THEOCRATIC REVISION AT ITS WORST: PART IV
WOMEN AT RISK: The Consequences and Dangers of a Christian Republic
By Donatra, Shakti, and Katie
(Katie is a member of the political blog, The Coalition for a Democratic America, at
How many people do you know still read the Bible on a regular basis? Not many, I'm betting. Even more difficult, can you name anyone who lives by its principles—other than the obvious things like the ten commandments—? I'm also willing to take a leap and say that you can't. There are people, though, who wish to take the good book at its word. I know it doesn't sound scary, but let's take a look at what those words are and what they mean.
There are those who argue that homosexuality is a sin, according to the Bible. Then there are those who say that's complete rubbish and a bad interpretation. So who's right? I think the fact that there's so much debate over it speaks for itself: maybe we shouldn't be jumping all over something we can't prove concretely. Then again, given the track record of those that would insist the Bible does, in fact, outlaw homosexuality, they're probably exaggerating or misinterpreting the verse on purpose. It certainly wouldn't be a surprise.
Or what about that pesky issue of women's rights? We the people finally obtained some semblance of them (at least in America—it seems as though other civilized countries got there way before we did) in 1919 and we've been fighting for them ever since. I'm not going to go so far as to say that the women in America are oppressed, because they're not, but all of this emphasis on "family values" has me wondering. The implication of that statement means a woman at home, raising children and doing laundry, while a man goes off and lives his life. It means sexual slavery and the loss of any kind of control. These are based, in part, on the Bible's teachings that women are subservient to men.
All anyone needs to know about how scary biblical inerrancy really is can click on the following links and find out.
THE CONSEQUENCES AND DANGERS OF A CHRISTIAN REPUBLIC
"When you draw near a city to fight against it, offer terms of peace to it. And if its answer to you is peace and it opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall do forced labor for you and shall serve you. But if it makes no peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it; and when the Lord your God gives it into your hand, you shall put all its males to the sword, but the women and the little ones,the cattle, and everything else in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as booty for yourselves; and you shall enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which the Lord your God has given you. Thou shall do to all the cities which are very far from you, which are the cities of the nations here. But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Hivites and the Jeb'usites, as the Lord your God commanded; that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices which they have done in the service of their gods, and so to sin against the Lord your God."
Chapter 20, verses 10 through 18
Revised Standard Edition of The Holy Bible
Published by William Collins Sons & Co., Ltd
If there was ever a reason for not adopting the Holy Bible as the governing document of the United States it is patriarchal passages such as the one that we selected to open this particular post. Seriously, read that passage again. Not only does it reduce women to mere property; it could also serve as a blue print for modern day warfare in the Bush Administration. If that passage doesn't chill chills down your spine remember this. The radical religious right (we just can't bring ourselves to call them Christians anymore) believes that every single book, chapter, and verse in the Bible is true and should be used as the blueprint for American government. That may be good news for the sociopaths and pseudo Christians on the far right but it is not good news for those who do not accept a literal interpretation of the Bible and it is even worse worse news for women, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals.
In the classic PBS series, The Power of Myth, the late Joseph Campbell submits that matriarchal societies were finished by the year 1750 BC. According to Campbell, when you have hunters and herders you have killers "because they're always in movement, nomadic, coming into conflict with other people and conquering the areas in which they move. And these invasions (in today's Middle East) bring in warrior gods, thunderbolt hurlers like Zeus or Yahweh." True, one might argue that transforming the Virgin Mary into a co redeemer is, in some small manner, a way by which far right wing Catholics can assuage some of the guilt that they must have acquired for their abominable attitudes towards women; and one might also argue that the acceptance of female Saints shows a certain reverence for women; but the fact that remains that women in both, conservative Catholicism and Protestantism are considered little more than property, second class citizens to be dominated by their male superiors. In other words, the Patriarchal Society is alive and well on the far right.
