Is it ok for religion to enshrine inequality ?

Morning, afternoon, evening, Peter here with news of todays WHYS on air at 1700 GMT :o)

Before we get to that a quickie about yesterdays WHYS — think it’s fair to say it was a spirited debate, yes, spirited, that’s the right word. Sometimes I (as your humble presenter / anchor / host) have to get people to shut up, and if they dont, there are times when I cant be too indelicate. We’ve laid out the ground rules, we’ve told them to behave with respect but sometimes it doesnt happen that way. Why am I not surprised by this :o) But thats why the words “PROFESSOR SCHHHHHH….!” were used, and used several times. Not bad manners, honest — just our desire to get the most, the best contribution from the people who’re on the show. Anyway, moving on:


Now, think of any big employer, any government run department, most (and I choose the word “most” there deliberately) political parties world wide, and it would be a nonsence for women to be judged less, naturally, well qualified to occupy any role, job or position, simply because of their gender.

So why can the worlds big ( great ? ) religions get away with it ?

Our hook for this today is the news that clergy members have written to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to say they will leave the Church of England if women bishops are ordained. The 1,300 clergy, who include several bishops, also want to have exemption from serving under them. But, excuse me for asking, what’s their problem ?

Is this one of those areas where the great and the good from the C of E will quote the teachings of the Bible, or is that just religious chaf, smoke and mirrors, to hide bad, old fashioned sexism ? Why would a female Bishop be any less good at being a Bishop than her opposite (male) number ?

Judaism too insists that men and women have very different roles in both the place of worship, and within a framework of social structure – and how that in itself is a function of the religion. Is that fair ? Why don’t Jewish women just say enough is enough ? The Jewish prayer book uses WE and OUR in prayers where some other faiths would use I and MINE. How can a religion that tries to be so inclusive, even down to its use of language, be so EX-cluding when it comes to women ? Or am I missing something here ?

Islam too has distinct attitudes towards women. It is a tricky relationship between women and Islam; defined by both Islamic texts and the history and culture of the Muslim world. Sharia law provides for differences between women’s and men’s roles and their rights. Muslim-majority countries give women varying degrees of rights with regards to marriage, divorce, civil rights, legal status, dress code, and education. Phew.

What do you think ?

If “religion” equals “tribe” – minus the trappings of religion – can the idea of being a citizen in your church / synagogue / mosque co-exist with being a woman? Let alone being a women at the top of the religious tree ? Why cant the big religions be courageous enough to reform ? Do they NEED to reform ? Why not just leave them the way they are – with a free get-out-of-jail card when it comes to women and what they can, and cannot do ?

As ever:



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152 Responses to “Is it ok for religion to enshrine inequality ?”

  1. July 3, 2008 at 14:17

    It is absolutely not alright, and to think people use God as an excuse to enshrine inequality makes me sick; Despite if people justify it through the word of God or not, it’s not alright.

  2. July 3, 2008 at 14:22

    Remember, slavery and racism have also tried to be justified through religious and biblical contexts.

  3. 3 Colleen
    July 3, 2008 at 14:24

    No I do not think it is OK for religions to do this. And in most cases i think these practices go against the true spirit of the actual religions. But as long as congregations keep accepting these processes (even if many individuals disagree) change will be slow in coming….

  4. 4 steve
    July 3, 2008 at 14:31

    Oh noooooo! Someone’s fairy tale doesn’t believe in equality! Fictional Sky deity demands unequal treatment, like Harry Potter might. Why doesnt’ some speak for Harry Potter and create some inequalities. I personally would like some inequalities in the name of Fudge, from Judy Blume’s “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.”

  5. 5 Julie P
    July 3, 2008 at 14:34

    Deep sigh. As a child I went to a small Catholic grade school where we were required to attend mass prior to the start of the school day. (As a non morning person this lasted only so long for me.) The Catholic mass required altar boys to assist in the service, but none of the boys wanted to, so the four of us girls in our class decided to do the job. This went on for months until the pastor from down the street learned about this. It wasn’t long before we were all called into the office of the Archbishop, including the pastor of the parish I attended. We were instructed that we were to follow the procedure of the mass to its literal meaning, which in the eyes of the Church meant no women. Innocently, I remarked, so because of one tiny chromosome we are unfit to serve? It went downhill rapidly after that. We are just as capable as any man to do what we want.

  6. 6 Justin from Iowa
    July 3, 2008 at 14:45

    Steve, I’m sorry, but sometimes… you’re an ass.

    Most religions have historically been patriarchal. Changing this often means changing the fundemental mindset of those religions. Knowing that, I find it more surprising that people are surprised at the static, patriarchal status of many religions.

  7. 7 Peter Gizzi UK
    July 3, 2008 at 14:46

    As an Atheist and homosexual I regard all religions with scepticism. I was baptised A Catholic but had that revoked by The Archbishop’s Office some years ago. I claimed baptising me before I was old enough to decide for myself was a gross violation of my Human Rights.

    Doing what I did would was possible in The UK. In other countries with other religions could mean total disinheritance, even the death sentence.

    Having said that we must not forget that all religions teach that “God is good!”

  8. 8 steve
    July 3, 2008 at 14:48

    @ Justin

    Well, I guess it evens out. I’m sure the Tooth fairy is a female.

  9. 9 Bob in Queensland
    July 3, 2008 at 15:00

    My father was an Anglican vicar and I was brought up with that religion. However, since becoming old enough to make my own choices, I now describe myself an an atheist.

    Part of this is my inability to believe in an all powerful god. However, another big factor was the backstage view I had of the intolerance of so many who considered themselves good Christians.

    The events you write of just help to confirm my opinion.

  10. July 3, 2008 at 15:01

    To those who say it’s not alright, let’s say there currently exists a relegion, which miltantly restricts the rights of men, women, children, homosexuals, dogs, cats and every other living, breathing creature on this planet, seeks to destroy those it calls infidels, especially those in the decadent West and now has a very significant presense in the north of Europe.

    If you haven’t guessed what it is, the name starts with an “I” and ends with a “slam”. Still don’t have it?

    And what should we do about?

  11. 11 Paul Rousseau
    July 3, 2008 at 15:03

    I suppose that if you believe in whatever your religious leaders tell you, then you accepting you lot in life.

    My problem is when some religious leaders use their status to enrich themselves at the expense of their followers.

    If you believe in liberal democracy/capitalism, you are accepting inequality.

    And, we have to be suspicious of those who promise to free people from the shackles of religious belief. i.e. the great communist experience in the USSR.

    Anarchists argue that the source of inequality is surplus. Once you produce more than what you need, someone will take that surplus and created unearned wealth.

    Some psychologists (likely operating in capitalist systems) argue that inequality if the basis of human relationships.

    Perhaps, inequality if inherent in the human experience. Perhaps all we can really do is to level the playing field with social welfare programs and other wealth distribution systems.

  12. 12 Erin
    July 3, 2008 at 15:10

    Religion is a baffling – and antequated – thing.

    Religion has never kept up with the times – be it societal changes, scientific reasoning, or politics. People viewed women has second-class citizens thousands of years ago, and the church hasn’t changed since.

    Contradiction in religion is not found just in gender issues: homosexuality, priest molestation cases, and other issues have all attested to that. I had a friend in college who was a devout Catholic. When I got my nose pierced, she remarked to me that I had “defaced my temple.” I peered at her closely and retorted, “You have your ears pierced. What is the difference?” She had nothing to say, but certainly got angry. Does the Bible mandate what parts of your body can be pierced? Doubt it.

    The frightening thing here is not that religion is archaic, patriarchical, and in complete defiance of logic, it is that educated people continue to let it be this way. In America, the same people that want equal pay for women and an end to racial hostilities give very generously to organizations that promote the very hierarchies and oppression they want eliminated from the rest of their lives. Most churchgoers do not question their religion or why it is the way it is. On the same planet where we have discovered the secrets of DNA, cured diseases and debated the merits of the various contestants on “American Idol” (or whatever “Idol” is on in your country), we cannot stop and ask why women can’t deliver a sermon.

    Blind faith my foot.

  13. 14 Tom D Ford
    July 3, 2008 at 15:34


    Of course! Religion has always been used by Rulers to establish inequality and maintaining that inequality is essential to their continued Rulership!

    Religion, also known as top down government by authoritarian father figures, is inherently unsuited to democracy, wherein people govern themselves as equals.

  14. 15 nelsoni
    July 3, 2008 at 15:40

    Human beings were born with certain basic, inalienable rights.
    however some religions tend to limit these rights in certain circumstances.
    Either by choice or otherwise we bring our selves under the direct jurisdiction
    of these religious tenets, so if we feel the religion fosters inequality, we can either opt out or get used to it

  15. 16 Mohammed Ali
    July 3, 2008 at 15:51

    Interesting topic.I grew up praticing Islam simply because I came from a tribe in Liberia in which the majority is muslim. I realized the huge inequality that is pratice in Islam. You enter the mosque, there is a demarcation between the side the men pray from that of the women. When you asked, the religious leaders tell you that’s how God wants it to be. They said that God created woman from the ribs of man. Women were made to comfort men. This is simply telling you that inequality is from God. God, according to almost all of the major religions, made man the head which is another sign of inequality. Islam women do not mix with men for any form of discussion. Women are forbidden from entering a cementary.

    When I did a bit of philosophy at university, my thinking on religion as a whole was change. How can a God who is described as a supernatural being who loves everybody equally subordinate one gender to the other? How can that God make women to be second to man in almost everything? How can that God allowed men to treat women as slaves? and many more questions have been coming to my mind. From then on, I decided that I will not pratice any religion that preaches inequality and since that time I am what some would called s free thinker. As matter of fact I don’t beleive in any religion anymore. They have gods who institute inequality and nobody speaks against it including the powerful world leaders.

    In politics women have proven just what they are capable of doing. I asked a question last night on the talking point for July 3 “Can Women Make the Difference Where Men Failed?” This question was based on what I have observed women are capable of doing in the business and political arena. We have a woman president who is making Liberians to know the value of their, something that the past 22 presidents, all men, could not do.

    I would just sum this entire topic up as this ‘The gods of religions are biased’.

  16. July 3, 2008 at 16:15

    “Is it ok for religion to enshrine inequality?” is a context question. If you are asking if they should be allowed to effect political policies and people outside their religion with their inequalities, then the answer is “no”.

    However, if you are asking if the state should be allowed to conduct its business without state interference, then the answer is “yes”.

    This should be a truth of all private organizations. “Boy Scouts” should not be forced to have girls. The KKK should not be forced to have a certain level of minorities on their staff. Strip clubs and Hooters should not be forced to promote males into their dancer and wait staff positions. If you don’t like the rules of an organization, just leave it.

    If a sky deity or Santa clause tells you through the sacred blatherings of some grumpy old men that came from the same area of the world as Osama Bin Ladden, Sadam Hussein, and the Taliban, that women can’t read them to the church, then so be it. The state should only ensure that people can leave the religion.

