Thursday, July 8, 2010

Casting a Stone at Religious Barbarism

If you’ve visited this blog before, you probably know that I occasionally crawl up on my soapbox. Few issues can get me up there quicker than inequality. Doesn’t matter which of its many forms (social, racial, gender, economic to name a few) it may take, it generally lights a fire within me.

You might have read a post I did earlier this year, On Being a Girl. If you did, you know that the subjugation of women is a pet peeve of mine. Anatomy has absolutely nothing to do with a person’s inner strength and it should in no way prevent that person from fulfilling their potential.

And yet, we live in a world where this occurs every single day. Every. Single. Day. (Do you get the idea yet that this really pisses me off? Good. It does.)

Granted, the United States doesn’t have a whole lot of room to talk. Though Wyoming and Colorado passed women’s suffrage in the 1890s, it would take the rest of the country another 30 years to catch on when the 19th Amendment to Constitution gave women the right to vote in 1920. And owning property? Well into the 19th century, after marriage a woman had no control over the income from any of her property. In most states she could neither give nor sell property, hers before marriage, without her husband’s consent.

Mississippi became the first state to rectify this legal imbalance in 1839. Yet in 1913, there were still 20 states requiring a husband’s signature before a married woman could dispose of her own property. And still, in 2010, the average American woman earns between 75 and 80 cents for every dollar that her male counterpart does.

Yet all that pales in comparison to the plight of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old Iranian woman, “convicted” of alleged adultery. (She gave a confession but says it was given under duress; her children vehemently deny the charges.) Already imprisoned for five years, Ashtiani was given 99 lashes. And if that wasn’t barbaric enough, now she is scheduled for execution – by stoning – the punishment of choice for male and female adulterers! An offense which doesn't even always result in divorce in the United States.

And this, for a woman who may not even be guilty. Without evidence, a judge "said" she did it. Wow. (Imagine if we started doing this in the United States. The halls of Congress would be mighty friggin’ empty in a hurry would they not?)

Wait. Did I just jump in Mr. Peabody and Sherman’s WABAC machine? Or, can it really be 20 freakin’ 10?! I know that not all Muslims follow the Sharia or adhere to every word of the Quran that allows sh*t like this to go on (and makes women cover themselves from head to toe and prohibits their education and has them married off with no say in the matter).

It would seem then that maybe the Islamic faith needs its own version of Vatican II.

But Christians and Jews, don't be feeling all superior now. The Bible offers just as much barbarism. Adultery, taking God’s name in vain, homosexuality, a woman “found not to have been a virgin on her wedding night,” even cursing a parent – all punishable by, yep, death. It endorses both slavery and polygamy, too. But that’s all Old Testament.

In its defense, modern Christianity has, at least for the most part, gone all New Testament and is more apt to ask itself “What Would Jesus Do?” (As if the second half of the Bible serves as a big “nevermind” for the first part. But I digress.)

There are conflicting reports out as I write this. Some say that Ashtiani has been given a reprieve. (Though there's no clarification as to whether that means that she'll just be hanged instead.) Others tell of a growing outcry from governments and celebrities around the world. Then there's the crazy commenters. Some of whom say all of us protesting need to "just go away. It's not your country. It's not your law."

There is that. Yes. But as a citizen of the universe, that BS doesn't fly with me. I learned right from wrong more than 40 years ago. And this is wrong. Very wrong.

But what would Jesus do? I can only guess, mind you, but I think he’ might say something like: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

No matter what your beliefs are (or aren’t), it seems like there’s a whole lot of wisdom in that.


Karen Anne said...

As bad as this is, there are certainly sects in Christianity and Judaism that are pretty barbaric as well. Let's pause and consider the Catholic church's record of child abuse, and Orthodox Judaism's treatment of non-Orthodox women who wander into their neighborhoods.

And the Islam in current Iran is noting like Islam in Lebanon, for example.

As an exercise for the reader, figure out why religion, which is supposed to improve people so often bring out their worst.

NV said...

Karen Anne -- Don't even get me started.

The good news is that most people -- but by no means all people -- are good enough and smart enough to recognize some of these insane practices for what they are and forsake them.