Fundamentalist Christians: Women as Unclean; Poor as Unworthy

Rev. Robin Meyers, author of Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus is my latest Kindle eye-opener. Like the books written by Bishop John Shelby Spong, this minister looks in horror at how ‘the church’ has hijacked the teachings of Jesus and is leading ‘the faithful’ on a course that Jesus would never have followed. Rev. Meyers is also not shy about condemning the fundamentalist-led right-wing of the GOP for promoting biblical literalism rather than focusing on the example of the life of Jesus. Recall the statement I posted months back by a Christian right-winger:  ‘I’m more of an old Testament Christian.’

The GOP’s War on Women continues unabated.  Just today I read that Ohio’s GOP-controlled legislature has introduced legislation to defund most of its support of Planned Parenthood. GOP members of the Ohio House Finance and Appropriations Committee on Tuesday amended one of Gov. John Kasich’s mid-budget review bills to place Planned Parenthood and other independent health clinics at the bottom of the priority list when it comes to distributing $9.7 million in federal family planning money. Rev. Meyers says, “At the time of Jesus, women, considered a source of impurity, were second-class citizens; they were the property of males, forbidden to learn Torah, testify in court, initiate divorce, go out in public unveiled or unaccompanied by a family member, or attend meals unless they were courtesans. The inclusion of so many women in the early Jesus movement is yet another stunning example of his radical vision.”

Women as 2nd class citizens, then and now.  After all, the Bible says…

The poor as well. Author Meyers says,

The ethos of purity [Leviticus, Deuteronomy] produced a politics of purity—that is, a society structured around a purity system. In every culture there are distinctions of class and race that form infinite varieties of the caste system, always distinguished by relative degrees of ritual purity or pollution and ordered by social status ranging from the royals to the untouchables. But in each case, a purity system establishes a social and cultural “map” that indicates “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” The chronically ill, lepers, eunuchs, and so forth—were impure. One’s behavior as well as one’s economic status could render one more or less pure. If you were poor, you were almost certainly considered impure. For one thing, following the labyrinth of purity laws was not possible (or affordable) if you lived on the edge of starvation. So the “righteous” were those who followed the purity system (or could manipulate it), and the “sinners” were those who did not (or could not).

Thus,  the ‘place’ of the poor, the sick, the physically deformed as well as women was under men and below the well-to-do.  That’s why today’s ‘Prosperity Theology’ which encourages accumulation of wealth as God’s Plan is so important to today’s Republican Party in the Bible belt and among fundamentalists in general. The poor be damned, literally!

It seems to me that there really are two Christian movements here in the United States. Two distinct movements. And, therefore, two separate and unequal political agendas. One is driven by the literalistic Christians who ‘are more of an old Testament Christian.’ These are found nearly exclusively in the ranks of today’s Republican Party.  The other is the Christian who followsed the compassionate, radical life and teachings of Jesus who sat with women at meal, talked with the Samaritan woman, cured lepers and the sick, and exposed the bigotry of the so-called clean and pure of his society. Many of these Christians are found in the Democratic Party.

Today’s Catholic finds him/herself in a bind. Their church has traditionally served the poor, needy, homeless and sick.  Many in the church continue to do so.  Yet, the hierarchy has a different agenda altogether- control. Control of the lives of the ‘faithful,’ forcing them to accept either the Medieval ways of the church or the socially conscious path set forth by the publication of Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum in 1891- encouraging social justice above all. These two paths clearly separate Catholics into two distinct political groups, the former, Republicans, and the latter, Democrats.

This split is palpable. Today, for example, it was revealed that the Bishop of Toledo, a strict hierarchical, has been put in charge of investigating Nuns in America.  Yes, investigating Nuns. Apparently, many of them have become ‘too liberal’, too much in touch with liberation theology. Directed by today’s version of the Inquisition, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Bishop Blair is to ferret out the order of nuns who are too involved with the poor, downtrodden and marginalized in our society. If this sounds like the group around which Jesus hung, of course it was. Remember, it was Toledo Bishop Blair who led a demonstration against the Affordable Care Act a few months ago.  You get it.

There’s my take on Jesus and today’s Christian churches. And their political agendas.

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7 thoughts on “Fundamentalist Christians: Women as Unclean; Poor as Unworthy

  1. I notice that Boehner differs with the Catholic Bishops who object to the Ryan budget, gently explaining to them that children, sick people and the elderly should be thrilled that the righties are going to starve them by cutting their aid even further — for their own good.

    How can the Catholic Bishops not appreciate that if those lazy incapacitated people, and those toddlers, would just quit goofing off, they’d be so much happier and healthier and wealthier. Beides, those wealthy people of the upper 1% really need the pittance from the poor; their costs of luxury living are so terribly high after all.

    Abusing women is just their sick sadistic fun on the right. They don’t make as much money out of screwing women over – but not sex!!!!!!!! – as they do abusing the poor. Thats just gratuitous ass-holiness.

  2. Well, now it’s in the open: The Vatican’s War on Nuns

    (Serious question, so please don’t laugh…..I have made comments on this blog about this very subject. I have also referenced my own education by nuns, in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan, that wasn’t “strictly” by The Church Doctrine. Do you think statements like those likely to hurt the nuns? You never know who reading what on the internet or what their “web crawlers” will find.

  3. And yet, didn’t the Catholic bishops just this week declare that
    the Ryan budget was immoral and against the poor? Has any other
    religious group done that?

  4. FROM BISHOP OF TOLEDO TO BISHOP OF PEORIA

    Have you heard about the homily the Bishop of Peoria gave last
    Sunday at the cathedral church in Peoria about President Obama?

    He said that Obama has initiated a culture war against the Catholic
    Church. He likened the President to Bismarck of Germany who
    closed Catholic institutions, Clemenceau (the priest eater) in
    France, Hitler, and Stalin. He said that Obama is “in clear
    violation of our First Amendment rights with his radical,
    pro-abortion, and extreme secularist agenda.”

    Who has objected to the Peoria Catholic Bishop? The Jewish
    Anti-Defamation League, calling the bishop’s homily,
    “outrageous”.

    Go to NBChicago.com to read the original story and listen to the
    audio.

    There it is again, M_R, the issue of abortion. How do we answer
    it? I don’t know!

  5. How many abortions were performed last year in the U.S.? At which stage? For what reasons? And why should Catholics care? And by what authority do the bishops speak? The latter is the most important question.

  6. And here is more….By Reuters

    A prominent U.S. Catholic nuns group said it was “stunned” that the Vatican reprimanded it for spending too much time on poverty and social justice concerns and not enough on abortion and gay marriage.

    In a stinging report on Wednesday, the Vatican said the Leadership Conference of Women Religious had been “silent on the right to life” and had failed to make the “Biblical view of family life and human sexuality” a central plank in its agenda. It accused the group of promoting “certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

    ——————————————————————————–

    It also reprimanded American nuns for expressing positions on political issues that differed, at times, from views held by American bishops. Public disagreement with the bishops — “who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals” — is unacceptable, the report said.

    Advertise | AdChoicesThe Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a “doctrinal assessment” saying the Holy See was compelled to intervene with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious to correct “serious doctrinal problems.”

    The nuns group, based in Silver Spring, Md., said in a statement Thursday on its website, “The presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was stunned by the conclusions of the doctrinal assessment.” It added it may give a lengthier response at a later date.

    The conference says it represents 80 percent of America’s 57,000 Catholic nuns. It is influential both in the United States and globally

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