  17. 18 Shirley
    July 3, 2008 at 16:22

    Topic: It is not ok for religion to enshirine inequity between the genders. I feel that calls for equality demand that the genders be treated the same when they are, in fact, very different from each other.

    from the header: I know that yesterday’s guests were all talking over each other, but it was the cases in which the lady guest whose nameI couldn’t quite figure out how to spell was interrupted that bothered me. It seems to me that men feel much to free to cut a woman off, never let her finish her sentences, and disregard her views and opinions as inconsequential.

  18. 19 Venessa
    July 3, 2008 at 16:23

    Religion is archaic and designed to control people. Inequality is exactly what it teaches under the guise of a loving God. It fascinates me that woman are often targeted with the most limitations in these belief systems. I often speculate what the real threat of women is and why.

  19. 20 Janet T
    July 3, 2008 at 16:29

    I say leave God out of it- it is the human religious leaders (often men, sorry) deeming women to be lessor- and the stupid women that go along with it- and put up with it.
    Also growing up Catholic- I saw how the nuns were treated like second class citizens by the Church-it was stupid then and it is stupid now.
    Any diety I would want to believe in would care about the type of person I am- not my gender

  20. July 3, 2008 at 16:31

    For religion to survive in the modern world, it needs to adapt to its reality, especially when it comes to equality between men and women concerning religious practices. As men and women should worship God in the same way, women should also have the same rights as women in assuming religious responsibilities.

    But in the Revealed Religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam), men exploit verses showing the supremacy of men over women in matters of religion. There was also the belief that women should be seen and not heard as when they speak they shouldn’t show their faces and when they show their faces, they shouldn’t speak.

    In Morocco, there have been attempts to “liberalise” the religious field by appointing female preachers. Morocco has appointed 50 women as state preachers for the first time as part of the government’s drive to promote a more tolerant version of Islam. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4971792.stm . But it is still a long way for them to be Imams, that is conducting prayers in mosques or reading Friday’s sermons or become the heads of regional religious councils.

    There is still the issue of inheritance. In Islam, a woman gets only half of what a man gets when it comes to sharing inheritance after the death of a relative they are entitled to inherit.

    Religion will continue to be a dilemma when it comes to deciding between what is divine and mundane. It isn’t convincing to tell women to bear with the supremacy of men in religious matter because if they are good practising and acquiescent, they will be compensated for that in the after-life with eternal bliss in heaven.

    It’s a matter of habit. Now women can hold every top position, including heads of states. They can be in the armed and police forces and judges- to cite just some examples – to enforce the law, so why can’t they hold the highest position in religious matters. Partly, it has to do with the mentality of men who still see a woman deficient both in intelligence and spirituality!!!

  21. 22 debbie in Cleveland
    July 3, 2008 at 16:43

    HI Peter
    No need to explain yesterday – at least to me, it was indeed a “spirited debate” and you did quite well – even to the point of shutting off the mic…..that is why I wish the show was longer…………

    Religion to enshrine inequality? Nope,
    There is nothing wrong with women bishops and lest we forget the 11 disciples didn’t listen to the first person/women who came from a conversation with the risen Lord on Easter Day……I believe the threats are mostly real and they are sexist – no covering it up at all. Power does not like to share and that is true in the church too.

    How I praise God for our Presiding Bishop the Rt Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori, of the Episcopal Church here in the states – I pray every day for her – she has a very tough job because past church leaders couldn’t/wouldn’t do the work that needs to be done to keep the church focused on the mission and ministry of the church which includes ALL of God’s people.

    People, even bishops can quote the Bible all they want – because any position can be pulled from the words of the book….but when does that I wonder if they are doing it so they won’t have to “live” the words of justice and peace and love also in the Bible and many more of those words and job to do type words than the few words of hate.

    My God is still speaking and I pray for those who want to say things are final.
    I’ll keep them in prayers as I am sure they keep me in prayers.

  22. 23 Dee in Chicago
    July 3, 2008 at 16:48

    The sexism of the Catholic church is main the reason I left it. It is ludicrous for religions to regard women as inferior to men and the most effective way to protest these inequities is to leave the church.

  23. 24 John in Salem
    July 3, 2008 at 16:57

    The oldest Levantine religions – Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity – sprang from mythologies that evolved to supplant the older Goddess religions so their structure of male dominance is not surprising. The earliest city-states were centered around temples that exalted one form or another of male deities and the female was given the negative role; i.e., Ishtar became Lilitu (Lilith), a desert demoness that preyed on men, Eve got the blame for the Fall, etc.
    So when you try to change one of these religions you have to remember they’re not recent inventions – you’re bucking 6,000 years of highly successful traditions that developed with a specific purpose – to subjugate women. They’ve only made the concessions they have in order to accomodate equal education of the sexes.
    If you’re raised in one of these faiths and don’t like the way they do business then you either have to bite the bullet and live with it or ask yourself if their picture of the world is still relevant in the 21st century.
    Just don’t expect any miracles.

  24. 25 Robert
    July 3, 2008 at 16:58


    “If you don’t like the rules of an organization, just leave it.”

    But the point of the debate is what happens if the rules of the organization don’t let you join in the first place. You can’t walk out in protest or disgust if you were not in to start with.

  25. 26 Colleen
    July 3, 2008 at 17:01

    i think another thing that prevents religions from changing is the fact that when a member of a church disagrees with its practices often times he/she will just leave the church instead of actively pursuing ways to change it. As many of the other posters have mentioned, I also was raised Catholic but I no longer practice because of the many hypocracies within the Church and its hierarchy. I agree with a lot of the values I was taught but I dont see a need to follow all the rituals that Church leaders say “make you a good Catholic” especially within a framework that does not represent those ideals of social justice, equality, etc…! And because there’s no real direct consequences for dropping out of a religion in today’s world (at least not in the US) what’s the real motivation to change things?

  26. 27 Anthony
    July 3, 2008 at 17:04

    Well, if the boy scouts can say no gays and no atheists, then why can’t the church say no women in charge?

    Personally, I don’t like when women are in charge. In my town, the 4 times I’ve had women in charge, they always are competitive with other women, and treat other women like crap. It’s all drama drama drama when there are women in the work place (generally speaking).

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  27. 28 Jens
    July 3, 2008 at 17:10

    who is god to tell me to enshrine inequalities.

    thank the afore mentioned non-existened god that i am not part of any mass-delusional faith.

    how many years of injustice in the name of any religion do me need to take until people finally realize they might as well believe in trolls or grains of sand.

  28. July 3, 2008 at 17:14

    @ Robert

    There is something wrong with a person who wants to join an organization that discriminates against them. They are either masochistic or they are looking to promote their own agenda that in turn robs the private organization of their freedom.

  29. 30 Tamatoa Kollaart
    July 3, 2008 at 17:14

    Hi eveyone
    For starters I want to say that inequality is not necessarily a bad thing. Society accepts treating disabled people different than “normal” people. Therefore the question is wether a specific inequality is justified.

    All major religions claim to have had a revelation of God. As these religions accept God as the absolute for ever unfailing source of truth every religion would compromise and undermine itself if they don’t act according to their holy writings other words the very foundation of their authority and existence.

    Since the goal of every religion is to create peace on earth through the teachings in their holy writings the outcome or the results of these teaching. If the outcome is not in accordance with the religions goal – peace and stability within society – it is just to question the teachings. But since every major religion was once able to create a society that was stable and peaceful – see societies after Moses, Jesus and Mohammad – they have proven to be succesful. It is not irrational to think they can do it again.

    As an individual it is still possible to get inspired by the Holy writings because the laws or teachings of love, compassion and sacrifice are still applicable to the individual and lead to happiness.

    Religion has proven to be of benefit for society during its time and profitable for the individual irrelevant of time and space. If this pattern continues then a new religion could emerge fitting for this age.
    Should science be the new “Holy Writings” that is able to lead society to peace and happiness? Modern science has existed for about 300 years. Was it able to bring peace and happiness to the world? It was able to advance the develop prior unimaginable tools for the material welfare of society. But does it have the social and spiritual tools or teachings for our social welfare? In my eyes, they don’t. The world is getting more corrupt every day. The world society gets lost and fails in its attempts to find laws to erradicate social injustice. Social science had its chance to develop society and it failed. Something dramatically new has to emerge. I think we need a new kind of authority to lead the way. Something like the only thing in human history that was able bring peace and leadership and guidance, something like religion. At the moment it feels like we’re stewing in our own filth.

    If religious autority turns into dogmas society deteriorates. On the other hand, how can science claim authority when it has to obey the paradigm of relativity?

    I know that I’ve written too much. But who cares since nobody will read all the way to the end anyway 🙂

  30. 31 jamily5
    July 3, 2008 at 17:15

    Each religion is dictated by aHholy text and that Holy text is prescribed by God — at least in Judism, christianity and Islam.
    With this in mind,
    people can not just “change” the texts, as will and call it the same religion.
    However, if, by reviewing the texts, you find that there has been some misunderstandings by the people, then, of course, a revision is necessary.
    If you believe that God, as your father, has given you this text as a guide for living… … then, of course, you will follow and agree with everything in it… … not because you understand it all, but because you trust that you father knows what is best for you.
    Of course, in this case, I am using “Father” as it relates to God in the three religions mentioned above.
    Maybe a more important question is:
    “where, exactly, do you think that religious texts have been incorrectly interpretted?”

    “How, do you think, most people misinterpret Holy texts and for what advantage?”
    But, of course, this would have to be answered by people who believe that the texts are God’s word and not the word of man.
    So then the question might be asked:
    “Do you believe that God’s word is being misinterpreted by scholars and religous leaders … and in what way?”

    Maybe another important question would be:
    “if the religious text that you believe in tells you to act in certain ways that don’t make sense to you: do you obey them, regardless of your own thoughts and feelings – or do you only obey those parts that you understand?”
    when it comes down to it: muslims don’t feel that the Quran espouses inequality:
    just as the Christians don’t believe that the bible degrades women.
    those who don’t believe in Holy texts, might be more critical in their examinations of them.
    If a christian did feel that the bible was unjust or unfair, then, they probably would use their free will and reject Christianity.
    Since church and State are divided in most christian nations:
    I wonder if this question is speaking to nonChristian religions, more.
    I ask this because if, for example, one believes that Islam is more unequitable, then, it would have a more broad effect since Governments operate within Sharia law.

  31. 32 Anthony
    July 3, 2008 at 17:17

    @ Jens

    Religion is just the excuse. There will be unjustice no matter what :). If it wasn’t faith based, believe me, they would find another reason.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  32. 33 Moses S. Pyne
    July 3, 2008 at 17:17

    From my Christian background, I will emphatically say that it is just and fair for religion to enshrine inequality in its worship. I say this because the basis of God’s creation of the universe solely centers around inequality.

    According to the first book of the Holy Bible (Genesis ), God created Man upon the completion of the creation of the universe. Afterward He made Woman from the rib of Adam whom God Himself referred to as the head. Here God disregarded the state of having the same rights, opportunities, or advantages which are embedded in the word equality. In fact it is unequivocally clear that the world is not equal or level.

    God did not make any mistake in his creation. What would have happened if God had created all mankind equal? How would this world look like had everyone had the same ability,the same profession, the same skills and the same talent? Who would have served the other?

    God purpose is not for the kind of equality we advocate in the secular world. This is why today the world is being poluted with conflicts in most of the nations,in our homes,in our communities,in our workplaces, and every where. This is because modern democracy introduces us to the concept of equality and child rights that are the basis for misbehaviors around the world.