We have to wake up and admit some basic truths. In so far as the treatment of women is concerned, the Judeo-Christian tradition has a very long and brutal record when it comes to the oppression (and at times, outright slaughter of) women, and a very short, record for the liberation of women. It makes us wonder: might western civilization have been a little different if the matriarchal societies of the Middle East had successfully beaten back the Patriarchal invaders? As Mister Campbell and Mister Moyers wondered in The Power of Myth, might western society have been more gentle, and more compassionate, and more considerate if the prayer of choice began with the words "Our Mother Which art in Heaven?"
Clearly the Holy Text is not a friend of the "the other," women in particular.
According to the Old Testament, fathers retain strict control over their daughters--to such a degree that they should not be allowed to leave the homes of their fathers until they are married, after which they quite literally become the properties of their husbands. Once married a woman not allowed to leave the home of her husband. According to the Old Testament women are seldom allowed to appear in public places, and when they do they are supposed to be doubled veiled. Women are not allowed to speak to strangers and they are not allowed to testify in court. Moreover women are considered unclean when they learn that they are expecting a child. After they give birth to a male child they are considered unclean for a week. When they give birth to a female child they are considered unclean for two weeks. In the Book of Genesis, men are allowed to have concubines, the concubines having an even lower social position than wives. Fathers are allowed to sell their daughters as servants; women can be stoned to death if they are not virgins on their wedding night; and of course, women were not allowed to inherit property or other forms of wealth. 
Save for a few choice exceptions that are automatically ignored by male theocrats, the New Testament is little better. Saint Paul specifically states that "Christ is the head of every man and a husband the head of a wife (1 Corinthians 11:3). Women are commanded to remain silent in the churches and are forbidden to teach Wives are commanded to submit to their husbands, and to learn in quietness and submission, and of course, the New testament wouldn't be complete if it didn't remind us that Eve was tempted prior to Adam, an act for which all subsequent women have paid dearly. 
"The Christianization of Europe was accompanied by Inquisition, religious persecution that claimed the lives of an estimated nine million, many burned in public squares between the 15th and 17th Centuries, sometimes referred to as the 'women's holocaust...'"  In the 16th Century witch hunting evolved into a lucrative business ventures, as the assets of a convicted witch were utilized to pay trial costs. Women were banned from the the university, and banned from practicing midwifery, in essence buttressing the male dominated medical profession. Traditional herbal therapies, midwifery, and the feminine role as healers gave way to medical monopolies dominated by the Catholic Church, and with them a wave of quackery which included everything from blood letting to the use of leeches. At the same time the Catholic Church, through a celibate male priesthood that wasn't supposed to know anything about sex, spread the message that sex, was the root of all evil, a message which eventually devolved into another, even more destructive message, namely, that women were the root of all evil. Women, the church insisted, were flawed creations because--you guessed it-- of the original temptation in the Garden of Eden. To make the situation worse, during the Thirty Years War, both sides, Protestants and Catholics, managed to slaughter each other whole sale, and still had enough time to torture and burn thousands of so called witches.*
The only problem is this: Some of us** are getting a little sick and tired of being blamed for what a mythological figure did in a mythological place; and even if the Bible were literally true, you just have to wonder about a God and sexually frustrated (or should we say insecure?) men who insist on blaming an entire group of people for the mistake of one person.
You would think that by the 21st Century most men would have matured to the point where they are comfortable working with and beside strong women, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Rather we have a situation in which professional misogynists are verbally and politically trying to tun back the clock to Biblical days when women are little more than chattel. And the thing that annoys us the most is that it's being done in the name of a Christian Republic. Watch carefully the current administration in Washington; watch even more closely the reactionary base of the Republican Party which, at the very least, can be described in terms of woman hating. You can judge an administrations, parties, and base constituencies by the kinds of policies that it proposes and promulgates and what we've been getting from the far right during the last twenty years or more can only be described as theocratic and dangerous. Christian Republic? Hogwash. This is nothing less than religious totalitarianism wrapped in a cloak of Christian hypocrisy to make it more acceptable to an unsuspecting public.
