- Feminist theology
theologyis a movement, generally in Christianity, Judaismand New Thought, to reconsider the traditions, practices, scriptures, and theologies of their religion from a feminist perspective. Some of the goals of feminist theology include increasing the role of womenamong the clergyand religious authorities, reinterpreting male-dominated imagery and language about God, determining women's place in relation to careerand motherhood, and studying images of women in the religion's sacred texts.
Feminists have attempted to counter perceptions of women as morally or spiritually inferior to men; as a source of sexual
temptation; as dedicated to childbearing, their homes, and husbands; and as having a lesser role in religious ritual or leadership because of such inferiority or dedication.
Feminist theology attempts to consider every aspect of religious practice and thought. Some of the questions feminist theologians ask are:
*How do we do
theology? The basic question of how theologians may go about creating systems of thought is being reinterpreted by feminist theologians. Many feminist theologians assert that personal experience can be an important component of insight into the divine, along with the more traditional sources of holy books or received tradition. (The relevance of personal experience to the policies of groups of people is a familiar notion to veterans of the feminist movement.)
*Who is God? Feminist theologians have supported the use of non- or multi-
gendered language for God, arguing that language powerfully impacts belief about the behavior and essence of God.
*Where are women in religious history? Feminist historical theologians study the roles of women in periods throughout history that have impacted religion: the Biblical period, the early Christian era, medieval Europe, and any period of import to a particular religion. They study individual women who influenced their religion or whose religious faith led them to impact their culture. The work of these scholars has helped feminist theologians claim historical figures as their predecessors in feminist theology. For example,
Sojourner Truth's " Ar'n't I a Woman?" speech pointed out, "Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman. Man had nothing to do with him!" Elizabeth Cady Stantonproduced the "Woman's Bible," excising the traditional Christian text of all references she thought contradicted the positions of women's rights.
Bahá'í Faithhas as one of its main teachings the principle of the equality of men and women.cite journal |title=Advancement of Women: A Baha'i Perspective, by Janet and Peter Khan: Transforming the roles of women and men, a Review |first=Veronica |last=Shoffstall |journal=One Country |volume=10 | number = 3 |location=New York |publisher=Baha'i International Community |date=1999-10 |id=ISSN|1018-9300 |url=http://bahai-library.com/?file=shoffstall_khan_advancement_women] The Bahá'í teachings suggest that for humanity to advance, that each gender, though not identical in function, must work in unison with each other and allow the healthy functioning of society. The Bahá'í teachings state that gender equality has positive results for everyone, not only women, and that the benefits that result as society improves the station of women, also results in positive results for men. One of the main ways that the Bahá'í Faith believes that gender equality can be achieved is through the Bahá'í belief in universal education, which requires the same academic and spiritual education for both girls and boys.cite book |title=Social Justice, Wealth Equity and Gender Equality: Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís of Alberta |chapter=Gender Equality |first=Leslie William |last=Kuzyk |location=Calgary |year=2003 |publisher=University of Calgary (Alberta), Faculty of Graduate Studies |url=http://bahai-library.com/?file=kuzyk_social_justice_alberta#_Toc47346941]
The history of feminism in
Bahá'í historybegins with Táhirih, an early Babi leader,cite book |title=Selected Topics of Comparison in Christianity and the Baha'i Faith, MA-Thesis |first=Peter |last=Mazal |publisher=Landegg Academy |location=Switzerland |url=http://bahai-library.com/?file=mazal_comparison_christianity_bahai.html&chapter=2 |chapter=The Woman and the Child |year=2003] and the history contains many other prominent women including Ásíyih Khánum, Bahiyyih Khánum (who is the only woman who was the head of a large religion, even if briefly), Martha Root, Munírih Khánum, May Maxwelland Rúhíyyih Khánum.cite web |title=Women in the Vanguard |first=Dale E. |last=Lehman |date=2003-03-03 |accessdate=2006-09-15 |publisher=planetbahai.org |url=http://www.planetbahai.org/cgi-bin/articles.pl?article=93] With this early spiritual leadership of women, the effort of recognizing the equality of women and men has been on ongoing internal and external rallying point for Bahá'ís.
Among the more recent projects which sees the principle of advancing the role of women to equality are the Bahá'í-inspired
Táhirih Justice Centerand the Barli Vocational Institute for Rural Women in Indorein India. Layli Miller-Murofounded the Táhirih Justice Center in 1997 following a well-publicized asylum case in which she was involved as a student attorney.Fauziya Kassindja, "Do They Hear You When You Cry." p. 171. The case name became "Matter of Kasinga", because Fauziya did not know if it was proper to correct the immigration official who misspelled her last name on her entry into the United States.] Layli later co-wrote a book with the client she had aided and used her portion of the proceeds for the initial funding of Táhirih. As of 2003, the organization had assisted more than 4,000 women and children fleeing from a wide variety of abuses. [http://neuron.com/legal_Táhirih_app/docs/AR_2003_Final.pdf 2003 Annual Report] "Táhirih Justice Center", Retrieved July 10, 2006] The Barli Vocational Institute for Rural Women in Indore was founded in 1985 in India and offers a six-month program for tribal women at its facilities in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.cite web |url=http://www.bahaindia.org/social/barlimore.html |title=Barli Development Institute for Rural Women |accessdate=2006-09-15 |publisher=bahaindia.org |date=2003-08-11 |author=bahaindia.org] Through June 1996, a total of 769 rural tribal women have been trained at the Institute; the women came from 119 villages, and after returning home to their cities or villages 45% of them established small businesses, 62% are functionally literate or semi-literate (which has motivated people to send their children to school), 42% have started growing vegetables, 97% are using safe drinking water, all the former trainees and many of their male relatives have given up drinking alcohol, and caste prejudices have been eliminated.cite web |url=http://www.geocities.com/rainforest/2519/ |title=Barli Vocational Institute for Rural Women |author=Barli Vocational Institute for Rural Women |accessdate=2006-09-15 |date=2002-02-17]
New Thought movement
In the latter part of the 20th Century, feminism was influential in the rise of
Neopaganismin the United States, and particularly the Dianic tradition. Some feminists find the worship of a goddess, rather than a god, to be consonant with their views. Others are polytheists, and worship a number of goddesses. The collective set of beliefs associated with this is sometimes known as thealogyand sometimes referred to as the Goddess movement. See also Dianic Wicca.
Gender and God
Others who practice feminist spirituality may instead adhere to a feminist re-interpretation of Western monotheistic traditions. In those cases, the notion of
Godas having a male gender is rejected, and God is not referred to using male pronouns. Feminist spirituality may also object to images of God that they perceive as authoritarian, parental, or disciplinarian, instead emphasizing "maternal" attributes such as nurturing, acceptance, and creativity.
Christian theological praxis
Ordination of women
When God Was a Woman
Pamela Sue Anderson, "A feminist philosophy of religion: the rationality and myths of religious belief" (Oxford; Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 1998)
Pamela Sue Andersonand Beverley Clack, eds., "Feminist philosophy of religion: critical readings" (London: Routledge, 2004)
* [http://bahai-library.com/?file=finch_unclipping_wings Unclipping the Wing: A Survey of Secondary Literature in English on Baha'i Perspectives on Women] by Trevor R. J. Finch
* [http://bahai.org/dir/teachings/equality/equality_gender Directory of Bahá'í Articles on Gender Equality]
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