We had some friends over for dinner last night, and somehow the conversation segued from how computers work to religion. Surprising myself, and with the benefit of only a single glass of wine, I launched into a blistering rebuke of religion of all stripes. We'd be better off without them, was the gist of it. This morning I wrote a contrite note to one of our dinner guests who I thought I offended, apologizing for my intemperance. I do know better. My mama didn't raise no rude hosts.
So I told myself: stop railing against religion. Then I amended my admonition: stop doing it over dinner; it's no aid to digestion. But rail in public I feel I must.
I've written a few times about how much I admired my grandfather, a man of great intelligence and faith. His was the tolerant and giving religion I was raised with. I admired it, even though I never believed in its god. Live and let live, was my approach.
No more. Take a look around at what is happening in the name of one religion or another. ISIS beheadings and oppression of women and girls. Sunni and Shia suicide bombings. Boko Haram kidnappings of girls. Evangelical Christian and Catholic opposition to women having free access to birth control.
I defy you to name a religion that does not subordinate women. Maybe that was okay once, in a different time and culture. It is no longer.
There have always been religious wars. That, for me, is reason enough to get rid of religion. But the seemingly united view of religions around the world that women are less than men is the last straw. Maybe I just woke up. But I'm awake now.
We cannot and should not tolerate this. No matter what benefit you get from your faith, or what benefit you feel it bestows on others, if it oppresses women--and in one form or another they all do--you should renounce it. Maybe a new religion will be born out of that, one that puts women and men on equal footing. I prefer none, but if there must be faith, I want the dignity and equality of women to be upheld as part of it.
Come to think of it, just that step might go a long way toward bringing religion back to the way I saw it as a boy: a personal choice that comforts in times of trouble and extends a helping hand in times of need.