Time and time again the far right revealed its obsession with original sin and the original temptation of Eve through it's truly barbaric policies and proposals. Welcome to the bizarre alternative universe of the Theocratic Right where men abandon their wives because women challenge patriarchal values; where wealth disparity among women is a direct result of a woman's refusal to marry; where women are responsible for men's behavior; and (we just love this one); where husbands protect women from predatory men while women channel the husband's sex drive into productive. non predatory directions. This is especially disturbing because it quite literally makes women responsible and dependent on a potentially abusive male. Needless to say that in such a bizarre alternative reality, sex is only for procreation, which of course means that both, contraception and safe, legal abortion must be banned or at least severely restricted. In other words, the fetus is sacred, the adult woman is not.
But we don't want this to digress into a discussion about abortion. Rather, we want to discuss some of the policies that the far right has proposed (some successfully passed into law, some not) to further demonstrate exactly how dangerous our modern day theocrats really are. Consider the following:
FACT: "The administration requested $546 million for domestic violence programs in fiscal 2007, a decrease of $20 million--or 3.5 percent--from the amount appropriated in 2006, the anti-violence network's figures indicate. The amount does not include any funding for 21 newly enacted programs, the largest of which is a $50 million program that provides services for survivors of sexual assault." 
FACT: "Although President Bush vows to leave no child behind, his proposed 2006 federal budget and the budget resolution passed by Congress in April does just that—by calling for a cut of over $500 million from the Department of Education. These budget cuts stand to particularly impact female teens. 'Since women make up a disproportionate share of low-income students, they will be particularly affected by planned cuts to the Perkins Program, TRIO and GEAR UP,' said Jacqueline King, director of Policy Analysis at the American Council on Education. About 61% of the students who stand to lose the Upward Bound and Talent Search programs are female, according to the Washington-based Council for Opportunity in Education. The Council says the budget cuts will leave female teens across the country without a lifeline to higher education." 
FACT: "On March 18, 2005, the Bush administration released a clarification to Title IX, the 1972 federal law that requires equal opportunity for women and girls in education and sports. The clarification allows schools to show compliance with Title IX even if they do not provide equal funding and opportunity for women's sports, provided they show that their female students do not have the same level of interest in sports as the male students. The change also allows schools to avoid a 1996 guideline that states that multiple factors should be used in determining the level of student interest in sports. This clears the way for schools to use a flawed email survey of their female students to duck their Title IX obligations." 
FACT: "Enacted under Clinton, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for a serious illness, to care for a seriously ill family member or to care for a newborn or newly adopted child. This important legislation allows workers to avoid having to choose between family and job. Opponents of FMLA - the very groups that fought the law's original passage 12 years ago - are reportedly pressuring the Bush administration to weaken the law by eliminating some of the circumstances in which employees may take unpaid leave and by restricting the use of intermittent leave. Though the Department of Labor reportedly has denied plans to propose these changes, it has said it will make changes to regulations governing notice for leave time." 
FACT: "The Bush administration's plan to curtail mercury emissions is less stringent than many environmental groups had hoped. The plan will allow the coal-burning power plants that are responsible for dangerous amounts of mercury being released into the environment to buy and sell emissions credits as they see fit and as their budgets allow. Mercury is a poisonous metal that has been found to harm the developing nervous systems of infants and fetuses along with women of childbearing age."  In a similar vein this reveals a literal interpretation of the Holy Bible on the environment, specifically, since Jesus will return to destroy the earth anyhow, why bother to preserve and improve the health of the planet, its many ecosystems, and life forms.
FACT: "With new leaked White House salary figures and an Excel spreadsheet, crack Washington Post researcher Margot Williams determined in July that men in the Bush White House earn an average of $76,624 a year, and women earn $59,917 on average. That means Bush women are paid about 78 cents for every dollar that Bush men earn—similar to the wage gap that still exists between men and women throughout the U.S. (In 1963, women employed full-time in the U.S. were paid, on average, only 59 cents to the dollar received by men; in 2001 women were paid 76 cents for every dollar received by men.) At the White House, the gap is the result of the predominance of men in highest-paid jobs; 12 of the 17 White House staffers earning $157,000—the top of the pay scale this year—are men. Men and women are paid similar salaries for similar work, says The Post, but fewer women hold top positions." 
