“Religious” Complementarianism defined 3/17/2012
It is a newer, more virulent form of male headship than we have ever seen in the history of mainstream Christianity. Its stated purpose for existence is to refute “feminism.”
Although female subordination has always been present as a part of traditional role religion, Complementarianism takes the subordination of women to new heights and becomes the nexus of a believer’s faith.
Complementarianism was defined and formally implemented in 1987. Complementarian leaders state the movement was formed in direct response to the feminist movement and the push to ratify ERA in the 1970’s.
Herein lies the danger of Complementarianism: It is not confined to the home or church house. Complementarianism is a sacred belief of primary significance to adherents. Therefore, complementarians in positions to represent women cannot be trusted to act in the best interest of women.
Complementarianism does not affect just Christians. Religious misogyny held by judges, politicians, employers, teachers, and others demands to be expressed, and it does so in court case rulings, legislative voting, when doling out job raises and promotions, and with treatment of students, etc..
In order to understand how the sacred beliefs of complementarian Christians in positions of authority or influence pose a danger to human rights due to strongly held convictions about gender roles, the book to read and recommend is, Woman this is WAR! Gender, Slavery and the Evangelical Caste System, by Jocelyn Andersen. Although it is written from a Biblical perspective to a Christian audience, it accurately defines and refutes complementarianism while pointing out general dangers to society this paradigm poses.
A few examples of complementarian politicians:
Michelle Bachmann and her dodging of the submission question.
Senator Ronda Storms of FL dismissing the equal rights amendment, seeing no need for it allegedly because she has “achieved parity with men.” Is the real reason Storms will not support constitutional equality because she and her husband are complementarians (after we published that fact last year, the link to the male headship part of her church’s statement of faith was removed that page from the church website—that changes nothing).
Sarah Palin ascribes to male headship. Women can ascribe to male headship and still seek and hold leadership roles in society—as long as their husbands support them in such endeavors—that is why Todd Palin made a public announcement of support for his wife’s political ambitions.
Any man or woman who holds to complementarianism will never support an Equal Rights Amendment, because full functional equality between men and women conflicts with their sacred belief that women are always to have male headship on some level—therefore, there can be no official sanction such as constitutional equality.
Is your child’s teacher a complementarian? Then your son may be sitting under the influence that he is better than girls. Will your daughter be encouraged to achieve as much as she should be? The scenarios go on and on………
[Sandy Oestreich, the owner of this web site and newly introduced to the concept of Complementarianism by author Jocelyn Andersen personally, believes the dangers to society inherent in it warrant a high level of scrutiny and wariness by the public of authorities suddenly embarking on the current Legislative and Others’ War on Women. We believe Complementarianism and its Machiavellian goal of being woven into all spheres of society while we are not watching, constitutes a clear and present danger to male and female alike. So we are obliged to call it out wherever it lies if America is to get back on a democratic, egalitarian track. Join me in staying on guard.]#
[Ed., SandyO: Though ERA Inc has a policy not to publish commercial interests, we have decided that we should not withhold from the battered female public this book. Just because you may be married to a minister/pastor/rabbi does not irrationally protect you against his rage. Read this.]
Volume 59, Number 3, September 2007
This article examines the role of the Mormon Church in the fight against the Equal Rights Amendment during the 1970s. While the historiography of the ERA has largely concentrated on the role of Phyllis Schlafly and Southern fundamentalists in defeating the proposed constitutional amendment, this article argues that the Mormon Church played a critical role in stopping the ERA in states as diverse as Utah, Nevada and Virginia. In doing so, the Mormon Church proved itself a formidable, if overlooked, player in the emerging New Right coalition. This article also highlights the critical role that Mormon women played in the church's political efforts against the ERA. In seeking to defeat a gain for women's equality, the Mormon Church activated its women through their church service organization to work against the amendment's ratification. This work was often presented as a religious calling, and Mormon women opposed the ERA out of service to their church as much as from political conviction. At the same time, the Mormon Church increased its emphasis on women's proper role, stressing wifely submission and domestic duties—a marked change from the church's historic encouragement of women as public figures. In light of the growing constrictions, Mormon women found that the ERA battle provided an opportunity to challenge subtly the limited role their church advocated for them. Mormon women worked to defeat the ERA, this article maintains, in part because of the chance it provided them to show the church they still had a useful public role. By opposing women's equality, LDS women showed the church and themselves that they could be more than housewives. In defending women's place in the home, Mormon women used the battle over the ERA as an opportunity to step out of their homes and take their place on the national political stage.