    If we must make this world a peaceful place for ourselves,let us create an order, in which everyone will accept his or her status, position, gender, or color.Although we are all equal in the sight of God in terms of fair treatment, fair justice and security, everyone of us has a particular status and a place that we must accept and improve upon.

    In conclusion, inequality started from the creation of the universe. That is why all the things in the world including trees, rocks, rivers, mountains, nations,continents,and even living things are not equally equal. Therefore, all genuine religions must create orderliness for the teaching of religious discipline in our one world.

  33. 34 Moses S. Pyne
    July 3, 2008 at 17:20

    From my Christian background, I will emphatically say that it is just and fair for religion to enshrine inequality in its worship. I say this because the basis of God’s creation of the universe solely centers around inequality.

    According to the first book of the Holy Bible (Genesis), God created Man upon the completion of the creation of the universe. Afterward He made Woman from the rib of Adam whom God Himself referred to as the head. Here God disregarded the state of having the same rights, opportunities, or advantages which are embedded in the word equality. In fact it is unequivocally clear that the world is not equal or level.

    God did not make any mistake in his creation. What would have happened if God had created all mankind equal? How would this world look like had everyone had the same ability,the same profession, the same skills and the same talent? Who would have served the other?

    God purpose is not for the kind of equality we advocate in the secular world. This is why today the world is being poluted with conflicts in most of the nations,in our homes,in our communities,in our workplaces, and every where. This is because modern democracy introduces us to the concept of equality and child rights that are the basis for misbehaviors around the world.

    If we must make this world a peaceful place for ourselves,let us create an order, in which everyone will accept his or her status, position, gender, or color.Although we are all equal in the sight of God in terms of fair treatment, fair justice and security, everyone of us has a particular status and a place that we must accept and improve upon.

    In conclusion, inequality started from the creation of the universe. That is why all the things in the world including trees, rocks, rivers, mountains, nations,continents,and even living things are not equally equal. Therefore, all genuine religions must create orderliness for the teaching of religious discipline in our one world.

  34. 35 Robert
    July 3, 2008 at 17:23


    Agreed you have to question the motives of a black guy joining the KKK. But what about women leading a church? The central doctines of the church are about (supposed) equaltiy of humanity and love for God etc.. and are not anti women. If a women believes in God and the church, why shouldn’t she be able to join the leadership of the church.



  35. July 3, 2008 at 17:28

    I can attest my religious denomination, the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, is the most liberal I know. The role of women in spreading the Gospel of Christ cannot be underestimated.

  36. 37 Anthony
    July 3, 2008 at 17:28

    @ Robert

    The same reason the U.S. tells everyone else who can have nukes since they are bad, when we’re the only ones to ever use them on people :).

    -Anthony, La, CA

  37. 38 jamily5
    July 3, 2008 at 17:37

    peple have a hard time understanding the difference between:
    fair treatment,
    fair justice
    In adition, I think that there is a difference between equality and equity.
    God has created us all wonderfully and each of us with different, yet wonderful qualities which should all be respected and appreciated.
    It is man’s human nature that uses these differences to propigate unequal treatment and complexes of superiority/inferiority.

  38. 39 Luz Ma
    July 3, 2008 at 17:47

    Hi! Interesting topic.

    I am a catholic and grew up in a conservative family (which means I had to attend every Sunday mass, special celebrations, etc.) In addition, I attended catholic schools.

    When I got married and move to Canada, I felt free from the obligation to attend Church. My husband is a catholic, but he never practiced Catholicism, so for the first time in my life I had the choice to go or not to go. I decide for the former.
    However, I really missed praying and exercising my spirituality, especially when I went through difficult times. I missed going to Church, but I didn´t want to go to a Catholic parish because I knew that the Catholic Church is a patriarchal institution that discriminates against women. I am completely against this feature of my Church.

    Then, I moved back to Mexico and a friend recommended me to go to mass given by Jesuists. I went to their service and I was quite happy with what I heard. All their discourse was inclusive, criticizing those who discriminate against any person because of their gender, social status, sexual preferences, political views, etc., and condemning those in power that maintain oppression in the world. It made a lot of sense, since Jesus was a revolutionary who was killed for saying that we have to love EVERYONE. For me was like a fresh start regarding my religion. From that day, I haven´t miss Sunday mass.

    So, I realize that there is a big difference between “religion” (e.g. Catholicism) and “religious institutions” (Catholic Church). Religions do not discriminate and oppress. Religious institutions are made of men –and women- that perpetuate patriarchy, oppression and discrimination. They have not evolved as other institutions (social, political, economical), but they are not far from doing so. Inside religious institutions there are groups that want a change.

    Of course, there is resistance from those who held the power in these institutions, but the same happened with the labourmarket, the political parties, the governments when changed started regarding women inclusion in these institutions. So I am optimistic and wish that someday we will have women and men sharing the leadership of religious institutions.

  39. 40 Katharina in Ghent
    July 3, 2008 at 17:48

    No, it’s not, which is one of many reasons why I left the Catholic church more than ten years ago. Religion/faith has always been abused by men to subordinate others, beginning at women, through to other tribes/races/faiths and down to animals and the environment. Until recently fundamentalist Christians saw no reason to protect the environment because God said that man shall dominate the earth (sorry, I don’t know the exact translation for this).

    A religion that is able to grow with its society and welcome new traditions is something that I can respect, even as an atheist, but a religion that wants to tell me that I still should life as if nothing ever changed in the last 2000 or 600 or whatever years, can’t play any role in my life.

  40. 41 Jens
    July 3, 2008 at 17:49


    at least there would be on reason less. the hatred over who’s god is better, bigger, shiner, more waterproof, holier, etc has brough so much hatered and ar to this world. the most ridicliouse aspect is that neither side has proof that their god even exists.so people are killing one another over something that is non-existened. i can understand, but not condone, a war over resources or land, but over fairytale books ans scrolles and some pseudo deities, give me a break?????

    i am getting sick when i hear “god has creat us all equal”. trust me he has created absolutly nothing, since there is no god. religion is the least euqal delusion humans could have come-up with. in fact they came up with this delusion to be able to differentiate themselves from others and to claim to be supirior than non-believrs or other faiths. there is simply no equal religion by definition

  41. July 3, 2008 at 17:54

    Hi Pete
    Akbar here in Tehran
    Women in Britain are particularly suited and highly qualified to be ordained bishops and more. There is a special quality in an educated English woman, far superior in academic achievement to her male counterpart, alert to the realities in the work place, the home and society, she has all the accoutrements for high office, particularly within the Church of England. Furthermore, the sensitivity of the English woman does not diminish her sense of judgment. I once heard the oracle say: “The square of Plato, beware of the trappings of office and women for the church.” It is as true today as when I heard it fifteen years ago.

  42. 43 Anthony
    July 3, 2008 at 17:54

    @ Jens

    The only reason you think killing, theft, and forced sex is bad is because of religion. If not, then it would be accepted :). If there is no God then it’s humans who have put a negative spin on the three 🙂

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  43. 44 viola
    July 3, 2008 at 17:59

    It depends on what you call inequality. Some religions practice what they consider “separate but equal,” a concept rejected at least in the U.S.A. with respect to race because it became obvious that “separate” ends up being unequal. Surely that is true in the religious sphere as well.

    So, no, it is not alright for injustices and inequalities to continue in the religious sphere. And it is not justified by claiming that a “special” place is reserved for the women.


    It is one of religion’s roles to be slow to change, as this provides at least some psychological stability for society. Many, many people long for a stable, predictable world and this is reflected in their resistance to change as human institutions adapt and evolve.

    On the other hand, it could just be that the men want to keep all the power no matter what.

    What always galls me when speaking to those religionists who “debate” me in their attempt to win me over to their faith is that their ultimate, triumphant (in their eyes) argument is some passage from the Bible or the Quran or whatever writing they believe is straight from their God. They never get the concept of not accepting as gospel what someone else wrote a long time ago. They never get the concept that, if there is a God, that God is so much more than what they believe; that God is, in fact, way beyond our puny human powers of description and understanding and may not even exist at all, may be simply a hugely influential and thought-provoking idea.


  44. 45 Will Rhodes
    July 3, 2008 at 18:01

    I will admit I haven’t read any of the other comments on this thread, this is because I will never err from the opinion that women should not be unequal to men in the Church.

    Christ Himself took council from a woman (women), and if He can do that, so can all churches, ministers, parishioners ad infinitum! End of story!

  45. 46 Jens
    July 3, 2008 at 18:02


    i do not need any religion to tell it is bad to kill, steal and rape. do you seriously think god told us not to do these things or could it maybe have anything to do with a higher developed brain and social structures?

    i mean if god told us so, why did we have the spanish inquesition, killing of witches, buggery of choir boys, the crusades, holy wars left right and center, mass destruction of jews. just think about all the attrocities commited in the name of religion………i am getting cold shivers just thinking of it.

    you must do a little better my friend.

  46. July 3, 2008 at 18:04

    @ Robert

    “the central doctrines of the church …” I often have this discussion with people when talking about putting merit in the words coming out of the politicians mouth or in the votes they cast, policies they enable, and bills they write. The church often talks about all men being equal under gods eyes, but that is open for interpretation.

    For instance it has been since it’s inception that the Catholic Church that women are not able to be promoted beyond senior Nun. If this bothers a person, don’t join the church. Start your own exactly like it. Only your church will let women be Pope if they like. If you already belong, petition the directors of the church for policy change. If nothing happens, go start you own church just like it. If people believe you are right, they will join your new less discriminatory church. (I will warn you at this point though that religion is about accepting with out question, so you will be conducting an up hill battle to recruit mindless brainwashed drones from their old establishment.)

    The unsaid question is that “if you agree that a religion shouldn’t enshrine inequality, then who should force them not to?” The State can not and should not get involved. In absence of a body who forces them to change, they will not. We might as well be asking the question, “is it right for poo to smell?”

  47. 48 eric
    July 3, 2008 at 18:05

    CHRIST accepts all who are faithfully to the scriptures. it is the purity of our soul, not the vessel that contains it, which the LORD knows and accepts.

  48. 49 steve
    July 3, 2008 at 18:09

    I’m curious, would WHYS have a show about how different groups play Dungeons & Dragons? That’s based in fiction too. Who cares what a group based on fiction chooses to run its fantasy? If you don’t like the rules, don’t be a member.

    After about the age of 7 I stopped believing in the tooth fairy, and I never believed in Santa Claus. Perhaps all of society needs to exit childhood and enter adulthood?

  49. 50 Count Iblis
    July 3, 2008 at 18:09

    Steve anbd Venessa have the right perspective. You could say that the question “Is it ok for religion to enshrine inequality?”

    is similar to the question:

    “Is it ok for criminals to misbehave?”


  50. 51 Lauren in Portland
    July 3, 2008 at 18:10

    Mainstream western based religions have always had an element of misogyny and patriarchy in their system. It seems to me that they are continuing to dwell in their phallocentric idealism of the past rather than accepting the fact that women are just as equally human and allowing them to practice their faith and worship in exactly the same way.