FACT: "Overruling the advice of its own scientific advisors, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on May 6 rejected over-the-counter sales of emergency contraception (EC), prompting NOW and other critics to accuse the agency of responding to political pressure from the Bush administration. In December, two FDA scientific panels voted 23-4 in support of making EC available without a prescription. Afterward, the agency was subjected to political pressure from conservatives who argued that increased access to EC would encourage teenagers to be sexually active. While acting drug chief Dr. Steven Galson denied that politics played a role in his decision, women's rights advocates said otherwise. 'The FDA is playing politics with women's lives and contributing to the deterioration of public health in this country,' NOW President Kim Gandy said. 'The FDA has set aside its mission and caved to political pressure from the Bush administration and its allies who oppose birth control.' Barr Laboratories, makers of the Plan B emergency contraception brand, plan to rapidly seek approval for nonprescription sales for people aged 16 years and older. 'It's a matter of weeks and months to deal with this objection,' said Barr chief executive Bruce Downey, saying that means the FDA could reconsider the issue within a year. 'Clearly ... the door's open, and we plan to go through it.'" 
FACT: "The Bush administration has quietly deleted and altered information on women's issues from government agency websites, a research group has found. A report from the National Council for Research on Women (NCRW), released in mid-April, says the deletion of information on subjects including pay equity and childcare was 'apparently [done] in pursuit of a political agenda.' At least 25 publications were removed from the website of the Department of Labor's Women's Bureau alone. Some items that were not deleted were reportedly altered: For example, information about the use of condoms to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases was changed to say that the effectiveness of condoms was 'inconclusive.' The National Cancer Institutes's website was changed in 2002 to say studies linking abortion and breast cancer were inconsistent; an outcry from scientists resulted in an amendment to say abortion is not associated with an increased risk. The NCRW report also indicated that key government offices such as the Office of Women's Initiatives and Outreach in the White House and the President's Interagency Council on Women have been disbanded, with attempts made at the Pentagon to disband the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services. Finally, the report found that as of March 2004, Attorney General John Ashcroft had failed to conduct and publish a study required under the Violence Against Women Act to investigate discrimination against domestic violence victims in getting insurance."  This, as you might have guessed is exactly what we have been talking about. When theocrats don't like the facts they revise them. Or in this case, the both, revise and delete them.
FACT: "Salon.com reports that 'some nonprofit organizations that don't agree with the Bush administration's 'abstinence only' philosophy have been 'repeatedly investigated by the government, while faith-based groups get a free pass.' Advocates for Youth, a national nonprofit that provides teens with comprehensive sex education, had never in its 18 years as a federal grantee been subject to an audit by the government. Over the past year it has been subjected to three. The organization claims that 'it's being unfairly targeted because of its negative views towards the administration's abstinence-only education policies.' Their claims are supported by a leaked Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) memo published by the Washington Post in July 2001. The memo describes Advocates for Youth as 'ardent critics of the Bush administration.' And Advocates for Youth are not the only ones being targeted. Three reviews have been conducted over the past 10 months of San Francisco's STOP AIDS program. The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SEICUS) has undergone two audits this year. While Advocates for Youth, STOP AIDS, and SEICUS have all 'come through their audits with flying colors,' last year a number of faith-based organizations receiving federal grants were found guilty of misusing government money. For example, a number of sex-education programs funded by Louisiana Governor Mike Foster's Program on Abstinence 'were found guilty in a federal court of openly violating the constitutional tenet of separation of church and state.' However, none of these Louisiana nonprofits have been subject to an HHS audit. James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth says, 'Our complaint is not with getting audited' but 'with the selective and political nature of these audits. Ideology is invading—if not
subverting—science within the Department of Health and Human Services.'" 
FACT: In the 2002 budget, Bush proposed eliminating required contraceptive coverage for female federal employees and for federal employees' dependents. Lawmakers in both houses of Congress indicated they would fight to keep a provision that requires federal health plan providers to offer federal employees the five birth control methods approved by the Federal Drug Administration. Andrea Brooks, director of the women's and fair practices department at the American Federation of Government Employees, called the proposal "extremely discriminatory." 
