Religious Liberty…. To a Point.

I am an Atheist.
That said, I do not begrudge others their right to believe whatever they wish. After all, even racism is not outlawed as a position that a person can adhere to. However, racists are not allowed to put that belief into practice very much beyond who they choose to personally associate with. A racist is not allowed to enslave another, bringing that person into oppression and servitude.

Something is amiss with religion. In the name of religous freedom, some groups are taking the liberty of oppressing women in the name of “God’s Will.” Just as racists quote their “reasons” for why a person of a certain other race should serve them, these misogynists quote parts of the Bible to justify their behavior. Many women are oppressed and dominated unwillingly (google accounts of women who have come out of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult), but feel obligated to defend their oppressors and obligated to claim to be willingly “submitting,” in the sense that nobody is physically pointing a gun at her head. The oppression and subjection is accomplished largely emotionally and psychologically. If the women do not comply, they are under threat of being deemed “rebellious,” “ungrateful,” “disobedient,” “bitter,” and any number of other terms that would carry with them certain implications, not the least of which is that the disobedient woman is to be subject to church discipline and shunned.

Within many of these groups the woman often depends entirely on the man for support and provision, and on the church for most of their community and social needs. Their “church family” is exactly that… their family. If the woman rebels, her family may find it necessary to discipline her and cut her off… leaving her floundering without an education, income, etc., and frightened in a world that she has been indoctrinated into believing is “Satan’s system.”

She must obey or risk possibly Hell (in their estimation) if her lack of obedience is seen as evidence that she is not really a “true” Christian after all.

This is only a summary of the psychological abuse and enslavement rampant within Fundamentalist Christianity. Psychological abuse is a very real threat to a person’s well-being and ability to function normally. This abuse can be very comprehensive, and it also has the effect of causing the victim to feel the obligation to defend and protect their abuser. This effect of the abuse makes it particularly difficult to help them.

This oppression and abuse is something that needs to be addressed.

When a religion and its doctrines start infringing on the rights and health of others (yes psychologically), it needs to be reigned in. This opens a can of worms, though. There is usually little actual physical evidence of abuse in this sort of thing, so who’s to say that an individual woman is actually NOT willingly putting herself in a position of subjection? Just like we cannot allow “honor killings” in the name of religious freedom, we can’t allow this subjection of women either… it’s just more difficult to put one’s finger on.

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