  51. 52 Elizabeth from Philadelphia, USA
    July 3, 2008 at 18:11

    Many major religious institutions are some of the strongest remaining bastions of inequality and repression of women. One of the primary reasons I’ve left the Catholic Church is because they do not see me as an equal. I was a second class citizen in my own church, and thus I am no longer a member of that church.

  52. 53 Mark from kansas
    July 3, 2008 at 18:12

    Men and Women are definately diffrent (Idont understand women at all). So is every one on the planet (Some twins aside), and in religeon like everything else a person should given oportunities based on their abilities and personality. Archaic beleifs in inequality have been around for millenia, and although we have made great progress in the last hundred ears or so, it may take the patients of many generations to adjust the worlds thinking.

  53. 54 Fifa
    July 3, 2008 at 18:13

    With the only female characters in the bible being either lofty virgins, prostitutes or bloodthirsty temptresses, how can anyone believe that the church does not discriminate against women?

  54. 55 Anthony
    July 3, 2008 at 18:16

    @ Jens

    I ‘m not talking about what people did in the name of God. Lenon got shot becuase some guy was obsessed with the “Catcher in the Rye”.

    Animals steal, kill, and rape. Are they “bad”? And if there’s no God, then we are just animals. So why is it “bad” to do the 3? Then taking someones life, and taking their money to help you and your family prosper (and less competition) is a beautiful thing and just part of natural selection/evolution right? When we die, were just worm food right, no life after death, so why does killing the weak matter?

    Athiests who can’t understand why a country would destroy a whole other country to take its natural resources and land is just silly then. You ever heard of survival of the fittest/natural selection/evolution?

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  55. July 3, 2008 at 18:17

    The status of women varies from one Muslim country to another. In Saudi Arabia, women are seen to be the most subjugated regarding almost every aspect of life. In Morocco, there are women preachers, but they can’t perform any religious ceremony, like leading a prayer or giving a sermon in a mosque in the presence of men.

    Many women of different faiths don’t care about their religious inequality as long as they don’t consider religion as a priority in their lives. They seek equality with men in mundane affairs like marriage, possession and responsibility.

    The women who feel the pinch of inequality are those who are religiously zealous and seek to have a say in their society at least by spiritually guiding other women.

  56. 57 Lauren in Portland
    July 3, 2008 at 18:17

    That is exactly the reason why I chose to leave the Mormon church. They held women in an inferior position that is outdated and ridiculous.

  57. July 3, 2008 at 18:18

    If anybody is interested “The Force” is an all accepting religion. It doesn’t care if you are male, female, both, have 6 eyes, tentacles, are a hairy wookie, or any body shape. All are accepted into the force and can become Jedis if they are true.

    Jedi ‘religion’ grows in Australia

  58. July 3, 2008 at 18:20

    Hi… As a young practicing Muslim Arab woman, I do believe that the whole issue is related to the status of the woman within her own family and society and the level of her education, financial independence, and self awareness of both the rights and duties her own religion implies on her… As a future doctor who’s living in a traditional Arab Muslim society I’ve always enjoyed the blessing of not being forced by my family to do something I don’t want to do… I chose to wear the Hijab or the headscarf willingly since I was eleven years old, and to me Islam is a choice and a way of life… I’m totally aware of both the rights and duties my Islam implies on me, and I’m far much stronger and more powerful than any idiot man who misuses or misinterpretes the Holy texts in order to undermine me or abuse my rights as a practicing Muslim and as a human being created by Allah… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna…

  59. July 3, 2008 at 18:21

    Religion in this form is less and less relevant in the world. When religion uses its built in facilities to feed the hungry, house the homeless, and cure the sick and infirm it does wonderfully well.
    It is when it claims that it is necessary to tolerate discrimination between men and women, or that it has the one true answer to the ills of humanity or even worse that the book it has is the word of god and all other books that make the same claim are wrong that it goes terribly wrong.

    Examples abound, the twin towers, burning witches, female circumcision, murder of f family members because the girl wasn’t a virgin on her wedding day. we all would do well to remember the golden rule and forget all the rest of the nonsense.

  60. 61 Des Currie
    July 3, 2008 at 18:22

    Hey Peter,
    There is a religious word which describes you best. The word is schmuck, I am not sure whether it is in the bible, not that it matters, I doubt whether you have in fact read any texts from any religious document for you to expound so pueriley on the subject. What were you hoping? That your wisdom was a higher wisdom?
    Lol. May I suggest that you spend a few years giving consideration to religious doctrine and principle before stepping out again in your blue suede shoes, or like a va nu pied, I am not sure which, so that you can learn to behave less like a
    dimwit when commenting on that you currently know not what. It gets so tiresome having to comprehend the minds of stupid people, like there would be some reward at the end of it.
    I fear that I must conclude there is not. Srupid people choose their stupidity. It their shield, a false one, but their shield nevertheless. Carpe Deus, choose wrong and you die. Tough one.
    Des Currie aka The Lion of Judah

  61. 62 Andrew - Australia
    July 3, 2008 at 18:23

    I often wonder why religion seems to feel that to enshrine inequality is appropriate when national laws (in rational countries) outlaws this. To say that it is the will of God or some other deity is no excuse as it is men that makes these pronouncements and not God. If there was proof of their existence then perhaps it would be a different situation. To promote intolerance and prejudice is not right in this age and should be stamped out wherever it arises regardless of religious or cultural sensitivities. Add to that the hypocrisy of those who live and thrive in nations other than those from which they originate only to use such bigotry and claim it is their divine right to do so.

  62. 63 Benjamin
    July 3, 2008 at 18:23

    I don’t agree how religions discriminate people. As a Christian, I don’t see anything in the Bible that Jesus supported discrimination.

    Personally, I think a female would rule a religion better than a man. Women are more calm and passive while men are aggressive. I believe if women rule all the religions then there would be religious peace, not the religious ignorance and bigotry that today’s religions are run. I think if women ruled, it would be the end of the male-oriented fundamentalism.

  63. 64 devadas.v - Kerala, India by email
    July 3, 2008 at 18:23

    remember religion has bought more misery to the world than natural disasters .this shows the inequality factor drives the religious factsto a large extent and in third world countries its ignorance and illiteracy too that breeds inequality.remember all religions are part of a piece and piece of a whole spectrum .one piece better than other is the big problem world religious scenario is facing .
    and within religion itself women are marginalised means there is greater wrong in propaganding religion without one or other part of human beings .ignorance,illiteracy and inequality has been the hallmark of certain major religions which if not changed will bring discontentment and inequality throughout the world.

  64. 65 Jason
    July 3, 2008 at 18:24

    Women and Men will never be the same. Attempting to treat them as the same is completely ridiculous. We need to keep this in mind. Should we put urinals up in women’s bathrooms? Tampon dispensers in Men’s rooms? Is that the end game people are looking for? What we need to do is stop this madness. Yes women and men should have equal respect. Yes some religions do not treat women well. Making women Priests should be up to the religions themselves. If they want to reform, so be it, the consequences are something they have to live with. Last I checked you could still change religions if you disagree with their tenants. That’s all part of living in a free world.

  65. 66 RS Rajput
    July 3, 2008 at 18:24

    It is an interesting topic.
    By historic and biological EVOLUTION the women have assumed and accepted junior, defensive and passive roles. Above all they have been DEPENDENT upon men for shelter, provisions and safety from predators (defence). All these tasks have been performed by men for hundreds of thousands of years. They are ingrained in our nature now.

    In other words women are weaker emotionally and physically. This must have some effect upon their ability to remain strong and unwavering and undeterred in time of crisis.

    With regard to Islam, less said the better. Even non Muslim men need to take heed. Their Koran blatantly uses the word “Kafir” so many times in very negative sense. One ought to ask, Why do you go to an INFIDEL doctor when ill?

  66. 67 ryan
    July 3, 2008 at 18:24

    God the father! son of god! bringing in gender equality into religion would turn religion on its head! ryan

  67. 68 jeff in portland
    July 3, 2008 at 18:25

    What so many people forget is that with the right to practice the religion of your choice comes the responsability to allow others to practice theirs.

  68. 69 Mason - Park City, Utah
    July 3, 2008 at 18:26

    Inequality in religion of all types, whether it be the sexist views often held in Islam and Christianity is only another example of how archaic a concept organized religion is.  Religious organizations can do a lot of good in the name of their god, however religion is the leading cause of death and suffering throughout human history, we as a species need to move beyond and recognize that the human race controls its own destiny, and that equality and justice for ALL humans is right, good and can be achieved, but not through blind adherence and obedience to Religion.

  69. 70 L. Walker
    July 3, 2008 at 18:26

    I second Justin from Iowa’s point, as far as steve’s concerned.

    No, i don’t think religion should enshrine inequality. it’s just another way to control the masses that is archaic and out of date.

    women are just as capable as men when it comes to worshiping the invisible man in the sky. a penis is not required. e_e

  70. 71 Luz MG in Monterrey, Mexico
    July 3, 2008 at 18:26

    There is a big difference between “religion” (e.g. Catholicism) and “religious institutions” (Catholic Church). Religions do not discriminate and oppress. Religious institutions are made of men –and
    women- that perpetuate patriarchy, oppression and discrimination. They have not evolved as other institutions (social, political, economical), but they are not far from doing so. Inside religious institutions there are groups that want a change.

    Of course, there is resistance from those who held the power in these institutions, but the same happened with the labourmarket, the political parties, the governments when changed started regarding women inclusion in these institutions. So I am optimistic and wish that someday we will have women and men sharing the leadership of religious institutions.

    Luz MG in Monterrey, Mexico

  71. 72 eric s florida
    July 3, 2008 at 18:27

    CHRIST accepts all who are faithfully to the scriptures. it is the purity of our soul, not the vessel that contains it, which the LORD knows and accepts.

    eric s

    melbourne beach, florida

  72. 73 Chuck Paugh
    July 3, 2008 at 18:28

    This entire issue comes down to whether or not one views religion as a democracy. Religions are based in absolute rules handed down, according to these faiths, by God. Man does not have the democratic ability to vote to change these absolutes else it is not a religion but rather a social club. Any religion that permits itself to be governed by rules of democracy is not a religion but rather a cult.

  73. 74 jamily5
    July 3, 2008 at 18:28

    Your wrote:
    They never get the concept
    of not accepting as gospel what someone else wrote a long time ago. They never get the concept that, if there is a God, that God is so much more than what
    they believe; that God is, in fact, way beyond our puny human powers of description and understanding and may not even exist at all, may be simply a hugely
    influential and thought-provoking idea.

    I don’t think that you understand that “religionists,” as you call them, view their Holy texts as “God’s word.” If they thought that these texts were inspired by men and not God inspired, then, certainly, they would not follow them. these texts are followed because they believe that they are mandates from God and not Man. certainly, Man wrote them, but he was infinitely guided by God, himself.

    thus, if it is not in the Holy text, then, god did not want us to know this.
    Conversely, what is in the Holy text, is exactly what God wants us to know and how he wants us to act.
    If God didn’t exist, then, how would he have written a text?
    If God wanted us to believe that he was anything other than what was in the Text, then, he would have said so and it would have been in the text, itself.
    I use “he,” because Islam and Christianity, the two that you mentioned in your post are patriarchal.
    You are not understanding that if you profess that you are a certain religion, then, the holy text of that religion is followed because it is a decree from God and everything that we know, everything that we should know, everything that god wants us to know, is all in that Text.
    What you don’t understand is why people won’t question “god’s word.” or if it is really God’s word, in the first place.
    Faith in a deity is hard to describe and explain, if you have never had such a thing.