FACT: "Bush's 2002 proposed budget seeks to cut the Maternal and Child Health Block Grants that provide health care to women before, during and after pregnancy, according to the House Democratic Policy Committee. The budget would also freeze the Healthy Start program, which has been shown to reduce infant mortality and morbidity. 
And our favorite!
FACT: At a recent press conference, George W. Bush indicated through White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer that he does not consider discrimination against women to be an offense as serious as racial or ethnic discrimination. According to Fleischer, membership in a group that excludes women is not 'a disqualifying factor' for candidates to Cabinet posts. However, when prodded, Fleischer stated that racial or ethnic discrimination is a 'very different category for the President.'" 
Should we expect anything different? This is what you get in a patriarchal society where men are frightened of female intelligence and (dare we say it?) female sexuality.
Sadly, we all know what attitudes such as these can lead to. We're talking about Domestic Violence (everything from verbal and psychological abuse to rape, physical assault and murder), employment discrimination, glass ceilings, poverty, ad infinitum.
We already know that when a woman is raped or physically assaulted that there is a 76 percent chance that her assailant was either a former husband, her current husband, a partner with whom she cohabitats, or a date. Seventy-eight percent of stalking victims are women. Globally, at least one out of three women have been beaten or forced to engage in sexual relationships. Nearly 25 percent of American Women alone report having been raped or physically assaulted by a former spouse or cohabiting partner. Women are five times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner. ad infinitum. By all means, click on the link in our foot note. The statistics you encounter will give you a good idea as to what happens when men fail to respect and accept women as partners and equals.
Will we return to the bad old days when women will be forbidden the right to own property? Will we see the establishment of a kind of Christian Sharia? Will women be required to stay in their husbands and fathers homes? We don't know. We don't know because we don't know if the radical theocrats have enough political power to stage a complete takeover. We'd like to think that the 2006 midterm elections were a sign that the American people have grown weary of being told what to think; that they don't want a narrow minded group of authoritarian theocrats intruding into their homes, personal lives, and churches. We'd like to think that we have truly come a long way. But liberty is a tricky thing. You may think that you have acquired it, only to learn that there have been clandestine or perhaps even violent forces to undermine.
As suggested in Part III, we must be ever vigil, because the freedom that we lose may well be our own.
Author's Notes by Shakti
*For a more thorough discussion of the Thirty Years War please go to "The Thirty Years War" at http://www.pipeline.com/~cwa/TYWHome.htm
**We use the term "some of us" because there is a variety of religious beliefs within our group. Our group is composed of everything from atheists and agnostics to deists, unitarians, and practicing Christians who support the concept of church/state separation as a means to protect both, our religious freedom and neutral government.
GENERAL SOURCES (Prologue)
Copyright Wikipedia Foundation Inc.
Last Moderated 30 April 2007
From: Online Baptist
Article titled, You're Just Like Adam and Eve
Copyright 2000 by Online Baptist
SOURCES (Article Proper)
 From:: Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers
Published by Doubleday
Copyright 1988 by Apostrophe S. Productions Inc and Alfred van der March Editions
 From: Religious Tolerance
The Status of Women in Hebrew Scriptures
Passages Treating Women as Inferior to Men
Copyright (c) 1997 to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2006-SEP-13
Author: B.A. Robinson
 Religious Tolerance
The Status of Women in the Christian Scriptures
Women in the New Testament's Scriptures
Copyright (c) 1997 to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2006-SEP-13
Author: B.A. Robinson
 From: Democracy Under Assault (Theo Politics, Incivility, and Violence on the Right)
By: Michele Swanson
Published by Sol Ventures Press
Copyright 2004 by Michele Swansen
 From: Feminist.com
Budget Falls Short for Domestic Violence Programs
By: Allison Stevens--Washington Bureau Chief
Copyright 2006 by Womens eNews
 From: The Truth About George W. Bush
Copyright 2002-2006 by the National Organization for Women
 Family Violence Prevention Fund
Friday, May 11, 2007
THEOCRATIC REVISION AT ITS WORST: PART IV