Category Archives: Religion

US Supreme Court backs Colorado baker’s gay wedding cake snub


Personally, I feel that businesses, regardless of the goods or services provided, should be able to make decisions about whom to serve/service based on their own religious beliefs. I think that this couple chose to elevate this issue way beyond what was necessary, if you don’t like a business owner and their beliefs – why do you even want to give them your business? Perhaps I am looking at this situation from too much of a simplified point of view, but I think that it’s as simple as the signs you see on businesses everyday: “No shirt, no shoes, no service.” If business can turn people away because of what they are wearing, why should they not be able to refuse service to someone based on their strongly held religious beliefs?

As this has been a huge topic of discussion lately and I just wanted to see what others thought about it. Do you agree with the ruling? Why or why not?

Religion, Gender Roles, and Inequality

Religion, Gender Roles, and Inequality

Substantive Blog Post #1 (Research for Final Paper)

Ambivalent Sexism, Scriptural Literalism, and Religiosity


For my final paper, I have decided to examine how religious interpretations influence female gender roles and inequality, with a focus on Christianity. As a female Christian, this is an issue that I am interested in due to my first hand observations in the church, and seek to understand more both about how these religious ideologies impact women, as well as ways that this can be changed. After doing my own personal soul seeking and religious study in the Bible, with the support of verses like “neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28),” I do not adhere to the more orthodox interpretation of the Bible in terms of gender. I consider myself to be what author, Sarah Bessey calls a “Jesus Feminist.”

Article Details:

The first article I have selected for my research is called Ambivalent Sexism, Scriptural Literalism, and Religiosity (Burn and Busso 2005). In this study, authors Shawn Meghan Burn and Julia Busso examine the role of scriptural literalism and religiosity in perpetuating sexism in a Christian sample of men and women. Research questions considered in this correlational study include the following: How does intrinsic and extrinsic religiosity in addition to scriptural literalism influence ambivalent sexism? What factors determine whether sexism will be hostile or benevolent? In this research, hostile sexism is defined as “an adversarial view of gender relations in which women are perceived as seeking to control men through sexuality or feminist ideology (Burn and Busso 2005: 413).” Benevolent sexism is defined as “a chivalrous ideology that views women as best suited for traditional roles and as pure creatures needing male protection and adoration (Burn and Busso 2005: 413).”

Burn and Busso (2005) based their research on feminist theory in conjunction with prior research showing that religion determines one’s view of gender and gender roles in society and thus results in gender inequality. As such, previous research has shown that traditional, fundamentalist views of religion more readily promote the unequal treatment of women, due to the patriarchal origins of these views. Many of these fundamentalist views have historically supported their claims with the idea the that their source is divine. Their focus on the intrinsic and extrinsic role of religion gained its origin in research by McFarland (1989), which determined that once fundamentalism had been controlled, extrinsic religion made sexism more likely, and intrinsic religion made sexism less likely in men. Women were not impacted (Burn and Busso 2005).

The results of this study leaves several important takeaways for policy and practice. Intrinsic, extrinsic, and scriptural literalism results in a prevalence of benevolent sexism. This encompasses ideas that men should serve as the protector, women are better suited for parental characteristics, and husbands should serve a specific role in the household out of duty. Results also showed that religiosity lended itself to different types of benevolent sexism. For instance, those who took a more extrinsic, literal approach to Christianity were more likely to support heterosexual literalism, meaning husbands serve a protective role. Extrinsic religiosity also reflected that there should be gender differentiation as a result of women being naturally inclined to certain roles. With these results in mind, the article explains that policy and practice should consider religion as a component when determining disparities in female power and status. This reality is a major factor in perpetuating global gender inequality (Burn and Busso 2005).


Burn, Shawn M., and Julia Busso, J. 2005. “Ambivalent Sexism, Scriptural Literalism, and Religiosity.” Psychology of Women Quarterly, 29: 412-418.

Considering Taboos Among #MeToo Campaigns in West Africa

In October of 2017, #MeToo Challenges Taboo Against Admitting Sexual Abuse in Africa was released as a brief conversation around #MeToo and its “success” as a campaign in west Africa. While the movement does suffer negativity in its western presence (that is, within the U.S.), even more backlash and controversy surrounding the conversation exists in its west-African locales. In African and African-cultural discourse, it has been argued that the imposition of western ideals – and, indeed, the terminology employed in its expression – seeks to imply the continuation of colonial and occidental practices as “proper” among non-industrialized communities. Through this concern, a dialogue regarding the understanding of cultural and religious practices within those bodies finds its genesis.