Springfield, Illinois. Twenty-three Catholic bishops have joined in a statement calling for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, according to the National Organization Catholics Act for ERA.
In a statement from Springfield where ERA backers were fasting in support of the passage of the amendment by the state legislature, the organization said the bishops urged states which have not ratified the ERA to do so by the June 30 deadline.
The ERA, a proposed Constitutional amendment, must be ratified by three more states by the deadline to take effect
Catholics Act for ERA said the bishops' statement is "unprecedented" although individual bishops have previously endorsed the ERA. One who did so recently was Bishop Raymond Lucker of New Dim, Minn.
According to Catholics Act for ERA, Bishop Maurice Dingman of Des Moines explained his support for the ERA by pointing out the bishops' statement is fully consistent with Catholic social teaching such as the Vatican II document "Gaudium et Spes," (The Church in the Modern World) which states in part that "every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, color, social condition, language or religion, is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God's intent."
Another bishop, Auxiliary Bishop Nicholas D'Antonio of New Orleans, said he would be committing a sin if he did not support the ERA. "Justice demands it," he is quoted by Catholics Act assaying. "I'd sin if I did not support it."
The organization, in a press release, reported that Bishop Walter Sullivan of Richmond, Va., called the ERA an important tool for achieving economic justice, civil and human rights.
"If we say 'no' to ERA, are we not saying 'yes' to the status quo of discrimination?" he asked. "Therefore, I say 'yes' to ERA because it promotes equality over discrimination, giftedness over maleness, dignity over subservience, personhood over sex."
Catholics Act added that Bishop Michael McAuliffe of Jefferson City said the ERA is separate from the issue of abortion. According to Catholics Act, he said that "my own sense of reverence for life leads me to take this public stand on behalf of the dignity and equality of all human beingsmen and women."
The statement, which the bishops agreed to on an individual basis, reads: "We the undersigned Catholic bishops believe that equality under the law for all persons is a fundamental issue of justice. Consequently, each of us, speaking in his own name, calls upon legislators in un-ratified states to approve the Equal Rights Amendment before June 30, 1982."
Catholics Act for ERA said the bishops who endorsed the statement are:
By Jimmy Carter
Discrimination and abuse wrongly backed by doctrine are damaging society, argues the former
“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status …” (Article 2, Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
I have been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world.
So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service. This was in conflict with my belief confirmed in the holy scriptures that we are all equal in the eyes of God.
This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. It is widespread. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths.
Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries. The male interpretations of religious texts and the way they interact with, and reinforce, traditional practices justify some of the most pervasive, persistent, flagrant and damaging examples of human rights abuses.
At their most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.
The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.
In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.
The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in
It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and out-dated attitudes and practices as we are seeing in
I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive area to challenge.
But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.
The Elders have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights. We have recently published a statement that declares: “The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.”
We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world’s major faiths share.
Although not having training in religion or theology, I understand that the carefully selected verses found in the holy scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence than eternal truths. Similar Biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.
At the same time, I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted holy scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.
I know, too, that Billy Graham, one of the most widely respected and revered Christians during my lifetime, did not understand why women were prevented from being priests and preachers. He said: “Women preach all over the world. It doesn’t bother me from my study of the scriptures.”
The truth is that male religious leaders have had and still have an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter.
Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.
This news appeared in: The Observer July 12 2009
More Information can be found on The Elders http://www.theelders.org/
“Religion and tradition are a great force for peace and progress around the world.
However, as Elders, we believe that the justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a higher authority, is unacceptable.
We believe that women and girls share equal rights with men and boys in all aspects of life.
We call upon all leaders to promote and protect equal rights for women and girls.
We especially call on religious and traditional leaders to set an example and change all discriminatory practices within their own religions and traditions.
The Elders are fully committed to the realisation of equality and empowerment of all women and girls.”
The Elders, 2 July 2009.
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