Friars to the Rescue of Human Sexuality!

June 10, 2012

Is religion here to serve humanity or are we here to serve it?  Religion generally implies that it will make the lives of its adherents better–but if you’re a sexual being, especially a woman, maybe that’s just not true.  In a piece on religion in the East, the NY Times pointed out:

Thirteen Iraqi Kurdish women’s rights activists were accused by a prominent Muslim cleric of “blasphemy and demoralizing Kurdish society,” because of their work in promoting gender equality.

Christian Asia Bibi knows something about this.  She is sitting in prison for having violated Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.  What she said is unknown and cannot be repeated because, well, it’s blasphemy and so now she’s awaiting hanging.

The Pakistani novelist Kamila Shamsie (left) notes blasphemy is considered unacceptable regardless of gender, but the prohibition is part of a larger web of laws and practices that have served to restrict women’s rights.  Despite some de-fanging of the most misogynistic laws ever made, the situation of women in Pakistan continues to be dire–at least for those who dare think out of the box.  Shamsie stated,

“A rise in power of the religious right invariably sees a decline in women’s rights.”

The Indian feminist writer and publisher Urvashi Butalia said in an interview,

“…women generally do not have the right to question religion… and it’s not only in Islam.  Look at all those so-called honor killings in India — all of them under the guise of religious sanction and tradition.”

And then there’s the Vatican with its denunciation of an American nun‘s independent consideration of human sexuality.  So similar really, even though we’ve de-fanged the Inquisition.  But there is something growing out there in the world where people are beginning to notice the sexual thread in so much of the religious right’s need to control and so much of the left’s muted reaction.  The Franciscan Friars are in the vanguard for human sexual rights that is usually reserved for the gay community.

Their “open letter” is not racy reading, considering the fact that sex was the subject of the Vatican’s ire.  NPR is actually the better platform.  But King John, I mean, Pope Benedict has a big need to control human sexuality and some calmer words are probably called for.  Are the Pope’s notions about human sexuality the be-all and end-all for American Catholics?  And really, if religion can ever make peace with human sexual nature, maybe it’ll be cool again.  Come, reason with us.

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