  74. 75 Kathryn B
    July 3, 2008 at 18:28

    I think this is the problem with religion. People get so wrapped up in what one book says that they forget about decent human values.

    Kathryn B
    San Francisco, CA US

  75. 76 Kalypso-vienna, austria
    July 3, 2008 at 18:29

    i’m a woman, i’m 22 and a member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
    I personally believe that women should not be allowed to become clerics. it is the law of our fathers and this must not be broken. I am very comfortable that it is not allowed in my church.
    Kalypso-vienna, austria

  76. 77 Venessa
    July 3, 2008 at 18:29

    So affirming a difference between men and women is to oppress someone viewed as lesser? Wow, I sure want to join that religion!

  77. 78 Stefan in prague
    July 3, 2008 at 18:30

    Stefan in prague says,

    the biggest christian religions in the western world have used their religions to justify the genocide of american indians because they were heathens. Enslave millions of blacks because the bible says slavery is okay. Burn women that can read as witches during the middle ages. Invade countries because “god” is on their side. Kill homosexuals while they rape children, opress, torment, and steal from humanity. they are bigots, and indeed the true evil among humanity.

  78. 79 Ian from Arizona
    July 3, 2008 at 18:31

    @ Will:

    Excellent comments and thoughts Will! I agree with you complete.

    @ Jen:

    I agree with you that it is ridiculous that groups fight over the minute differences in their beliefs. I also agree that their cannot be an equal religion, by definition. Religion is belief and one will always believe that their beliefs are superior than anothers. However, that does not mean that woman cannot have an equal role within their religion, as Will mentioned above.

    But even without religion, there would still be hate in this World; their would still be violence; their would still be crime; and their will still be inequality. In your imagined perfect world without religion, the world would be a worse place than it is now.

    I think that it is interesting that you consider yourself open-minded because you do not believe in God and consider everyone else “nutters” because they do. Doesn’t that make you hypocrite because you cannot even admit to the possibility that there is a God? In your anti-religion beliefs, can’t you see the positive things that religion brings to the World?

    I must disagree with you in your statement that their is not proof of God. There is plenty of proof of the existence of God for those who are open-minded enough to see.

  79. 80 J. Hill
    July 3, 2008 at 18:31

    Religion is the single biggest cause of the destruction of Western civilzation. To focus on only one element of the religious doctrine that requires all human self-sacrifice is to miss the fudamental: self sacrifice is anti-man, anti-life.
    J. Hill

  80. 81 graceunderfire
    July 3, 2008 at 18:31

    Every religion does it. No, It isn’t OK. The usual target group is women. When I find one that is trying to change, maybe I’ll go back to church.

  81. 82 Nelson B California
    July 3, 2008 at 18:32

    Surely you know that God is pictured as an old man with a long beard, wearing sandals and walking about with a cane, because people have a limited ability to imagine such a phenomenon as the Creator of the Universe, which was actually the Big Bang.

    Man was certainly not made in God’s true image.

    Nelson B, retired physicist
    Oakland, California

  82. 83 Pat R
    July 3, 2008 at 18:35

    First of all I find the above title naive with no understanding of the role of the twelve apostles who were men and called by Jesus Christ to be his followers.

    World Have Your Say calls on everyone in the whole wide world to give his or her opinion. Because everyone in the whole wide world gives their opinion on religion there are more than thirty thousand different Christian religions all with differing views.

    The Twelve Apostles were given the mandate by Jesus Christ to teach all nations exactly what He Jesus Christ taught the twelve to teach. Woman were not given that mandate but that in no way even suggests that women are inferior to men.

    Women bring this inferiority on themselves simply by thinking without understanding the different role of men and women in the church and until women do understand their particular role there will always be confusion and resentment. Pat R Belize

  83. 84 Ian from Arizona
    July 3, 2008 at 18:36

    @ Lubna:

    Excellent point! I understand that we have to generalize sometimes but Lubna IS a religious women who feels the equality within her religion. It is the misinterpretation of God’s words by humans that cause these difficulties.

    I hope you’re doing well Lubna. Email me when you have a moment! I’ve got some great news to share with you.

  84. 85 John
    July 3, 2008 at 18:36

    While I respect the father’s belief that religion is divinely revealed, I have to support Ms Orr’sidea that religion is socially constructed. Correct me if I’m wrong, but early Christian’s, adopting cultural beliefs common in the eastern Mediterranean, believed that woman were incomplete men. Clearly, this places women in an inferior position that has nothing to do with doctrine.

    In America there has been a related discussion regarding the inalienable rights proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and “enshrined in the Constitution. While those ideas at first applied to only some men, others (men and women) took those ideas and applied it to their conditions. One could not argue with the result. Why then shouldn’t a similar process be accepted regarding religion?

  85. 86 Andrew
    July 3, 2008 at 18:37

    I think that it is okay for religion to dictate how it goes about its own interpretations. They are a private institution and they have the right to say how they live their lives. However I think if it conflicts with the State view then certain rights given to the religious organizations should be revoked. For instance here in the United States religious organizations are free from paying taxes and have other such benefits, use of public facilities etc…but if that religion doesn’t abide by the laws of the land then that is their own choice, but they should then have to pay taxes and not have access to benefits from the State.

  86. 87 Anthony
    July 3, 2008 at 18:37

    @ Lubna

    Hey there!!! I never heard how your final went? Did you pass with flying colors 🙂

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  87. 88 Carrol
    July 3, 2008 at 18:37

    Of course it is okay. No one is forced to join a religion. Different religious organizations are nothing more than “glorified” private clubs and as such are entitled to whatever rules they want to adopt via their charters (in these cases thoses charters are archaic texts of one stripe or another). If you don’t like the rules, don’t join the club. It is not incumbent on the club to change for members who are free to leave at their whim.

  88. July 3, 2008 at 18:40

    Relegion is an anchor for a people’s culture. Changing it to fit in with the “non-gender-specific” sentiment of the times would destroy its original itent, meanning and essence.

  89. 90 Tom D Ford
    July 3, 2008 at 18:40

    Does anyone know whether the Flying Spaghetti Monster is male or female.

  90. 91 AJ Averett
    July 3, 2008 at 18:40

    Good Day,

    As one who takes his Sundays with the Unitarian Universalists and considers himself a secular humanist, my view of the practitioners of “traditional” faiths – particularly those who call themselves “Christians” – is that they are Bibleists, rather than followers of the teachings of J’shua [whom they call Jesus]. For, after all, when one asks the question, for example, “What did Jesus say about homosexuality,” the answer is, “Nothing; not one word.” He did speak about loving others as one loves one’s self, the parable of the Good Samaritan being lost on most.

    For a great many, faith is used as a weapon and a means by which to control, indeed subjugate, others. A misunderstanding of the origins and meaning of one’s sacred texts is as divorced from reality as the assertion that the universe is six-thousand years old. The United Church of Christ, Reformed Judaism, Unitarian Universalism and other faith communities that incorporate both historically – and empirically – accurate principles will, in the long run, be those that lead humanity forward. Alas, much unnecessary hurtfulness and harm will be done in the short-term by those who subscribe to hate-based ideologies.

    AJ Averett
    Potsdam, NY

  91. 92 jamily5
    July 3, 2008 at 18:40

    Can people differentiate between religious institutions and holy texts?
    Respectfully, you know not of what you speak.
    Deborah, Jael, Ruth, Naomi, Tabbitha, Rachael, Priscilla, Sarah, … …

    American religious institutions, at one time, used the Bible to justify slavery.
    Did that make it right?
    Did that make it Biblical?
    Maybe a good review of the texts (Tora, Bible & Quran) are in order.

    Stay strong!

  92. 93 Mimi, San Francisco
    July 3, 2008 at 18:41

    It seems like people are taking such a small, almost silly view of what it means to be a vicar, or a stand in, for Jesus. Why does this mean just having someone who looks like Jesus, is physically a man? Why not have a stand in who is compassionate and decent to people, no matter what he or she looks like, or even have no stand in at all!

    Mimi, San Francisco

  93. 94 Sarah T
    July 3, 2008 at 18:42

    Can you please have your guests expand on what makes females uniquely unqualified for leadership in their religion? In other words, why does God not want them to serve in those roles?

    Sarah T
    Portland, Oregon, USA

  94. 95 John
    July 3, 2008 at 18:44

    Having a debate between faith and reason makes it impossible to come to a resolution. Ms. Orr and the father are speaking two different languages.

  95. 96 Abel
    July 3, 2008 at 18:44

    Father Giles,

    The idea that various religions are ‘direct mandates from the gods’ is a bit difficult to reconcile with the FACT that human beings compiled and deliver ALL the religious doctrines and texts. These beliefs and practices ARE embedded in societal frameworks and that cannot be escaped. As ideas of equity, empathy and overall positivity evolve, so too can religious practices. The bible was compiled as part of a political institution designed to concentrate power. Old, antiquated ideas need to evolve with concepts of justice and individual rights. Having different roles is not synonymous with gender differences. Additionally, are men and women REALLY that physically different? Think about blood transfusions, organ donations, etc.

  96. 97 Solomon
    July 3, 2008 at 18:46

    While I understand what the priest is saying, I have an issue with the idea that religion itself has a concept of making people equal but different. I myself am a deist, and maybe that is why I am slightly skeptical. The idea of “equal but different” seems to sound slightly like the “separate but equal idea” that people had in America before Brown vs. Board. Unfortunately, often in practice, people take ideals further then what the ideal case would be. Difference often ends up becoming discrimination, because in enforcing difference, you keep capable people from being able to fully exercise their abilities based solely on something that they themselves can not control. And in my mind, this just isn’t fair, nor right. I recognize that God created men and women for a reason, but I do question that idea the many religions have that in creating two differing sexes, he meant for them to be treated or act differently.

  97. 98 Tom D Ford
    July 3, 2008 at 18:47

    Let’s note that grownups put aside their imaginary childhood friends when they reach adulthood and learn effective ways to get along with others, they reject religion.

  98. 99 anon
    July 3, 2008 at 18:48

    The Mosaic scriptures not only rule out women for certain leadership positions, but also most men. For instance, only the Levites are allowed to serve in the Tabernacle, and only those Levites who have no physical flaws.

    anon amsterdam

  99. 100 Mike B
    July 3, 2008 at 18:49

    The opposition to women being ordained to any position in any church fundamentally means that a penis is required to be in a power position in that church. I am not aware of any teaching of Christ addressing the primacy of one set of genitalia over another.

    God created us in God’s image, both male and female. If the ordained clergy is a reflection of God, then it is imperative that the clergy be both male and female.

