Religion, Misogyny, Politics, and the Military

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

As much as I struggle with faith, I still am a Catholic (not Roman) Christian. That being said I have to admit that many Christians, especially men, use historic interpretations of scripture to justify positions that are decidedly misogynistic and detrimental to women. These positions range from opposing the ordination or women to justifying the mistreatment, sexual abuse, and rape of women and being “God’s Will.”

In the movie Blazing Saddles there is a scene where Hedley Lamarr (played by Harvey Korman) is recruiting a gang of outlaws to drive the inhabitants of the town of Rock Ridge from their homes. One of the recruits is asked his qualifications and replies : “Rape, murder, arson, and rape.” Lamarr appears stunned and says “You said rape twice,” to wit the outlaw says “I like rape.” Lamarr than laughs heartily and hires him.

Sadly, the film illustrates the attitude of many many men than just outlaws. The film is illustrative of the Church and religious attitudes held by many in the Christian Church, as well as almost every religion, not just those that flow from the seed of Abraham.

The fact is that religion in general puts women in a subservient position, devoid of rights, devoid of authority. The fact is that the texts, or “Canons” that assume this position were all decided on by men and the succeeding doctrines were decided by men is determined to be the Will of God and the Word Of God. Opposing doctrines were heretical, that applies to Christians, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. I won’t address other major non-Abrahamic religions.

To be honest there are some denominations in Christianity and Judaism which have accepted women as full equals, to including in the matter of ordination or leadership, whether as pastors, priests, bishops, or rabbis. But most have not. That discrimination also extends to LGBTQ people, regardless of their gender.

I am white, straight, and married to the love of my life. I respect “big T” church tradition as it is recorded in the Creeds, but I don’t accept supposed “traditions” that deny the rights and worth of any of God’s people. John Dominic Crossan wrote:

“The past is recorded almost exclusively in the voices of elites and males, in the viewpoints of the wealthy and the powerful, in the visions of the literate and the educated.”

Likewise, Barbara Tuchman wrote:

“Theology being the work of males, original sin was traced to the female.”

Despite some of the success of the #MeToo movement the fact is that women in the United States experience a vastly different playing field than do men. This includes women in religion, government, business, and the military. Even successful women are treated with tremendous disrespect and held to a higher standard than their male counterparts. If the have a hard tough edge they are labeled as bitches, when men acting the same way would be admired for their toughness. Men can act out emotions of anger, rage, grief, or sadness without being vilified, they are simply being who they are, if women act out they are considered unfit for the offices they hold.

As a career military officer and chaplain I seen, up close and personal, a culture that on one hand gives lip service to respecting women, but in reality, perpetuate the abuse of women, and God forbid that those women be Lesbian or Trans, in which they are treated even worse, and that includes the military justice system.

Today, Republican Senator Martha McSally of Arizona, a combat veteran Air Force fighter pilot spoke up that she had been raped by a superior officer while on active duty. I am sure that there are hundreds of not thousands more who have not spoken out, mainly due to the fear of retribution and the hurt it would cause their families. I know some of these women from different parts of my military career.

When it comes to sexual abuse or rape, God help a woman if she comes forward. She will be subjected to scrutiny and condemned in hearings, depositions, and at trial should it go that far. She will be treated as if she were the criminal, and even if she wins in court the damage will be lasting. As for those who did not report their their rapes out of legitimate fears of retribution from men in the institutions that they served, or from the men and institutions they were attending as students, they are held to an even higher standard of proof. “How dare they speak ill of successful men!”

It happens every day, and not just to high level well known women. I know far too many women in the military and in the ministry who have, after making legitimate grievances known, and won those cases been subjected to retribution from allies of the men who caused them harm. This happens all too often in the military where high ranking men can be assured that the religious establishment will defend them, and where senior ranking male Chaplains know that they can use the system to get retribution on their accusers, without any further danger.

It angers me when I see women in male dominated institutions be subjected to such abuse. So I will continue to speak up on such matters of the church, in the military, in government, and in the private sector. I refuse to be a bystander when I see such injustice continue.

But the fact is that far less talented men are held to a lower standard than incredibly talented women simply because they have a penis, sometimes, not even a very big one.

Until tomorrow,


Padre Steve+


Filed under crime, culture, ethics, faith, LGBT issues, Military, News and current events, Political Commentary

7 responses to “Religion, Misogyny, Politics, and the Military

  1. Pierre Lagacé

    Thanks Padre.

  2. PInky

    IT happened to me and I cant get into too many details but I was raised Roman Catholic and my oldest brother was allegedly molested by a priest then raped me and his daughter and broke her legs at age 2 nobody cared even with DNA Proof. I stopped believing in God all together until the Lord reach out to me and I then realized it was not God but religion that did this! Then I was raped by a pimp who tried to recruit me and fortunately for me someone broke his legs on my behalf.
    He is still doing his thing and even tried to contact me on FB. MY brother is still doing his thing too and using religion as a cover up and my parents are enabling him because the church can do no wrong.
    But the worst part is when I was sued in 2002 by a woman who is clinically mentally ill and happens to be rich and called a whore in the international news the judge allowed them to call me . whore in court then said they couldn’t use that word but called my brother to use him to try to discredit me. Because of that case I am not allowed to work by the Ny courts. I could go on and on but victimization of abuse victims is never ending.
    I could go on and on but you get the picture.
    The whole thing about something being Gods will is abused across the board. From religion, to politics to crime.
    I myself find politics to be boring. Everyone on both sides says toe same stuff and hardly any of it is to protect victims of crime. I hear alot of Black Lives matter and stuff but hardly anything about women being abused or the churches lack of love towards them.
    Thank you for speaking out on this!

    • padresteve

      It is a horrible thing. I have seen too much of it in my life. Too often when I have spoken out I have been brushed off by those in power. The pain and humiliation I have seen so many women go through in the church, military, the private sector, or government is discouraging. Our currant President does not help with all the things he calls female political opponents.

  3. Thank you. I was raised Roman Catholic & when I was raped, nobody but nobody believed me. In fact, it was MY fault. I lost my faith for many years. At this point, I am more a cultural Catholic than anything. It’s only my devotion to the Holy Mother that sustains me.

    • padresteve

      Good on you for hanging in there despite all that happened to you. That takes real courage regardless of what the level of your faith is. I have a lot of doubts and struggle myself. Blessings and thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks for posting. As a fellow Catholic who has struggled with all the scandal coming out of the Church, we need more voices like yours pushing the Church to be better, to do better, to truly be a reflection in f heaven on Earth.

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