Research Papers on Women and Religion
The role that women play in any given religion depends largely on the faith in question. The role of women in Christianity, for example, is far different from the role of women in Hinduism. Generally speaking, the role of women has long been limited, with female practitioners taught to be subservient and obedient to their husbands or fathers.
In many Christian denominations, women are restricted from serving in the highest roles.
- The Roman Catholic doctrine prohibits women from serving as bishops or popes.
- Women are, however, identified as saints in Catholic teachings.
- Many denominations, particularly in Protestant faiths, are allowing women to serve as ministers in increasing numbers.
- The Jewish faith is unique in the role women play: while women are prevented from serving in the highest roles in the Jewish faith, the very identity of Jewishness is a trait that is passed down from mother to child.
While the Hindu faith has many goddesses worthy of worship, it also teaches girls to obey and be protected by their fathers or husbands. Sacred texts, however, teach that women are to be honored and revered. In Buddhist teachings, women are expected to be obedient to their husbands; however, Buddha also taught that husbands are expected to be obedient to their wives. Finally, Sikhism has as one of its core tenets that men and women have the same souls; neither one has more or less of a right to seek out and develop their spirituality. Women are able to lead congregations and fulfill all the duties of a religious leader. This stands in stark contrast to Judeo-Christian teachings, demonstrating that the role of women in religion is as diverse and varied as world religions themselves.
From Marx to feminists, religion has played an important role in the discourse of sociology. Likewise, its function in society is a source of much debate within the sociological framework. However, its effects on American culture are profound. Whereas recent trends may point to a growing politicization of religion, it has been an institution deeply ingrained in our national identity since our early beginnings. Perhaps it is not religion itself but the dogma that accompanies it that makes it a powerful tool that unites some while continuing to marginalize many.