    Mike B
    Cleveland, Ohio USA

  100. 101 Abel
    July 3, 2008 at 18:50

    “When some women speak, paternalism doesn’t have a better voice. A woman can articulate a schovenistic perspective. A Black person can articulate a racist perspective, because the plantation is portable and their mouths can become freeways for it’s articulation…” – Michael Dyson, PhD

  101. 102 STuart
    July 3, 2008 at 18:51

    Father has mentioned that the bible says that a man was chosen by G-d to be ordained but don’t you think that the views of the world at that time was very anti female. The world had changed a lot since the time before and after Christ and the Churches of the world have to adapt to the times.

  102. 103 Anthony
    July 3, 2008 at 18:51

    @ Tom D Ford

    HAHAHA, LOL @ Flying Spaghetti Monster. Someone here besides me finds “Mr’s Garrison” HILL-AIR-E-US!!!!

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  103. July 3, 2008 at 18:51

    The early Christian church took the Feminine out of many of the existing religions of the time 2000 years ago by placing a male figure-Jesus- as the way to salvation thru to God. Up until this time many religions celebrated the natural cycles of death and re-birth thru the feminine.

    It is a masculine hierarchy that insist on keeping control over people by dominating half of humanities natural state, the Feminine.

    No it is not ok to enshrine inequality since keeping half of humanity down or dominated over keeps all of humanity down.

  104. 105 Elizabeth from Philadelphia, USA
    July 3, 2008 at 18:52

    To the commenter who said that women are more resistant to change in their own churches and are more conservative: This was an arguement by whites in the American south used to justify slavery. They argued that the majority of blacks actually preferred slavery. We all know that’s not how they really felt. Most women don’t prefer to be repressed in the same way, they are just not permitted to express this.

  105. 106 Fran London
    July 3, 2008 at 18:52

    How do those against elevation of women’s position o in the church know how christ would act were he alive in the world now? The teaching is 2000 + years old. Man has walked on the moon since then. We have mass communication , the net etc. Is it not time 4 religion 2 catch up ? Fran London

  106. 107 Roger. Prague
    July 3, 2008 at 18:53

    Intolerance is the devil’s work. So bring back the ducking stool and strap all intolerant vicars, priests, mullas, etc to it and drop them in deep water. If they float, it is the devil’s intervention. If they sink, well, that’s in keeping with religious historical tradition. Chairs. Roger. Prague

  107. 108 Ruth Liverpool
    July 3, 2008 at 18:55

    Why is a woman less holy than a man?
    What makes a man more holy ? Does god
    only see men as good .
    From Ruth , Liverpool

  108. 109 anon
    July 3, 2008 at 19:00

    Surpised to hear the tone of head line change when its not to do with muslims. Any way It’s not right. I don’t think neither religeon does this.

  109. 110 Alison
    July 3, 2008 at 19:01

    I don’t need some bishop or religious text to validate me as a woman. I know my skills and strengths. I don’t like the way most religions treat women, but I can choose not to listen to and be a part of that religion. If you disagree with the fundamentals of a religion, why would you want to be a part of it, let alone a leader?

  110. 111 April JC
    July 3, 2008 at 19:02

    Dear World Have Your Say:
    In my opinion, the persistence of the grammatically absurd reference to “woman” priests, also re enforces sexism.

    Let’s have grammatical equality. I never hear of ‘man’ anything. How many times have you heard of ‘man’ doctors? Never.
    Now, how many times have you heard the phrase ‘ woman’ doctor? Thousands of times! And this continues in this discussion today! Let’s use the two terms correctly and equally. Rather than referring to ‘women’ priests ( or for that matter ‘women’ doctors ‘women’ taxi drivers, etc) Let’s discuss ‘Male’ priests and ‘Female’ priests.

    This is an incorrect use of the noun ‘woman’ making it into an adjective. The adjectives at issue are “Male” and “Female”
    As a woman, this drives me crazy in every discussion I hear where this takes place! Why should men have the privilege of being referred to in a grammatically correct way?

    Thank you.

    April JC
    Portland, Oregon

  111. 112 Tom D Ford
    July 3, 2008 at 19:03


    We’ve had women command the space shuttle and the International Space Station, I think that women are far ahead of religions in proving to the entire world and explored space that women are fully capable.

    It is religion that is wrong and women that are right!

  112. 113 Dan
    July 3, 2008 at 19:05

    Hi All,
    Each make wonderful comments but there is inequality in all aspects of life.
    I do not think the religions are any different and some are made up of pure perversions.
    What I think important is the Holy Books of the Torah and New Testament and the underlying message of values and how to live.
    Must one belong to an organized synagogue or church to worship God? Does repeating the exact same prayers each Sabbath make one close to God? I think not.
    One can have a conversation with and worship God anytime and obey His laws without having to worry about the hierarchy of the religious institution.

  113. 114 Yan
    July 3, 2008 at 19:12

    A woman should not be a leader of a church. They is no example in the bible of a woman leading a church. Yan, Malawi.

  114. 115 Mansour
    July 3, 2008 at 19:12

    Religion against Women is totally unacceptable and unjustifiable. From MANSOUR of Monrovia.

  115. 116 jamily5
    July 3, 2008 at 19:12

    If we are just talking about institutions and not texts, as I have not heard anyone quoting texts:
    We all decide if we want to be part of a certain religion.
    If I don’t like the practices of a certain Catholic church, I have the option to either:
    1. search for another catholic church
    2. change religions
    3. not go at all
    4. use the Holy Text to advocate for change

  116. July 3, 2008 at 19:25

    When we think in terms of power and equality we miss the whole core of the Christian life. According to Genesis, male and female were created for each other in order to both be the full image of God and to portray God’s love in the world. It is when one gender claims greater authority over another rather than submitting to one another out of reverance and love that we get into these kinds of issues. As Philippians 2 :6 and following says:

    PHP 2:6 who, though he (Jesus) was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,
    PHP 2:7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form,
    PHP 2:8 he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death–
    even death on a cross.

    Whoever the religious institution names as their authority carries the biblical responsibility to see that all gifts and talents of all people are empowered and enabled to be used to their fullest – both in the church and in the world! Therefore, it’s not about equality but about serving God and one another!

  117. 118 Virginia Davis
    July 3, 2008 at 19:32

    Hello all: Missed this discussion. To the extent that I participate in organized religion, it is in Christian Science – discovered and founded and organized by Mary Baker Eddy. The Church is called “The Mother Church” and men and women have equality in her interpretation of the Bible and in her writings and in the structure of the Church. I also attend silent meeting – the Religious Society of Friends. Usually called Quakers. They also are equal in their structures, who leads, etc.

    So I don’t understand why all churches shouldn’t treat men and women equally.

    Virginia in Oregon

  118. 119 Jens
    July 3, 2008 at 20:27


    there is a difference betwen human’s and animals, in that we are not soley instinct driven. we have the ability to rationalize that it is not a good idea to just randomly run around kill your neighbors etc, since we as a collective are fitter to survive. this was already the case for cavemen, who could only hunt big game as a group.

    the suggestion that i have not heard of survival of the fittest theory/evolution must be a joke. this coming from you as a god fearing individual is actually funny, since you believe in talking snakes, people being turned into salt coloms, paradise etc. according to christian faith there is no such thing as evolution, since all is driven by god, hence it is designed.

    believe or not live as atheist is a little more complicated than the life of believers. believers have always the cheap excuse of god wanted it, it’s god’s fate, i cannot explain it but god knows blablabla. i know that i only know a very limited amount of all the knoweladge available, but sometimes this can be scary, but i do not have a god-crutch i can hang on to and let the unexplainable be unexplaind because god knows…..

  119. 120 Brett in NYC
    July 3, 2008 at 20:33

    No it is not alright , and I am so so thrilled the question is being asked on BBC. It is showing up in some more specialized magazines I read but it needs to become a THEME on BBC and everywhere else.

    It will be about time for leaders everywhere to recognize the political motivations around the editorial choices made about our Abrahamic Holy Books. These books are loaded with all kinds of -isms that have absolutely nothing to do with spirituality and Unity with any kind of Creative Force. Most of them are about the materialism and male dominance instincts of the men who sponsored the musings in native councils and later linear language in books.

    When the leaders of the Western traditions can start to understand and take responsibility for this then we can get somewhere with true faith traditions. I can’t speak about Hinduism, or any of the others because I don’t know them well, but I know enshrouded in those faiths also are Castes and other Sexist things. I know Buddhist and Taoist is much more about personal behaviour and right thinking for leadership than about dominating others. But, that is all I know.

    The texts need to be redacted of these things, and the Universal values that are hidden in there need to be amplified in all of these traditions. The world over the male dominant leaders have done what they could to subjugate women and take away the power of their unique talents, beliefs, worldviews and practices. The same is also obviously true men to men because putting other men down, enshrouding this all in language and codes is what gives men their identities and these so called Faith Traditions were created to enable, enforce and transmit that.

    We need to move beyond such primitiveness. The planet is too constrained now for artificial fights, blatant materialism, and also subjugating most of the talent that is now so desperately needed to solve sustainability for the Human Race on a Planet that just might not care too much whether we’re here or not (may actually want rid of us).

  120. July 3, 2008 at 20:42

    @ Jens

    It is a nice fantasy that we are not driven solely by our instincts. The trouble is that we are. The reason why marketing works is because there are people out there who study and formulate how a certain approach will play upon human instincts and lead them to buy a certain product.

    While i tend to agree with your basic point that one doesn’t need a deity to tell them not to kill is generally true. However, we have laws that deal with the ability to kill our young, regulate mating approaches, and ownership of the things we have hunted or gathered.

    Religion has a different set of rules that operate outside these “governmental suggestion”.

  121. 122 Jens
    July 3, 2008 at 21:01


    read this part of my sentence again “that we are not soley instinct driven”. Now is this a fantasy, or do i state that while we have reasoning we are still driven by instinct in many cases. we still have the old “flight-and-fight” responses, our entire hormonal system that responds to enviromental cues is instinct based. this is one of the problems we have in the modern society. we are still the “monkeys” that climbed of the trees several million years ago, and are incredably bad in dealing with stress for example.

    reasoning is the only way that we can control our instinct driven actions. this is one of the big difference between humans and animals. we can reason not to go an rape a person, since we need a basic unit for survival and raping or killing a member of the tribe has been or can be deterimental to the well being of that tribe. on the other hand it might be advantages to go and kill (war) the neighboring tribe. thse are all events that are driven by evolution and does not require a deity of any kind.

  122. 123 quinta
    July 3, 2008 at 21:18

    i believe religion now is now a matter of how you draw people to your denomination and the money they can give you. it is now a game of interest and no more a true religion or belief. in order to have more population or to have many rich poeple in your denomination, you have to favour certain acts which you know it is not correct in order not to hurt the feelings of the members of the denomination or or it is also not to scare members out of the denomination. some church leaders are scared of criticism and so prefer to stay silent and instead take a narrow part instead of involving in issues which are judged to be the issues of politicians and not religious leaders.they are interested in preaching the gospel and not criticizing gender issues. all they need is population in church who are capable of giving them the money.

  123. 124 Anthony
    July 3, 2008 at 21:21

    @ Jens

    1) Hold on, let me check…..hmmmmm….nope. Never said I was a Christian. Never said I believe the bible or in talking snakes, so please don’t assume.

    2) Apparently sarcasm doesn’t show up through typing, because obviously everyone that’s going to blog on WHYS knows what SOTF and evolution are.