This article elaborates over particular concerns of the #MeToo campaign within Senegal and Nigeria. As a community of sociologists-in-training, and as a generation that is growing to pride itself as the catalysts of social justice and reform, it is critical that we understand the breadth of the religious and cultural practices that influence our positions on justice and reform in certain settings. Though the U.S. does waiver often in its understanding and, subsequently, its conviction of sexual misconduct cases, the populace and its government have sought to outline what defines such instances. These definitions are established through our cultural understanding of what is “sexually deviant” or “sexually unacceptable.” In this regard, most of those definitions chiefly exist as the result of some religious conviction that determines what is irregular among society–this especially holds true within the U.S., where a nation has rallied around the concepts of Judeo-Christian ethics and their meshing with law. Yet, in Nigeria, where indigenous religious practices have been hosted long before the advent of Christianity, the comprehension of sexual misconduct is informed by its traditional values.

The #MeToo campaign – in such settings – may forget the significance of cultural and religious taboos that impact its purpose; this results from its formation within a nation that cannot (or, rather, will not) identify with the indigenous needs of such places. How do we translate such campaigns in places where the language of expression is accompanied by misguided nuances, or is altogether unidentifiable with the environment’s unique, culturally-charged plights? In a campaign that lives in an effort to unify victims of such terror (both nationally and internationally), we must recall the implications of using westernized language in broad, general senses. It is not always applicable, and too often we forget that the same ethos that drives our reasoning does not indefinitely guide all reasoning, universally. We cannot apply such limited considerations to campaigns that expand beyond our borders of conversations.

In keeping with the theme that culture and religion largely influence the salience of such suffused causes: the local populations must be involved in such processes in order to ensure success. With particular emphasis on this article, the taboos associated with sexual assault or harassment within those cultures stigmatizes its victims–it is not beyond us to understand why the stigmatization of those victims (by their family, their community, etc.) would prevent their coming forward. Removing the colonial, westernized relationship with such instances, we must push for the conception of their fears as they have been founded by their cultural and religious traditions. It is futile to assume that those experiences in our environment are equivalent to all other experiences. Perhaps allegorical in some senses, this article contributes to these foci; it argues that greater issues exist for those individuals (especially women) who are the victims of sexual misconduct in regions that are not governed by the decidedly Judeo-Christian legal foundation that hallmarks the United States.

A Girl Like Me

Teenage filmmaker Kiri Davis created a short film about race and young women in America. She recreated the “doll test” that was used by Dr. Kenneth Clark to settle Brown vs. Board of Education. She documents the result in her 7 minute documentary.

This video reminded me of a time I was helping out with arts and crafts as part of a VBS style church ministry at the Boys and Girl’s club several years ago. My friends had dragged me there and I sat at a table with 10-20 children aged 5-10 years old not sure what to do. They were all coloring pages of a Bible-themed coloring book. The girl sitting beside me was maybe five or six years old, and black. She kept asking me what colors to use and if she had picked the right color. When she got to the skin color, she picked up a peach colored crayon and said, “this is the right color, right?” I was taken aback. I tried to explain that she could use whatever color she wished and that the disciples and characters in the Bible weren’t white anyway. Still, she chose the peach color because it was the “right” color.

How is that we are still teaching young women that the lighter skin is better than darker skin, that light-skinned means good, beautiful, pure, nice, etc?   Lindsay Cortwright

Egypt’s Brotherhood Blasts UN Women’s Document

Sarah El Deeb’s article discusses the opposition that a UN Women’s document has received from the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt. The group has opposed this document because of clauses within it that they consider incompatible with the tenants of Islam. Actual details of the document have yet to be released pending negotiations. Officials are remaining optimistic that the document will pas, but there is speculation that Egypt will seek the choice to opt out of sections of the document before passing it. Libya has also publicly rejected the document. Egypt has called for an amendment to the document before they would approve it. Issues lie in the differences in interpretations of ideologies of Islamic law. The rise in Fundamentalist groups as a result of protests and political upheavals in the region has led to more traditional interpretations as well as an increase in violence against women. Women activists have responded on both sides, some agreeing with the document and others with those who have challenged it. Issues between differences in interpretations have created contention amongst Politicians and activist who have called for stronger protection and enforcement of rights for women. Shannon


