Critically assess the relationship between, gender, religious participation and religious organisations (33 Mark)
Statistics have shown that women tent to be more religious than men across most cultures globally. This is reflected by the Church Census records as it shows that participation in churches and denominations in England and Wales between 1979 and 2005 women were consistently more likely to attend. There are various reasons why females are more religious than men ranging from socialization, exploitation to patriarchy in traditional religions.
Women’s sexuality has always been a dangerous factor in religion; this is because women menstruate and give birth they are considered ...view middle of the document...
Simon and Nadell conducted in depth interviews with 32 female rabbis and 27 female members of the Protestant clergy about women’s position in religious organizations. When asked if the female rabbis conducted their duties differently from the male rabbis nearly all of the women responded ‘yes’. They viewed themselves as less formal, more people orientated and more inclined to touch and hug. However, this can be a result of gender socialization as females are taught to be more submissive, obedient and nurturing than males. This also reflects back to Davie arguing that men and women tend to view God in differently as females see God more as a god of love, comfort and forgiveness whereas men see God more as a god of power and control.
Many Christian feminists argue that there will never be gender equality in churches if the idea of ‘God’ is continued to be associated with masculinity. Mary Daly argues that Christianity itself is a patriarchal myth as it eliminates other ‘goddesses’ in religion. Simone de Beauvoir has a more Marxist approach to the position of females in religion as she argues that religion gives women the false belief they will be compensated for their suffering on earth and their second-class status by equality in heaven. El Sadaawi a Muslims feminists does not blame religion it self for its oppressive influences on women but puts the blame on the patriarchal domination of religion that came with the development of monotheistic religions. She argues further that these religions drew inspiration and guidance from the patriarchal and class societies at the time. This means that men wrote their scriptures and the interpretations they drew from it were mostly male orientated. Therefore, many people misunderstand religion as men of the contemporary society misinterpreted the scriptures which enabled them to abuse power.
In the 14th century the Catholic Church females who treated illnesses without any special training would be declared as witches; who therefore were executed. This could be because the traditional remedies discovered by women were seen as a threat to the emerge of male dominated medical profession.
However, it shouldn’t be assumed that all religions are equally oppressive to women and there have been some successful challenges to the patriarchal structure of organized religion. One of the changes is that there has been gender neutral language introduced in hymns and prayers. Judaism has allowed women to become rabbis in its non-orthodox denominations since 1972. However, there is still a restriction in Orthodox denominations as they still don’t tolerate female rabbis. Leila Badawi has challenged the negative attitude to the female position in Islam as she argues that there are aspects of Islam that are positive for women such as them being able to keep their family name after they get married. However, paganism from which many New Age religions emanate, remains the most female friendly approach to religion as...