by D.M. Murdock
Freethought Examiner
July 24, 2009

from Examiner Website

 

D.M. Murdock, also known as Acharya S, is an independent scholar of comparative religion and mythology from a "freethinking" perspective.

 

She is the author of The Christ Conspiracy, Suns of God, Who was Jesus? and Christ in Egypt. Her work was featured in the movie Zeitgeist and Bill Maherís Religulous.

 

Her main website is TruthBeKnown.com

 

Last week, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter released a widely disseminated statement concerning the global mistreatment of women based on religious texts and doctrines.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter

 

Mr. Carter was so disturbed by the sexism within his own church that he left it after 60 years.

 

In his commentary, Carter quoted the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" and the Bible (Gal 3:28) to demonstrate his own integrity as concerns race, religion and gender.

 

He then remarked:

"This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. It is widespread. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths... The male interpretation of religious texts and the way they interact with, and reinforce, traditional practices justify some of the most pervasive, persistent, flagrant and damaging examples of human rights abuses."

Carter is to be commended for having the daring - a sad statement in itself that it is "daring" to speak out on behalf of women - to take on the religious tyranny that has ruled this planet for too long. As he says, he is in a later stage of his life and as part of a mysterious group of "Elders" he has been selected to publicize this very enlightened view concerning women and religion.

 

Further displaying this vital courage, Carter declares:

"The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."

We wholeheartedly agree, and we thank Mr. Carter and the Elders for taking this sorely overdue step - let us hope that others will follow suit and that those individuals still engaging in misogyny and sexism, religiously based or otherwise, will feel ashamed of themselves.
 

 


"Holy Scriptures" themselves are sexist


Moses Exhorting His Followers (Numbers 21)
 

Unfortunately, Carter's closing contention concerning the traditional establishers of the three Abrahamic religions, Christ, Paul, Moses and Muhammad, all calling for "proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God" stumbles, for, while it is diplomatic, it is certainly not true.

 

According to the Bible, Moses was responsible for an atrocious amount of genocide, such as at Numbers 31:15-18, where, after his Israelites slaughter thousands of Midianites, Moses asks,

"Have you let all the women live?"

The great jewish prophet next gives an ethnocentric reason to murder them all and then remarks:

"Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves."

What this last line means, naturally, is that the Israelite warriors get to kidnap the young virgin girls and use them as sex slaves.

In the meantime, the "Prince of Peace" Jesus Christ stated he was not here to bring peace but a sword (Mt 10:34), and made other remarks that create enmity:

For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these [are] the beginnings of sorrows."

(Mk 13:18)

If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple."

(Lk 14:26)

Paul, of course, repeatedly made derogatory remarks about women, such as:

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

(1 Cor 11:3)

Sounding very proto-Islamic Paul follows this sexist commentary with a diatribe against women's hair and an exhortation for women praying or prophesying to cover their heads. (1 Cor 11:5ff) After these comments, Paul says that men were not created for women, but women were made for men. (1 Cor 11:8).

There's more woman-dominating speech at Ephesians 5:22-24:

"Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands."

At 1 Timothy 2:11-15, Paul goes on a rant that women should be quiet and submissive, because Eve ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden, dictating that all women - who are by their mere gender guilty by association - can redeem themselves by bearing children and being modest:

"Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty."

And there's more in the "Good Book" that contradicts Carter's euphoric and hopeful interpretation, such as Paul repeatedly exhorting slaves to obey their masters, as at Titus 2:9:

"Bid slaves to be submissive to their masters and give satisfaction in every respect."

The pro-slavery and pro-government biblical rhetoric can also be found 1 Peter 2:13-18:

"Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing right you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext of evil; but live as servants of God. Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor."

"Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to the kind and gentle but also to the overbearing."

How can we "honor all men" and then allow some to be slaves to overbearing masters? There would seem to be (at least) two voices here, including a propagandist for the emperor.

Nor does the Koran, attributed to Muhammad, speak out against slavery - indeed, fervent followers of Islam often label themselves "slaves of Allah."

 

While Surah 2:256 says there is "no compulsion in religion," this passage is abrogated by later ones stating:

"The only true faith in God's site is Islam"

(Q 3:19)

"He that chooses a religion over Islam, it will not be accepted from him and in the world to come he will be one of the lost."

(Q 3:86)

"It is not for true believers men or women to take their choice in the affairs if God and his apostle decree otherwise. He that disobeys God and his apostle strays far indeed."

(Q 33:36)

Unbelievers in Allah, the Koran and Muhammad are threatened with the hideous punishment of eternal hellfire, as at Surah 2:92-6:

"God's curse be upon the infidels! Evil is that for which they have bartered away their souls. To deny God's own revelation [the Koran], grudging that he should reveal his bounty to whom he chooses from among his servants! They have incurred God's most inexorable wrath. An ignominious punishment awaits the unbelievers."


Demon in Islamic Hell torturing women (edited)
 

There exist centuries-old Islamic images of Muhammad in Hell watching a demon torture women for uncovering their hair. There is nothing "equitable" about the treatment of women as ordained in the Koran:

Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient.

Concerning a man's right to marry a woman, the Koran (4:24) remarks:

"Also, [forbidden to you are] married women, except those whom you own as slaves."

If these slave women are married, there must have been husbands somewhere, and one may presume that they are no longer alive, having been murdered by those who have enslaved their wives.

 

Equitable?

As we can see, there is a serious problem with Mr. Carter's heartfelt commentary, but we can overlook his current sunny perspective, so long as it increasingly becomes understood that the religions and their scriptures themselves are hardly devoid of sexist speech that is merely being "misinterpreted" by men in order to hold sway over women.

Indeed, contrary to Carter's conclusions, the rampant misogyny and sexism found within religion are readily traceable to the attitudes of the alleged founders of organized faiths. We need to get at the heart of the issue, which is that humans possess a strange megalomaniacal quirk causing them to think that the God of the cosmos is writing books especially for them - books full of atrocity, hatred, oppression, enslavement, terror, warfare and genocide.

 

That's the real problem, because books serve as brainwashing propaganda - it does no good at all to talk about "erroneous interpretation" when in fact there is no other way to interpret calls to hegemony, oppression, domination, bigotry, cruelty, discrimination and violence.

What the world really needs are new and improved writings revered for their enlightened content, not for their purported supernatural origins.

 

Championing Dark Age and Stone Age texts will never lead to an evolved and peaceful world, no matter how hard we try to find seeds of goodness in them. Instead of desperately searching for seeds in bloated bags of intellectual refuse, let us obtain fresh sacks of seeds!

 

And then let us plant these seeds of true human enlightenment with all due haste for our future generations.