“Amreeka” Film Showing 4.18.2011

On Monday, April 18, 2011 the Ethnic Studies Program hosted a film showing of the film Amreeka. Amreeka is the story of an immigrant family’s journey to the US and their introduction to American culture. It also a continuation of their lesson in raw prejudice. Amreeka first deals with problems that many immigrants to US struggle with upon coming to America. Firstly, the audience sees the family, a mother and son, Muna and Fadi dealing with immigrating to America in a post-9/11 world. It is most important to understand that because living in and trying to get into a post 9/11 America is very difficult for most Americans and people of other countries, particularly those who were from the Middle East, were of the Muslim faith or were of Middle Eastern descent. However, the scene where they and their goods are being examined should be regarded with caution. It is easy to say that they are being questioned and searched because they are not only foreigners but also Middle Eastern. However, the counterargument to that is that they being searched because they are foreigners entering the US and that their particular race and presumed religious ideologies have nothing to do with their examination. In fact, as we later learn, the family is actually Christian. Not Muslim. In the beginning of the film, when the mother and son are finally settled into the home of their family, they must immediately deal with money problems. Unbeknownst to him, Fadi allowed the airport security to take away a tin of cookies containing $2,500 dollars, all the money his mother had. Fortunately, her brother, had given Fadi $200 dollars, so they at least had some money with them. Also, Fadi and Muna deal with American culture. Another family member takes stock of Fadi’s clothes and notes that he wears particular clothing, he will be considered “F.O.B.” or “Fresh Off the Boat”, meaning it will become immediately obvious that he is an immigrant because of his older attire. Quickly, Muna and Fadi attempt to ameliorate their attire. Also, Muna experiences feelings of discomfort with her body type. Fadi deals with being a new school and the education system of the US. Also, Fadi is bullied by members of his class, who are not accepting of him because of his Middle Eastern heritage. Also, it is noted that these boys have family members in the military who are in Iraq. During the setting of this movie, the U.S. invasion of Iraq has just begun. The family also deals with discrimination in finding jobs because Muna’s ethnicity, even though she is not Muslim. She is well educated with 10 years of work experience in a bank but she is forced to take a job at a White Castle restaurant. This is a point of humiliation for her, being both a proud immigrant and an educated woman. Also, Muna and Fadi deal with language barriers as they navigate American culture. Colloquialisms are difficult for them to understand. Also, Fadi tries smoking “Mary Jane” and gets into a fight with a classmate over causing his mother’s slip and fall at work and is later arrested, briefly detained and unrealistically released after some bargaining with a Jewish principal who befriends them despite the “serious allegations” against him. Muna also gets suckered into trying raise money for herself with one of America’s many weight loss scam products, “HerbalLose”. Not only is Muna dealing with being an immigrant, she is also dealing with being a divorcee. At the end of the novel, it is clear that Muna and the Jewish principal may have chemistry between the two of them. As Muna notes “We are a minority there (Christians) and a minority here (Middle Easterners).”

This movie is far from being the best movie to handle such an intense and thick debate but it works because it’s easy to follow and sends to message to audience. It does however reinforce and create new stereotypes as it crushes others. For instance, the whites in the film are racist. Members of the military (or at least their family members) have problems with Muslims, Middle Easterners and others not like them and they are so ignorant they cannot even spell names of terrorist organizations correctly. Also, the black boy who is in a relationship with Fadi’s outspoken female cousin, dresses in “ghetto” or “gangsta” clothing, smokes weed, listens to rap, and skips school and seems generally disinterested in school. This movie also has a nice, clean and “happy” ending with a Jewish man and a Middle Eastern family coming together and having dinner together. While not entirely unrealistic, it was certainly corny. The same is true with the husband’s medical practice failing because of uncomfortable patients changing to practices without Middle Eastern doctors. Also, Muna decides that she does not need to diet and is happy with her body. Again, while not unrealistic, that conclusion is much to neat and sudden for film, where even the pre-America scenes showed Muna unhappy with her body type and yet suddenly, in the last minutes of the film she expresses a love of her body.

Malaysia’s anti-gay camp violates law, says minister

This article from the BBC details a the Malaysian Women’s Minister Shahrizat Abdul Jalil’s response to a camp that claims to “un-gay” young Muslim boys.  She maintains that characterizing these supposedly effeminate teenage boys as gay or transsexual, and then attempting to “correct” their behavior will be detrimental to their mental and emotional health.

Though this is the first time I’ve heard about any Muslim attempts at “curing” perceived homosexuality, it is definitely not the first of its kind, as we have such camps and programs here in the United States, and unfortunately they also exist in Europe (and I’m sure the rest of the world as well).

Contraceptive Use Among Religious Women

This fascinating little article addresses a new study published by the Guttmacher Institute on contraceptive use amongst religious women.  The Guttmacher study found that there is little to no difference among contraceptive practices between religious and non-religious women.  The article suggests that the results from this study will have implications in United States health care  policy, but do you think that this new data will have any repercussions within our government, especially with regard to our healthcare and insurance?  Though I find the results of the Guttmacher study fascinating, I remain skeptical when it comes to actual positive governmental or social change for women’s sexual and overall physical/mental well-being.


1 2 3