Sometimes That Old Time Religion, Begatted By Bigots, Bishops, Bullies, And Bastards, Is Not Worth A Damn

Ed Raymond

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men in Israel and the United States, apparently almost frightened into impotency by the thought of female bodies beneath Mother Hubbards, are using their male-oriented religion to maintain supremacy over their own mothers, daughters, and  mistresses in the dark. In Israel these fraidy cats put up signs telling women not to walk past their synagogues. They also force women to ride in the back of buses. Sound familiar?

    In the small Israeli city of Beit Shemesh Ultra-Orthodox Jewish extremists harassed a second grade girl on her way to school, spitting on her and calling her a whore.  This sexy, provocative eight-year-old wore a fully closed, long-sleeved blouse with long skirt. Violence, of course, is terrible in most situations, but one could only hope that a gang of men and women would take such female-haters into the next alley for an equality lesson and beat the living crap out of them. I have always had difficulty turning the other cheek, unless it was part of gaining momentum to land a good left cross. I guess I missed that turn-the-other-cheek lesson in catechism class.

   Some religions may preach equality of the sexes because both males and females are created “in the image of God.” There are about 6,000 different religions in the world, and I haven’t investigated even five percent of them, but I bet none practice true equality of the sexes. Look at Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Roman Catholics, Jews, Southern-Northern-Western- Eastern Baptists, Assembly of God, and Tennessee Snake Handlers. Nothing but misogynists, very sneaky in their hatred of women. My favorite misogynist cartoon comes from the New Yorker. A detective team of a man and a woman are leaning over the body of a man on the floor who has been knifed in the back. His back is covered with blood and the knife is next to the body. The female detective has the answer right away: “The killer had to be a man. Not only is the knife still bloody—it wasn’t even put in the sink.”

Sojourner Truth, Former Slave: “Ain’t I A Woman?”

   In 1851 Sojourner Truth, all six feet of her, addressed the Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, and chewed male butts: “That little man dressed in black there (pointing out a minister), he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ‘cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Whar did your Christ come from? From God and a woman!...If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all ‘lone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it—the men better let ‘em.”

   Atrocities have been committed against women for centuries, but the young Egyptian woman in the blue bra who was stripped of her black abaya by the police during a demonstration--and then beaten and stomped into unconsciousness--may be at the center of a new tipping point. The image of her blue bra and the police stomping on her prone body flashed around the world in seconds.  It reminded me of the young Tunisian cartman who burned himself to death and started the “Arab Spring.”

   Washington Post writer Sally Quinn summarized the image quickly: “The blue bra said what I imagine her to be feeling: ‘I may be oppressed. I may not have rights. I may have to cover up my body and face. But you cannot destroy my womanhood. You can’t rob me of my femininity. You can’t take away my power.’ It makes them so crazy that over the centuries they have encoded it into their religions that women are kept down and denied the same freedoms that men have. ...Men know that women’s sexuality is something they cannot live without; it is something that renders them powerless. Women can have babies, women can breastfeed, woman are the lifegivers.”

The Female Came From The Silver Egg 

   Practically every “creation” story in the history of the world labels women as second-class citizens. Even the Inca civilization in 200 A.D.did it. According to legend the first woman on earth was scratching at the earth when the sun’s rays penetrated her and a baby was born. The Inca God Pachacamac of fire and earthquakes was displeased so he tore the baby to shreds. From the pieces the first plants were born: teeth became corn, bones became yucca, and flesh became potato, yam, and squash.

   The sun was furious. He blasted the coast of Peru and made it forever dry. Then he cracked three eggs. The gold egg birthed lords, the silver egg ladies of the lords, the copper egg those who work. So in the Inca creation–and in Genesis-- woman were still second-class.

   In the Muslim world Mohammed, the “founder” of Islam, died six centuries after Jesus Christ.  With Allah’s permission, he was allowed twelve wives. He left nine widows when he died and none could remarry. His favorite wife was the youngest and was called Ayesha. In her time, and in many cases, our time, women could not enter mosques. She led a campaign against the city of Basra which resulted in 15,000 casualties and longlasting enmity between Shiites and Sunnies (On January 5, 2012  over 70 Shiites were killed by Sunnis in Baghdad–over 1,400 years later). Many Imans have claimed for centuries that Ayesha’s actions showed that women cannot govern and tend to make a real mess of things outside of the kitchen and bedroom. Evidently males in Islamic countries hold up the whole sky.

  In Hindu India two male members of a Northern tribe were charged with the murder of a seven-year-old girl on January 2, 2012 in an attempt to appease their gods. In a ritual sacrifice to ensure better harvests they cut out her liver and dismembered her.  They had kidnaped her as she was returning to her home from watching TV at a neighbor’s house. They are facing the death penalty. Daughters are rather expendable in India today. Parents want male children, and, because of abortion selection, there are now 914 girls for every 1,000 boys. No one knows when the sky will likely fall but it is certainly getting cloudy.