    3) I never said that killing your neighbors was a good idea, but if you can get a bunch of U.S. soldiers to kill a bunch of Iraqi’s, and make a bunch of money for you and your friends, and NOT get in trouble, well that looks like survival of the fittest to me, and whats wrong with that? If I can go up to Laguna Beach, kill my boss and take his money, then take his job and not get caught, well then whats wrong with that? SOTF & evolution at its best, since there will be less competition, and more money/opportunity for me 🙂 (You were assuming that I was saying kill everyone, that would be silly, because then you would get caught and get killed or put away yourself).

    4) and no, I don’t have a God crutch. It’s a pain in the butt when I get the opportunity to steal, and do things that would benefit me. I wish I did believe in no God, I would be able to do whatever I wanted as long as I was careful and didn’t get caught 🙂

    -Anthony, LA, CA

    Sorry that even though you believe religion is B.S. that you still live your life according to what most say. That’s your fault, not mine 🙂

  124. 125 Shirley
    July 3, 2008 at 21:23

    Mohammed Ali,
    I really am sorry that your first experiences with Islam were at the hands of the Salafists. They have distorted Islam to the point that it is hardly recognisable.

    The only thing that I would agree with is the use of gender segregation. It accommodates women who are shy and do not want to be seen by men any more than is necessary. Not all women are like that; some do not mind interacting with men. However, there are some who prefer a higher level of modesty. Gender segregation, when done properly, accommodates their attendance at the masjid. When done improperly, it only detracts from the attendance of the mosque by women and, indeed, children.

    In your post, you said that you had been told, God created woman from the ribs of man. This is one of the results of the deviated method of interpreting literally any text that suits the purpose of the Salafists. What Sunni Muslims say about that hadith is vastly different. From one Sunni site: Both men and women being from the same essence, their rights and obligations are also similar. If some incompatibility of temperaments persists in the relationship, the husband should give up his obsession to change the wife’s nature. From another site: The hadith is referring to the need of women for men and the need for women for men. It tells us that neither men nor women complete without the other and need each other; it points to the natural attraction between each. It reminds the husband about the duty to take care of his wife and to be excellent in dealing: she is from him. And from yet another site: Allah has created some of humankind without the means of a father…without the means of a mother…and some without the means of either, such as Adam… The general meaning is that the rib is the protection of the heart. Woman represents the protection of man…but for such protection to take place then man must protect woman in the first place. This is because if any harm reaches the rib (woman) then the heart (man) is left unprotected. The Prophet, upon him peace, said in that very same hadith: “Therefore, treat women kindly.”
    Sources: 1, 2, and 3

    You also posted that you had been told, Women were made to comfort men. That was the result of selective reading, another habith of the Salafist sect. There are at least two verses in the Qur’an that indicate that husbands are a comfort for their wives, and wifes a comfort for theiur husbands. One is in 2:187. The other is in 30:21.

    You posted, Islam women do not mix with men for any form of discussion. This is untrue. In fact, the Qur’an contains instructions for how women are to dress and conduct themselves when they interact with men and talk to them. See 24:31 and 33:32. If we were not allowed to interact with men, then these instructions would not have been given in the Qur’an. There would have been no need of them.

    You posted, Women are forbidden from entering a cementary. This is another baldfaced Salafist lie. Both men and women are permitted and, in fact, encouraged to visit graves. See the posts at http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080305044603AAAIe54 and particularly the one at the bottom for a listing of the sources proving this.

    I didn’t realise that the Salafists have been meddling with Islam even on the west coast of Africa. I really hope that these were not the sum total of your reasons for becoming an atheist, but that you made your decision based on a broad spectrum of divergences between your own beliefs and what religions presented to you. What were the experiences of the women who were subjected to these teachings? Were you able to observe much?

  125. 126 dretceterini
    July 3, 2008 at 21:33

    I am a vehment atheist. I find the idea of an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent magical sky fairy that controls everything absurd. Things happen because everything in the universe is interconnected; not because of the will of some sky fairy. I find that most “religious” people try to impose their beliefs upon others, while most atheists keep their beliefs to themselves. It would be a much better world if everyone just minded their own business!

  126. 127 Zainab
    July 3, 2008 at 21:34

    Salam alycom
    Allah (God) has created us equal in humanity, and we ourselves have created the differences.
    I have read alot about women in different societies, and ages (as i’m writing my thesis about “Women”). Women were living in a very miserable conditions treated very badly, some considered her source of evil…etc. And i come to realize that Islam has freed woman and risen her highly. Allah has created women to be a fundamental partner in society. Truly there are some “Islamic” countries that discriminate between male and female , but this behavior is not of Islam, it is out of misunderstanding it.

    “And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable” (Qura’n 1:228)
    Islam has given woman all kind of freedom, freedom of education, and political freedom as well as freedom in working. There is a complete Surah (chapter) in Qura’n about women called (al Nisa’=women).

    In the history of Islam we have many great women who played a great role in propagating Islam, Like Fatima (a.s) the daughter of Prophet Mohammed (a.s), and Zainab bint Ali (a.s) the granddaughter of Prophet Mohammed (a.s), who has a big shrine in Damascus, that has been visiting by millions each year. I don’t think there is ever a woman who has a position like this!!

    yours truly,
    Zainab from Iraq

  127. 128 Zainab
    July 3, 2008 at 21:40

    Hello again
    just to correct in my last post the number of the chapter of Qura’n

    “And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable” 1:228

    thank you
    Zainab from Iraq

  128. 129 imran ahmed
    July 3, 2008 at 21:52

    @ jamily5
    I disaggree with you on one point and thought to clarify your misconception about the significance of the word “father” alternately used in christianity for God. In Islam, no Muslim ever refers God as father as it is against the fundamental beliefs of the religion. It is clearly stated in Quran that God is neither someone’s ofspring nor He has begotten anyone else.

    As for the question at hand, I seriously believe that people are using religion to serve their motives now a days. Most of those people who hold extremely rigid beliefs, unfortunately do not have adequate education to correctly interpret the Islamic law. For example, the concept of arranged marriages in Pakistan (where I am originally from) is purely a cultural thing, yet people in the west are quick to blame Islam for it. Seeking woman’s consent is absolutely vital and there are many sayings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) to prove this.

  129. 130 viola
    July 3, 2008 at 22:07


    Very interesting.

    Using your own logic, it follows that every single religion on earth each possesses the only true “truth.” That is clearly ridiculous. If all it takes to be a believer is to believe what someone else says he got from God, then the things the reality-challenged people in mental institutions say are as worthy of belief as the Moses, Jesuses, and Mohammeds of the world. That, too, is ridiculous. I’m not trying to insult anyone. I just question blind belief of any kind. Even the scientific world gets off the track when people stop questioning everything and accept “proven” facts–to the extent that some who proposes something new that later proves to be correct are initially scorned and laughed at and excommunicated from their church and scientific community.

    Even those works that are believed to be divinely inspired must pass human scrutiny before they can be accepted. Blind belief is unacceptable no matter what the claimed source. That kind of mindset is too easily controlled and manipulated by unscrupulous people. Thus we have some televangelists enriching themselves by preying on susceptible people and young men being convinced that martyrdom by suicide bombing is a good thing.

  130. 131 Jens
    July 3, 2008 at 22:08


    if you need to have a god/believe to prevent you from stealing or killing your boss, then i do feel sorry for you. this basically means you are not doing so because a deity tells you not to do so, rather than your common sense. this means you live in fear of god and that you will suffer some consequences stipulated by whatever belive you follow. don’t you thik this is a rather starnge way of living. fear of some irrational punishment dished out by god.

    does not everybody live according to what others say. i am for freedom, but my freedom stops where i start hurting other people, that is a simple social concept that has ensured the survival of tribes. how the heel do you think the world was doing before some fiction writer sat down and created scrolls full of sactimoniouse bull crap.

    murder is not acceptable be it in any of the main religions (ups muslims can kill infidels, oh how benovelent that god is) or believes of tribes that have never heard of the concept of god.

    you are free to believe whatever you want, but i have not yet heard one good reason to believe in god. fear of god is probably the most stupid one of all

  131. 132 Jens
    July 3, 2008 at 22:11


    plus killing your boss might sound SOTF to you, but what if he is more intelligent than you. you may have made a short term gain but lost the competative edge, since you as dufuss are not able to compete against the other tribe (the competion of the business you are working for)….just a thought

  132. July 3, 2008 at 22:24

    Point taken Imran!
    My appologies.
    Yet, Islam, is a patriarchal religion and “Allah” is refered to as a “he,” is he not?
    So, although not the “father,” still “allah” is masculine

  133. 134 Shirley
    July 3, 2008 at 22:44

    Islam holds that Allah is without gender. We do think it derogatory to refer to Allah as “It,” though, so we settled for “he.” We consider language to be incapable of describing Allah. Our theology goes deeper than that, but I don’t feel like writing a book.

    Islam is indeed a patriarchial religion in that it gives men the responsibility of caring for the women in their lives and, consequently, certain rights as a result. Women, as the ones who are cared for, have several rights over those who care for them. Most non-Muslims find the rights that men have over women in Islam to be repugnant.

    Christianity does not seem to have much of a defined way of dealing with the genders and their interactions. There are some verses in the Bible that deal with the topic, but they have about as many interpretations as there are Christians.

    I know next to nothing about Judaism and Hinduism in terms of the gender issue; and I can only assume that Buddhism would be relatively free of gender disparities? Though I have yet to see a female Buddhist Monk.

  134. 135 Shakhoor Rehman
    July 3, 2008 at 23:05

    We are all equal in the sight of God. I think all religions tend to share that concept. In the case of Islam to take an example it is in the name which means submission (to God). So if religious believers all submit to God they are all equal regardless of gender or anything else. Secularism then steps in and says that there are differences between male and female, black and white etc etc which is why all this nonsense about women or gays not being allowed to be priests is irreligious and profoundly secularist. In the case of Christianity there is a kind of schizophrenia at one important, intellectual and spiritual level which I think flows from the fact that the first Christian Roman Emperor Constantine died with pagan and christian sacraments. But another very important fact is that most if not all religions are susceptible to multiple interpretations not least due to the fact that the holy texts have undergone different translations. Christianity was translated from Hebrew/Aramaic to Greek to Latin and then numerous later contemporary languages. Words acquire new meanings some with significant nuances which can engender different conclusions affecting beliefs. What is needed is a world conference of all the religions to discuss these differences on an equal basis so that enlightenment can become a possibility.

  135. 136 imran ahmed
    July 3, 2008 at 23:19

    @ jamily5
    The question you asked of me, has been eloquently addressed by Shirley.

    just an after thought: in the west, people only focus on the seemingly curtailed rights of women and fail to notice the responsibilities Islam has assigned to men. Besides, Islam is not just restricted to outlining the roles of men and women, but deals with many other equally important issues that govern our lives. For instance, it strongly prohibits charging intrust over the principle amount. Then there is this issue of slavery: as far as I know, Islam is the only religion that condemns slavery in no uncertain terms. There are many examples in Islamic history where those who could afford it, would pay heavy amount to the owners of slaves in exchange for their freedom.

