JIM CREES: A tough year for women in religion

It’s been a tough year for women in the religious world.

Frankly,  if I was a woman I don’t know if I could subscribe to just about any religious philosophy.

And, ladies and gentlemen, I’m not referring to the Islamic Sharia stuff. I’m talking about the supposed “Good Guys’ - the Judeo-Christian world.

It absolutely amazes me how even today, in 2012, Jewish and Christian elders and sages still treat women like chattels.

Look, It’s Christmas and Hannukah time - a time when the role of women in our collective religious heritage is celebrated.

Centuries ago, the rabbinical authority included the story of Judith in the celebration of Hannukah. During the Middle Ages the Hanukkah celebration wasn’t complete without recalling the earlier story of Judith - a woman who saved her people - the Jews - from the Assyrian oppresors.

The rabbis said that honoring Judith should “ ...never depart from the heart of those who remember the power of God.”

Then, of course, comes Mary the mother of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Christian religion would not exist today without the simple faith of Mary.

And there were so many more women - recognized leaders of both the Jewish and Christian faiths. Women who held the faith together as men were panicking and heading for the hills. Women who served as pastors, priests, deacons, judges and ‘the deciders’ of religions life for hundreds and thousands of years.

Still, despite the Biblically and historically documented roles women played in the history of both the Jewish and Christian faith, even today they are belittled and denigrated by men,  and reminded that they have secondary roles ...if that.

Sadly, this disparagement of the role of women in both church and synagogue is almost universal.

What’s a girl to do?

Over in England, the leaders of the Church of England have struggled for years trying to determine if women would be allowed to serve as bishops.

Recently, they held a balloting on the issue, and women lost.

The General Synod, the Church of England’s legislative body, has ruled, (by six votes), that woman may still be ordained as priests, but they can’t move up the ladder and be a bishop.

It just isn’t proper, or suitable.

OH. MY. G-D..


Women can do the grunt work, but they can’t be in ‘management’? And supposedly God steered the hands of those voting!


Then of course, you have the Catholic Church. (And for those of you who think I’m anti-Catholic, please note. I started off with the Protestants!)

The Catholic hierarchy really stood out this year by castigating American nuns for being too liberal and for supporting a “feminist agenda.”

Catholic bishops also managed to call the Girl Scouts into question, even forming an investigation committee to see if the Girl Scouts were kosher enough to justify participation in the organization by Catholic girls.

Then there is the case of Father Roy Bourgeois.

The good padre was excommunicated a little while back for supporting the ordination of women.

He had first been given the boot from the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, a vocation he had served and fulfilled for 45 years. A short while after he was dismissed from the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers  the Vatican announced  that as a result of his views Father Bourgeois had been sentenced with a “latae setentia” - which is basically an automatic excommunication.

Now, keep in mind, Bourgeois only supported the idea - the idea. It’s not like he was involved in any actual or attempted ordination of a woman.

He just supported an idea.

And after 45 years as a priest, he was excommunicated for standing up for the resurrection of the legitimate historical role of women in the universal church.

And then there are the Jews.

It hasn’t been a good year for women in the Jewish faith either.

For example, in Israel recently, an orthodox Jewish member of parliament, (the Knesset), suggested that male soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces should be issued earplugs in order to block out the sound of women singing during official IDF ceremonies.

In Orthodox Judaism, men are forbidden to hear a woman singing under a religious prohibition called “Kol Isha.” The sages have determined that hearing a woman’s voice is tantamount to seeing a woman naked.

To wit, men are forbidden to hear a woman sing, pray, teach, or study Torah.

The implication is that women are impure, and the tool of the devil.

The Israeli  parliamentarian also suggested that men should have the option of serving in military units that were free of women, so that they wouldn’t “be polluted.”


It’s tough being a woman in the religious world.

Sadly, instead of things getting better as we supposedly become more enlightened, things instead stay the same ...or even get worse.

Sometimes, especially when faced with the stupidity of some Christian clerics and some Jewish rabbis, it’s embarrassing to be a man.