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Are religions sexist?

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Introduction

Are religions sexist? Amongst the world religions are many different attitudes towards gender issues and sexuality. A hundred years ago, or even a lot less, these different perspectives did not exist, as they were often considered unimportant, as King noted 'until recently little attention has been paid to gender differences and their impact on religious teaching and practice.'1 With some religions, their scriptures are considered to be infallible and therefore not to be questioned. So the question itself 'are religions sexist' is a fairly new one. Some religions are thought of as being more sexist than others, but then there are also religions that that do not share the shame ideas amongst themselves, like Christianity, where attitudes towards these sorts of issues can change from denomination to denomination. Whereas in Paganism there is not a major source of religious teaching, like the Bible, so is it correct to say that these types of religions have more liberal views because there is nothing for them to act against? Or is it possible that some Neo-Pagan groups have formed as a response against some of these out dated views? The attitude of different religions towards the equality of the sexes is a good indication to how sexist they are. In the Christian religion, the Roman Catholic tradition can be seen to take the most extreme position where sexism is concerned. ...read more.

Middle

However there are also all-male groups, that Crowley believes were slower in arisng in Paganism than women's groups but they 'have developed with the growth of the men's movement as feminism has brought men to question their own role in society.'7 It could be said that all of these groups are sexist, but then does it matter, because there are groups for both sex, so no one is excluded. Attitudes toward sexuality are also important to take into consideration on the subject of sexuality. The Roman Catholic Church seem to be the Christian denomination that objects to homosexuality the most. The fact that Catholics partly take teachings about homosexuality from the Bible, which was written in a male dominated society, means less attention has been paid to lesbianism, but 'the principles that Roman Catholic authorities used when analyzing homosexuality (mainly, that sex is primarily for procreation) applied to men and women equally'8 This could not be considered to be sexist as the Roman Catholic Church does not agree with homosexuality on any level, regardless of gender. Douglas believes that 'Whether they are churchgoers or not, Black people often argue that the Bible makes clear that homosexuality is a sin'9 Douglas observes that there is homophobia in the Black Church, but this is not gender related, it is the objection to any type of homosexuality whether it is by men or women. ...read more.

Conclusion

Writings by Pagan authors have been careful with their use of religious language, the term God is rarely seen to be used without the term Goddess. From this aspect Paganism could not be called a sexist religion, as well as the fact that men and women are regarded as being equal, but then they are in Christianity as well. There are different types of sexism from the extreme discrimination to the use of religious language. It seems that Christianity therefore is not sexist, as on the whole equality is strongly promoted. The objection to the use of the term, 'mankind', seems to be a less serious allegation for the existence of sexism in Christianity. Apart from a couple of aspects of Roman Catholicism the evidence points to religion becoming less sexist than it has been previously. Paganism in its newer forms does appear to be a reaction to some of the sexist traits of the world religions. There are many Pagan groups which exclude people because of their sex, but no one seems to object to this because there are opportunities for both sexes. Therefore it appears that the attitudes towards sexism in religion differ from religion to religion, but also the people within each religion disagree on what counts as sexist. If the followers of that religion are happy with the equality of the sexes, there is no problem, but when there are obvious cases of sexism, such as in Roman Catholicism the whole religion can then be looked upon as being sexist, even if it is not. ...read more.

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