Why Women Need Freedom From Religion

Why Women Need
Freedom From Religion

(Nontract #10)

Organized religion always has been and remains the greatest enemy of
women's rights. In the Christian-dominated Western world, two bible verses
in particular sum up the position of women:

     "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow
     thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy
     husband, and he shall rule over thee."--Genesis 3:16

By this third chapter of Genesis, woman lost her rights, her standing--even
her identity, and motherhood became a God-inflicted curse degrading her
status in the world.

In the New Testament, the bible decrees:

     "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer
     not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to
     be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was
     not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the
     transgression."--1 Tim. 2:11-14

One bible verse alone, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" (Exodus
22:18) is responsible for the death of tens of thousands, if not millions,
of women. Do women and those who care about them need further evidence of
the great harm of Christianity, predicated as it has been on these and
similar teachings about women?

Church writer Tertullian said "each of you women is an Eve . . . You are
the gate of Hell, you are the temptress of the forbidden tree; you are the
first deserter of the divine law."

Martin Luther decreed: "If a woman grows weary and at last dies from
childbearing, it matters not. Let her die from bearing, she is there to do
it."

Such teachings prompted 19th-century feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton to
write: "The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in
the way of woman's emancipation."

The various Christian churches fought tooth and nail against the
advancement of women, opposing everything from women's right to speak in
public, to the use of anesthesia in childbirth (since the bible says women
must suffer in childbirth) and woman's suffrage. Today the most organized
and formidable opponent of women's social, economic and sexual rights
remains organized religion. Religionists defeated the Equal Rights
Amendment. Religious fanatics and bullies are currently engaged in an
outright war of terrorism and harassment against women who have abortions
and the medical staff which serves them. Those seeking to challenge
inequities and advance the status of women today are fighting a massive
coalition of fundamentalist Protestant and Catholic churches and religious
groups mobilized to fight women's rights, gay rights, and secular
government.

Why do women remain second-class citizens? Why is there a religion-fostered
war against women's rights? Because the bible is a handbook for the
subjugation of women. The bible establishes woman's inferior status, her
"uncleanliness," her transgressions, and God-ordained master/servant
relationship to man. Biblical women are possessions: fathers own them, sell
them into bondage, even sacrifice them. The bible sanctions rape during
wartime and in other contexts. Wives are subject to Mosaic-law sanctioned
"bedchecks" as brides, and male jealousy fits and no-notice divorce as
wives. The most typical biblical labels of women are "harlot" and "whore."
They are described as having evil, even satanic powers of allurement.
Contempt for women's bodies and reproductive capacity is a bedrock of the
bible. The few role models offered are stereotyped, conventional and
inadequate, with bible heroines admired for obedience and battle spirit.
Jesus scorns his own mother, refusing to bless her, and issues dire
warnings about the fate of pregnant and nursing women.

There are more than 200 bible verses that specifically belittle and demean
women. Here are just a few:

(See Woe To The Women: The Bible Tells Me So for a more comprehensive list)

Genesis

   * 2:22 Woman created from Adam's rib
   * 3:16 Woman cursed: maternity a sin, marriage a bondage
   * 19:1-8 Rape virgins instead of male angels

Exodus

   * 20:17 Insulting Tenth Commandment, considering a wife to be property
   * 21:7-11 Unfair rules for female servants, may be sex slaves
   * 22:18 "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live"
   * 38:8 Women may not enter tabernacle they must support

Leviticus

   * 12:1-14 Women who have sons are unclean 7 days
   * 12:4-7 Women who have daughters are unclean 14 days
   * 15:19-23 Menstrual periods are unclean
   * 19:20-22 If master has sex with engaged woman, she shall be scourged

Numbers

   * 1:2 Poll of people only includes men
   * 5:13-31 Barbaric adulteress test
   * 31:16-35 "Virgins" listed as war booty

Deuteronomy

   * 21:11-14 Rape manual
   * 22:5 Abomination for women to wear men's garments, vice-versa
   * 22:13-21 Barbaric virgin test
   * 22:23-24 Woman raped in city, she & her rapist both stoned to death
   * 22:28-29 Woman must marry her rapist
   * 24:1 Men can divorce woman for "uncleanness," not vice-versa
   * 25:11-12 If woman touches foe's penis, her hand shall be cut off

Judges

   * 11:30-40 Jephthah's nameless daughter sacrificed
   * 19:22-29 Concubine sacrificed to rapist crowd to save man

I Kings 11:1-4 King Solomon had 700 wives & 300 concubines

Job 14:1-4 "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one . . ."

Proverbs

   * 7:9-27 Evil women seduce men, send them to hell
   * 11:22 One of numerous Proverbial putdowns

Isaiah 3:16-17 God scourges, rapes haughty women

Ezekiel 16:45 One of numerous obscene denunciations

Matthew 24:19 "[woe] to them that are with child"

Luke 2:22 Mary is unclean after birth of Jesus

I Corinthians

   * 11:3-15 Man is head of woman; only man in God's image
   * 14:34-35 Women keep in silence, learn only from husbands

Ephesians 5:22-33 "Wives, submit . . ."

Colossians 3:18 More "wives submit"

I Timothy

   * 2:9 Women adorn selves in shamefacedness
   * 2:11-14 Women learn in silence in all subjection; Eve was sinful, Adam
     blameless

Why should women--and the men who honor women--respect and support
religions which preach women's submission, which make women's subjugation a
cornerstone of their theology?

When attempts are made to base laws on the bible, women must beware. The
constitutional principle of separation between church and state is the only
sure barrier standing between women and the bible.

For more information about the treatment of women in the bible, read the
books Woe to the Women: The Bible Tells Me So by Annie Laurie Gaylor and
The Born Again Skeptic's Guide to the Bible by Ruth Hurmence Green (each
available for $10 postpaid from the address below).

Join the Freedom From Religion Foundation to help educate about the root
cause of women's oppression, and to enforce the absolute separation of
church and state.

Send your $35, tax-deductible membership in today to Freedom From Religion
Foundation, P.O. Box 750, Madison WI 53701.

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Nontract No. 10.  Copyright 1993 by A. L. Gaylor. All rights reserved.

Please do not make or distribute copies of this document in this form.

More copies of this nontract may be ordered from FFRF, Inc., for $2.50 per
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