More Ancient Cultural Restrictions On Women Which Have Persisted To This Time

   Many cultures, but particularly Jewish and early Christian, gave no authority to women, often confined them to their father’s or husband’s home, and considered them intellectually and physically inferior to men (although women often lived longer). Women could not testify in court trials, or even in tribal hearings. If a Muslim woman charged rape, she had to have four witnesses to the crime!

   Muslim and Christian women often could not go out in public alone, and certainly could not talk to strangers. They often had to be double-veiled. David Noble in his book “A World Without Women” wrote: “A world without women emerged, a society of men, forged in flight from women (made) the world in its own half-human image.”

   Jesus Christ was widely known for his radical treatment of women 2,000 years ago. Since then, “religious” men have tried to cover up the fact that Jesus treated women as equals.  Any mention of Christ’s affinity for women is hid by bluster, lies, and suppression.  He violated all the old Jewish  laws. Where it was a major transgression to talk to a woman other than wife and children, Jesus even talked to women who were going through their menstrual cycle, a definite major no-no. He talked to “foreign” women, and was well-known for giving advice to Samarian and Canaanite women (Matthew 15 22-28).

   In the 1st century Jewish rabbis had this attitude: “Rather should the words of the Torah be burned than entrusted to a woman...Whoever teaches his daughter the Torah is like one who teaches her obscenity.”  Jesus was  known for teaching Mary and Martha sections of the Torah. In Luke he refers to both women and men as “children of wisdom.”  His closest supporters were equally divided between the sexes. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, and many other women. Mary was the first person to meet Jesus after the Resurrection. He told her to spread the word among his followers. Such an instruction violated a whole host of Jewish laws. But in early Christian writings Mary is called the “apostle to the apostles”  because she was present at His crucifixion and burial, the first to see him after the Resurrection, and the first to announce it to the “other” apostles. 

So Women Are Biblically Challenged?

   Today the Roman Catholic Church insists that no women should become  priests or bishops because Jesus selected men as disciples. No wonder the sky is presently falling over Vatican  cathedrals all over Europe. I even heard a Southern Baptist minister refer to women as being “Biblically challenged” during a political discussion about whether a female U.S. president should always follow the dictates of her husband. You mean like Margaret Thatcher and Catherine the Great of Russia? Where do we get such ignorant male chauvinistic fools?  Where did these practitioners of male dominance get the idea that feminism is a very radical notion that women are actually people? 

   It’s both hilarious and ridiculous that we can make our corporations “ persons” but we can’t make women “equal persons.” We still have several billion males that believe religious leaders such as Pat Robertson, Richard Land, Warren Jeffs, Pope Benedict XVI and the leaders of the Tennessee Snake Handlers are right: “Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” But the burning bush is not hiding all of them. I see a Los Angeles Roman Catholic bishop recently decided he had enough of Catholic canon law  by admitting he had fathered two teenaged sons. The mother lived in a different state with his sons. The archdiocese actually offered spiritual and financial aid to help the children with college costs. Is it because the”father” was a bishop?

Why Can’t Catholic, Muslim, and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Men Control Themselves? 

   Now that we are finally getting women into more leadership positions: secretaries of state, presidents of countries, Marine Corps commanders of recruit depots, state governors, senators and representatives, university presidents, even religious ministers and bishops, perhaps men should start treating women as equals before women gain enough power to pass laws similar to Jim Crow that kept blacks from equality. How would we like it if Jenny Crow forced us to always walk behind women? Confess our sins to a female iman, rabbi, or priest? Sit in the back of the bus? Wear a veil and loose-fitting clothing so that women would not sexually harass us on the street? Worship behind screens or in basements while the women have the largest rooms in mosques and cathedrals? Be driven by female relatives to all of our appointments?  Undergo complete separation of the sexes at social, religious, and family affairs such as weddings and funerals? Be unable to shake the hands of women as a greeting? Always submit to sex even with headaches? Have the female’s permission to share a credit card? Have inheritance laws which would require all property to go to the first-born female? Require all men to have vasectomies at age 25? Have laws which would prevent males from voting? Allow women to have at least four husbands? One for fun, one for garbage takeout and lawn duty, one to cook....

   Pope Innocent VIII in the 15th Century was responsible for “The Hammer of Witches”, the judicial and theological guide for the famous Catholic Holy Inquisition. The authors of this book of terror said that Satan’s Harem, composed of witches, represented women in their natural state, “for all witchcraft comes from carnal lust.”  If you confess to witchcraft you are sent to the stake to be burned. If you don’t confess, you are burned at the stake anyway because you are a witch. I guess it would be hard for one of Satan’s witches to progress to the pulpit as a priest.  But what if Satan’s Harem was made up of male witches, or warlocks? There is no word for a male “harem.”  It’s called a “reverse harem!” Christopher Hitchens once described The Reverend Jerry Falwell this way: “If you gave him an enema, you could bury him in a matchbox.”  If we had a pandemic of stoppages among religious leaders, we might need a lot of match boxes.