Honorable mention — Grad student essay contest: Amber Wright
How the bible continues to violate women’s rights
FFRF awarded Amber $200.
By Amber Wright
The principle of religious freedom is one of America’s core values. The story of how the Pilgrims came to America to have freedom of religion has been taught in classrooms across the country from children in kindergarten just learning about the first Thanksgiving to high schoolers taking AP U.S. History. There’s more to the story of the Pilgrims and why they really came to America, but what has been passed down is the inspiring tale of their escape from religious persecution by the Church of England. Through the early stages of the nation, lawmakers juggled with the structure of religious policy. It came to be that freedom of religion was a constitutional right and America vowed to separate church and state in its policies.
Despite claiming “freedom of religion” and the separation of church and state are American rights, the United States uses the bible, a book with the teachings of Christianity, as a basis of morality, ethics and law. Christianity has been intertwined into America’s being from small instances such as “In God We Trust” on currency to larger and more influential areas such as policy. Policies in the United States based on the bible and Christianity have been and continue to be unfair to and disenfranchise groups such as women, the LGBTQ community and people of color. These beliefs continue to prevail today and prevent progressive social change.
Women, who can fall into all three of the aforementioned disenfranchised groups, have been fighting for social change and equal rights much longer than necessary and yet are still treated like second-class citizens in U.S. society, much of which stems from antiquated beliefs. In America, women are rapidly losing more rights and most recently have lost some rights over their reproductive systems in multiple states, a decision exclusively made by politicians of the opposite gender. Many Christian politicians will use the bible to support their stance on women’s rights, equal pay or even why a woman shouldn’t be president.
The inferiority of women is present throughout the bible starting from the book of Genesis, which states that Adam was made in God’s image, making him and thus all subsequent men holy, whereas Eve was created by God taking one of Adam’s ribs (Genesis 2:22) and not made in God’s image, but only as an extension of Adam. While in the Garden of Eden, Eve partakes in the forbidden fruit, thus inciting God’s wrath on all humankind. This passage implies that Eve, and consequently all women, are the root of all sin and evil because of Eve’s actions, whereas Adam is blameless. The passage is also used as a reference point as to why women aren’t “as smart” or “as capable” as men and therefore are inferior. As punishment for Eve’s actions, God cursed her and all women with the pain of childbirth and deemed maternity as a sin (Genesis 3:16).
An abortion ban was recently passed in some states, which now limits women from making decisions over their own reproductive systems; it is a blatant civil rights violation. Policies like this police and restrict women’s bodies and their choices. In many ways, this ban is reminiscent of Genesis 3:16, in which God cursed all women with motherhood and with pain during childbirth. Women are punished for being sexually active and must suffer by carrying a pregnancy to term whether it’s their choice or not.
Women have been lacking autonomy since before biblical times and that continues in society today. This theme of women’s inferiority is not only present in the Old Testament, but also the New Testament. I Corinthians 11:8-9 states, “For the man is not of the woman; . . . Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” This reinforces that women weren’t created for themselves, but rather to be a submissive companion for men, as
the bible devalues women and reduces them to property. Women aren’t allowed to make decisions about their own lives, much less about their own bodies, without a say from the opposite gender. With the recent violation of civil rights against women, the abortion ban shows that Christianity still heavily influences policy in the United States. The bible is a piece of literature that has no place to shape public policy as it deprives minority groups of civil rights and prevents our society from achieving equality and equity.
Amber, 26, is from New York City and attends The New School, where she is working toward a master’s degree in media studies. She enjoys traveling and experiencing new cultures, and speaks Spanish and Italian. Amber has worked at media companies such as NBCUniversal and Viacom and hopes to combine her interest of media, psychology, and activism in her career.