Monday School: Religion and domestic violence

 
It’s Monday, which means it time once again for Monday School! Your ongoing weekly helping of the Rational Corrective To All That Nonsense You Learned Yesterday!’

This week’s Monday school is going to cover a very sensitive subject, that being the case of domestic violence. I came across a few blogs that happen to discuss this issue because of a booklet that was being handed out by the zealots on the streets. The newest versions of these God magazines happen to target a new group of people that apparently easier targets to pick on in their fragile state: women who are abused by their husbands.

Normally I don’t accept religious pamphlets from zealots when walking to the mall, but I couldn’t help but take it this time when I gazed upon the shocking cover of it:

 

I’m not sure about you, but the cover posted is quite upsetting. Religious pamphlets such as the cover appear to target these women who are victimized and attempt offer them salvation. It makes the false claim that if they accept God and bring the word of their God to their abusive husbands… the violence will magically end. If you actually read these religious rags… they have the gall, the outright nerve to lecture to women that the violence in the household is their fault if they don’t accept God into their lives and for not being better wives. These magazines even suggest that the real reason why their husbands are beating them is because they’re not doing enough to be a good Christian.

Are you fucking serious?

To give you an example, the following was taken from ‘The Watchtower’, released February 15th, 2012. The article had the theme that ‘Happiness is possible in a divided household’, and tells the following story to its readers:

“Many modern-day examples illustrate the value of applying Peter’s counsel. Consider the case of Selma. When she began to study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses, her husband, Steve, was not pleased. He admits, “I became angry, jealous, possessive, and insecure.” Selma observes: “Even before I got the truth, living with Steve was like walking on eggshells. He was hot-tempered. When I started studying the Bible, this characteristic intensified.” What helped?

Selma recalls a lesson she learned from the Witness who studied with her. “On one particular day,” says Selma, “I didn’t want to have a Bible study. The night before, Steve had hit me as I had tried to prove a point, and I was feeling sad and sorry for myself. After I told the sister what had happened and how I felt, she asked me to read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. As I did, I began to reason, ‘Steve never does any of these loving things for me.’ But the sister made me think differently by asking, ‘How many of those acts of love do you show toward your husband?’ My answer was, ‘None, for he is so difficult to live with.’ The sister softly said, ‘Selma, who is trying to be a Christian here? You or Steve?’ Realizing that I needed to adjust my thinking, I prayed to Jehovah to help me be more loving toward Steve. Slowly, things started to change.” After 17 years, Steve accepted the truth.”

I’m a guy, and this is enough for me to want to reach for the barf bag. This has to be one of the most offensive things I have read in while and it’s one of the main reasons why I don’t accept these garbage pamphlets from believers on the streets anymore. I find that their views which are often racist, sexist and homophobic views often upset me whenever I read them. For some reason I felt compelled to give this one a read because of the group of people they appeared to be reaching out to.

And the part that offended me the most: after 17 years? So after seventeen years of more abuse and likely more beatings… Steve finally accepted the word of God and became a better husband? You’d think someone would have called the police by then and sent Steve to the drunk tank long before seventeen years passed by, right?

The truth is, many men who fall into a pattern of abuse often are victims of past abuse themselves, dating back to when they were assaulted by their own fathers. The idea that violence is the answer was literally beaten into them. It’s very hard for the victim to break the pattern that likely has been going on for generations, but it’s possible. Through therapy and counseling, it’s possible to break that pattern. Appealing to a ‘high power’ that doesn’t exist that has a history of encouraging a patriarchal system would not make things better between men and women who have domestic issues and might even make them worse. Over 80% of people who live in America are religious to begin with… so that means at least 80% of people who are abusing their wives are religious. So what difference is God making in domestic violence? Not much apparently.

And what does the bible itself say about your wife? Take a look:

“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” (Eph 5:22)

“Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” (Eph 5:24)

“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” (Col 3:18)

Are we seeing a pattern here? Truth is the followers and leaders of Jehovah’s Witness and pretty much most religions really don’t care about the issue of domestic violence. It’s a fact that far too many women continue to suffer at the hands of abusive husbands that are set up as the head of the household in a typical patriarchal fashion. This is perfect situation for domestic violence. Women are not treated as equals but as lesser than men, which opens them to abuse cause men are not looked down on or shunned by their church for being violent toward both their wife and children.

The real problem is that the Watchtower Society then tells women to stay in this situation and that the problem for the violence is them for not loving their husbands and God enough! How ridiculous! They need protection from police, not prayer! Their husbands need to be tossed in jail for what they do, not be told it’s all right and that it’s the woman’s fault. These magazines have things ass backwards, a view that is actually quite common coming from religious zealots.

In order to stop domestic violence, the aggressive spouse needs to be separated from the ideal that marriage is about power. We need to focus on the ideal that marriage is more of a partnership with the expectation that no one spouse has more power than the other. When the spouse (male or female) is recognized as an equal partner and not looked down at as a subordinate can things start to get better, despite the efforts being made by those crappy religious magazines. It’s clear from what I read that religion doesn’t approve of that kind of marriage so I doubt they would even try to prevent or stop spousal abuse. The fact that they think their magic book can do that is just another sign of how delusional they really are.

I don’t know about you, but a book that views women as objects that should be silent and stand in the corner isn’t the place to go if you’re looking to find salvation from an abusive husband. I doubt a holy book that tells parents to not ‘spare the rod’ is going to give up beating their wives and kids if religion keeps pandering to them as the only true authority figure in the house. If anything, religion makes things worse for people who are trying to get away from abuse, not better. Religion spurns men on to covet their power and to punish those who undermine it. Religions have also been known to banish women who leave their husbands to get away from abuse but not say a word to the husband who is beating her to begin with. If this is the kind of hypocrisy that churches are offering to women who are being abused, they need to back away and stop interfering in what is a very serious issue in America.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m sickened to see magazines like this that claim to be the solution to the problem when they’re actually partly responsible for it. Men are taught to not respect women and a lot of that chauvinism comes from the bible and their pastors. Religion has been provoking violence and repression against women since the very beginning and now they want victims of that violence to convert with the empty promise to magically make their problems disappear. Magic isn’t real and neither is the Gods that they appeal to. The sooner people understand that, the sooner we can educate people to treat all of our spouses (men and/or women) as equals and not someone to serve us. When that happens, things will get a little better.

Until that day… please refer to the information below if you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence.

PJ


The United States:

National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233): Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, this line is a resource for safety information and can connect any caller with shelters and protection advocates in her area.

VINE (VineLink.com): Active in 47 states, VineLink.com allows women to search for an offender in custody by name or identification number, then register to be alerted if the offender has been released or transferred, or has escaped.

Women’s Law (WomensLaw.org): This site has state-by-state legal information and resources for victims, as well as advice on how to leave an abusive situation, gather evidence of abuse, and prepare for court.
Canada:

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

Dialing 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) will connect you with an advocate to speak with confidentially at any time, 24/7, 365 days a year.

Or TTY 1-800-787-3224.
The United Kingdom:

To talk to someone in confidence for support, information or an emergency referral to temporary accommodation, contact the free 24 hour National

Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247

Website: www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk/

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