible. And if that conflicts with your personal feelings with the current Commander in Chief, then maybe the Holy Spirit still might have some work to do in you.

    However, church leaders should NOT be telling their congregation WHO to vote for. If you have an understanding of God’s Word and through that, believe that you should vote for Hillary Clinton, then go ahead and vote for her. You are following your conscience.

  • Indeed I am following my conscience. I actually do have one, and I have several decades of experience in close enough proximity to both economic and church conservatives to have learned the root problem in the game. People who fib about the Bible, fib about everything else. No elections are ever won for any kind of modern political conservatism in free countries without the religionists’ fibbing. Economic conservatism (wealth and power directed exclusively upward) wins nowhere without church fibbing. Islamic radicalism similarly wins nowhere without its own iteration of scriptural fibbing. It’s all actually the same thing with people bolted down to inaccuracies in a book addiction they cannot shake

    Upon your advice for me to seek the Holy Spirit for a greater appreciation of Donald Trump and you guys who worship him as a godsend, we are parting ways. Your grandkids will let you know that your heart’s desire to follow the p—-grabber was neither God speaking to you nor a good idea. Bye, Nathan.

  • I’m not saying you should have a greater appreciation of Donald Trump at all. You’re COMPLETELY missing the point here. I’m saying that your politics should be based on GOD’S WORD, whether it results in you voting for Clinton or for Trump.

    In addition, you have provided no such examples of people who fib about the Bible, so I’m not sure what that has to do with anything. In addition, none of those things you mentioned are caused by religious “fibbing.” They are policies and idea that can thrive without any religious cause.

    If you want to stay in your willful ignorance of what I’m actually saying (and make statements about Trump that are flat-out lies), then I will have to say goodbye too, because it’s no use talking to someone that doesn’t want to listen.

    Bye, Goat.

  • From Incredible India, born in India women are showing the way. Their fellow-sisters in the rest of the world need not remain content with their plight. They too can emulate the feat of their visionary and dynamic sisters from India. Millions of women in India formed a human wall nearly 400 miles long in support of women who defied conservative Indian leaders and entered an important temple that has long been off-limits to women and girls between the ages of 10 and 50. “Women are looking for opportunities to have their voices heard and be more effective in their religious traditions” – Gina Messina, professor at Ursuline College in Ohio.

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