  136. 137 Roberto
    July 4, 2008 at 01:43

    Remember, slavery and racism have also tried to be justified through religious and biblical contexts.

    —- Need it be pointed out that slavery and racism have existed as long as religion, and probably longer?

    Need it be pointed out that slavery and racism has also existed in law?

    For every historical text the modern mind can find supporting slavery and racism in religion and law, one can find text opposing slavery and racism.

    Thus, you have the historical roots of hypocrisy, a distinctly homo sapiens condition not known in other animals and more insidious than slavery and racism.

  137. 138 Shirley
    July 4, 2008 at 03:24

    Colleen, you linked up a very interesting article. I enjoyed reading about the different kinds of subjects that the women enjoyed depicting. Thank you for sharing.

    Abdelillah, a woman could sit/stand in front of a congregation and recite as many Friday sermons as she wanted, but it would not be Salat al Jumu`ah (Friday Prayers). Of course, in the Hanafi madhhab (school of thought) of Sunni Islam, it is possible for a woman to lead the congregational prayers of a group of women. It just can’t be Friday Prayers. On the either hand, women in either Shia or Sunni Islam can attain the highest rank of scholarship. After that, the possibilities differ between the sects. And in Shia Islam, there isn’t any problem in a woman leading a women’s-only masjlis (eulogy).

    Just curious: why do people feel that if men and women are treated differently by a religion, that is the same a treating them unequally? Another relevant question: is exact equality required, or can justice be achieved by an equitable distribution of rights and obligations? And what are hte limitations on women in Christianity and Judaism? Or Hinduism? Or Buddhism?

    Also, What is the current state of women in the ministry in the Catholic church? And do the current disputes taking place in the Episcopalian church have anything to do with female leadership roles? My family says that the basis for the legitimacy of female pastorship in the various Protestant churches that they attend has something to do with the chronological limitation of the textual source referring to women in positions of authority over men (possibly in the Book of Timothy).

  138. 139 Pangolin-California
    July 4, 2008 at 05:05

    I thought that was the whole point.

  139. 140 Ann
    July 4, 2008 at 05:25

    I think this discussion has been quite interesting so far. I blieve that true equality within any religion is allowing each individual to use their talents and skills to do whatever duties or responsibilities required by that sect. It’s just like the cry for equality between genders in the secular world. There cannot be true equality ,as defined by humans,between the sexes. If that was possible we would all be the same. We have different talents, skills, genetic make-up etc that makes us different and no matter what laws are put into place we cannot really be equal. I see nothing wrong with women taking on leadership roles in the church but in most places it’s met with resistance that has more to do with culture rather than the religious texts used.

    Some mentioned that God created inferiority when he made woman from Adam’s rib but my view is that he basically said you are both the same. You cannot use one without the other. You are equal but different. Women and men have different roles even if you look at it from a scientific viewpoint. Men cannot bare children but women cannot have a child without a man. We are equal but different.

  140. 141 thelegendali
    July 4, 2008 at 10:13

    You could be right. But I grew up in a family that pratice what we consider the Sunni type of Islam. I don’t know the difference between the Salafists and the Sunnis. But I certainly learn these things. Please forgive me, but I will find it extremely difficult to be religious again.

  141. 142 thelegendali
    July 4, 2008 at 10:15

    thelegendali is the same person as Mohammed Ali.

  142. July 4, 2008 at 12:05

    when the majority of humans do misinterpret their scriptures,its normal one gender would put its self in the position of angels yet the bible is a direct reference to the life of both a woman and male when still on earth and afterwords in heaven.infact,the advice women get on how to treat men and their husbands,is the same advice men get on how to treat women and their wives.

  143. 144 Tino
    July 4, 2008 at 14:39

    “why do people feel that if men and women are treated differently by a religion, that is the same a treating them unequally?”

    Because that is what the word means:

    “1. not equal; not of the same quantity, quality, value, rank, ability, etc.: People are unequal in their capacities.
    2. not adequate, as in amount, power, ability, etc. (usually fol. by to): strength unequal to the task.
    3. not evenly proportioned or balanced; not having the parts alike or symmetrical: an unequal leaf.”

    Islam is by far the worst offender. Women are required to wear certain, oppresive clothing. Their voice in law is less under Sharia. They are restricted from doing certain jobs or mixing with the other sex (but men can, as long as the woman he is mixing with is not Muslim). Trying to pass it off as equal is quite frankly laughable. Even if you do it ‘by choice’ you are choosing to make yourself inferior. That decision is, however, up to you and I wish you all the best luck in the world as an inferior, by choice.

    Christians, from my memory in the Church~7 years ago, treat women as equals except in the area of being Pastors/Priests etc. They have no other restrictions as far as I can remember. No idea in any others.

    “And in Shia Islam, there isn’t any problem in a woman leading a women’s-only masjlis”

    This is unequal, which is why the US (thankfully) outlawed segregation. If a black pastor could only preach to a black audience – and even then was restricted from holding Sunday mass – that would be incredibly unequal. Welcome to Islam I suppose….

    “Women, as the ones who are cared for, have several rights over those who care for them.”

    Like what exactly?

  144. 145 selena
    July 4, 2008 at 14:51

    (What passes for) Christianity, like all religions, enshrines inequality. However, no one can force a person to be a Christian in countries where there is separation between church and state.

  145. 146 Shirley
    July 4, 2008 at 18:00

    Mohammed Ali,
    No need to apologise. You didn’t say or do anything wrong. I figured that what you had been expressing was a reflection of what you had been taught. You said, I grew up in a family that pratice what we consider the Sunni type of Islam. This is very understandable. Salafist teachings are generally spread through the financial backing of the Saudi government, which is why they are so pervasive. They do not call it “Salafism,” but pass it off as Sunni Islam. That is why so many are confused about the distinction between the two.

    I’m still curious about any experiences that you have been ble to observe about how the women around you coped with the rleigious teachings against women. In some areas of the world, the pressure on women not to be present in what is perceived as men’s spheres is such that women often never set foot in a mosque. As a Western Muslim, I am saddened by this, because I am accustomed to having the freedom to attend a mosque as regularly as I want. Another thing that I have found is that the division between “men’s work” and “women’s work” is so strctly enforced in certain areas or among some families that a woman might never have the chance to gain depper knowledge, whether religious or mundane. Their entire days are spent trying to cater to the whimes of their husbands and children while their husbands relax for the rest of the evening. I am fascinated by topics such as comparative jurisprudence and the logical underpinnings of thological premises; and I like to try mental puzzles involving algebraic formulae or geographic theorums while I am dozing off. I can understand if not every woman aspires to such a life, but I do feel that such opportunities should be opened for those who do want to work outside the home or gain a higher education.

  146. 147 Shirley
    July 4, 2008 at 20:21

    Selena, do you feel that a more authentic Christianity would treat women as equals?

  147. July 5, 2008 at 02:52

    The first two chapters of the Bible describe God’s creative activity. For me it describes one of the most beautiful relationships we can ever have – not only with one another, but with God and the world around us. It is a relationship of mutual fulfillment, wholeness, and completion (e.g., Genesis 2:24). It is never one gender being better, or higher, or in authority. Unfortunately, many conservative or fundamentalist Christians have used four or five New Testament passages- that I think were addressing cultural issues in their day that were trying to either deify females or address disruptions taking place in worship- and insist that God intends for a higherarchical order that is all about roles, rules, and authority. (e.g. I Corinthians 11 regarding the prophetic ministry of women in the New Testament; Ephesians 5 where the analogy of marriage is used to clarify the relationship of Christ to the church; and I Timothy 2:11-15 where the culture did not educate the women in theology and Biblical knowledge is critical to good leadership in the church, and emphasizing salvation by THE birth of THE child, Jesus.) They then apply these few passages to Genesis and insist that God created a certain order that gives the man authority simply because he was created first. If there is any “authority” that is established simply because of the order in which the humans were created, then men are given authority in order to give it away – or to recognize how critical it is for women to be a part of it (Genesis 2:20-25)!

  148. 149 Emile Barre
    July 5, 2008 at 12:31

    The question of whether or not women or homosexuals or lesbians (what about bisexuals and transexuals incidently?) can be priests or bishops seems to be polarising around whether or not it is a sin or not. The fact is The Holy Bible says many things are not acceptable which christianity has since accepted happily eg worship of graven images which The Ten Commandments explicitly condemns. There is nevertheless one thing that Jesus Christ made absolutely clear was one sin that would never be forgiven on earth or in heaven and that was to blaspheme The Holy Ghost. He stated blasphemy against God and His Son would be forgiven. Are any of these prospective priests/bishops who all the brouhaha is about guilty of that top sin?

  149. 150 Nassar from Kuwait
    July 7, 2008 at 16:43

    Tom D Ford said :

    ” Of course! Religion has always been used by Rulers to establish inequality and maintaining that inequality is essential to their continued Rulership!”

    That is very simple rhetoric that we have been hearing for sometime now, and i must admit it is partly true.

    But it we should also mention that democracy and equalitarian principles as found in non-religious societies, are idealistic (unrealistic) beliefs used to disguise the inequalities found in a system and to justify its moral standing hence assuring its continued survival.

    Yes it is ok for a religion to allow for “inequalities”. But you answered the question as soon as you asked it didn’t you ? After all inequality IS a “bad word”.

    Yes its ok for a religion to be discriminatory because thats the way the world is. The world is discriminated into different types of people, i.e. men and women.

    And although its unfair, i truly do hope that if ever violence or war breakout where i live that i be the one to suffer from it the most and not my mother and sister.
    That if need be, and god forbid the need arises, that i be the one asked to fight a war.
    That i be the one responsible to provide for my family.

    The desire to carry those burdens believe it or not stem more from selfishness then from self sacrifice.
    When you understand that idea, then you should have a right to comment on other people’s religions.

    Its good to see the BBC highlighting the “injustices” brought about by religions other then islam. Keep up the good work BBC.

  150. 151 Nassar from Kuwait
    July 7, 2008 at 16:46

    Yes its ok for a religion to be discriminatory because thats the way the world is. The world is discriminated into different types of people, i.e. men and women.

    And although its unfair, i truly do hope that if ever violence or war breakout where i live that i be the one to suffer from it the most and not my mother and sister.
    That if need be, and god forbid the need arises, that i be the one asked to fight a war.
    That i be the one responsible to provide for my family.

    The desire to carry those burdens believe it or not stem more from selfishness then from self sacrifice.
    When you understand that idea, then you should have a right to comment on other people’s religions.

    Its good to see the BBC highlighting the “injustices” brought about by religions other then islam. Keep up the good work BBC.

  151. 152 Livia Varju
    July 16, 2008 at 17:50

    Of course it’s not OK for religions to enshrine inequality. Although other religions too discriminate against women,Islam is the religion that treats women in the most blatantly unjust manner. One keeps hearing nightmarish stories of Muslim women being forced into prostitution or being raped, and then being stoned to death while the men involved are usually not punished at all. In a court of law, a woman’s voice is worth half that of a man, she inherits half of what a man of the same family ties receives, etc. etc. Even in Paradise the injustices continue. WE hear of umpteen virgins waiting in Paradise for the men, but I wonder what awaits women? Male virgins?

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