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Monday, March 4, 2013

Women bear brunt of Catholicism, Protestantism, fundamentalism

Toxic potion

Thoughts on Rome-to-America religious toxicity ─ Elfriede Harth
Excerpting, editing by Carolyn Bennett

Not Human Rights in Roman Catholic monarchy

“…Since the institutional Church lost secular political power and Canon law is no longer valid except within the Church, the Pope has invoked Human Rights as a means to defend certain specific moral rules and impose them on the whole society,” Elfriede Harth writes in “Human rights in the Roman Catholic Church and reconciliation.”

“This is questionable,” she says, “because the genuine sense of Human Rights is the defense of the individual from the oppression of the State.

The Pope’s stance would lobby the state to enact laws that feel oppressive to some segments of society. This is particularly visible with legislation on divorce, homosexuality, contraception and abortion where individual rights are bluntly denied in the name of Human Rights; and a relentless effort is made to impose on a whole society the particular philosophical or ethical conception of a small segment of it.…

“We have a long way to go before we can claim a Church of Human Rights. …”

Reconciliation imperative

Inordinate, Unchecked
Established Church
“…[R]econciliation means building up a Church on the basis of Human Rights. Our Church has to reconcile itself as an institution with the religion it stands for. And this religion is rooted in Human Rights. That means that this Church has to be built on the principles of Liberty, Equality and Solidarity.

“…The democratic Church we need is not a community that its members visit like a museum or a supermarket, where they satisfy themselves as consumers with certain religious needs. It is a place where each person in her or his specificity and diversity feels called and wanted and needed; where all voices are welcomed and heard, where democratic forms of leadership and authority unfold.

“Of course, it will be quite different from the obsolete monarchic model that we know.…

I dream of the day when I can go to visit the Vatican palaces as I now go for a walk to the Castle of Versailles. It would certainly be a magnificent tourist attraction but its form of governance would be a thing of the past.

That will be the day when we are true to our call to be a church of Human Rights and Reconciliation.

U.S. Fundamentalism (another toxic formula)
Elfriede Harth’s 2004 paper “America’s Mission of Saving the World from Satan: Christian Fundamentalism in the USA” focused on an active fundamentalism she called “the more spectacular one.”

rotestants forged a concept of ‘fundamentalism’ in the early nineteenth century wherein they considered themselves “to be returning to the roots of a Christian faith believed to have been lost to view.”

“Society and ‘the world’ were considered corrupt, evil and godless: a threat to salvation. In an extreme way, the Bible became the center of life ─ and was taken literally,” Harth writes.

There are presently two main types of active Christian fundamentalists in the United States: televangelists and Christian militias.

merica’s contemporary Christian fundamentalists “aim for de-institutionalization. They have a critical attitude to all forms of ‘establishment’ which they consider corrupt and infected by the forces of evil…..

Fundamentalists have a profound mistrust of, even an aversion to traditional churches and religious denominations, the State, the United Nations system, the Federal Reserve system, the CIA, the FBI, the military-industrial complex, universities, traditional media, and so on.

U.S. fundamentalists perceive reality in Manichean terms [religious/philosophical dualism], conceptualizing events in terms of ‘good and evil’; and have a preference for conspiracy theories.

They interpret structural realities as the result of demoniac forces conspiring to combat ‘Christian America’ and dominate the world.

Manichean worldviews [holding to religious or philosophical dualism: “good v. evil”] have a negative impact on women since they shape gender relations according to a system of irreconcilable antagonisms, the female one being always negative, valueless and deficient.

American fundamentalists are profoundly convinced that they have been chosen to accomplish a specific historical mission, and that their nation, America, has a special role to play in ‘God’s’ salvation plan.

They are super-patriots and see themselves as incarnating the ‘real’ American identity. … [Woman’s] only or at least main function is the responsibility to reproduce [their kind], both biologically and ideologically.

Supremacist rally
Their “kind” v. “deviants”

 “… Christian fundamentalists in the USA are anti-intellectual and anti-rationalist. An emotional and personal experience of God is at the core of their religiosity. While mostly keen on using modern technology, they reject skepticism, relativism, and critical questioning of all views ─ including their own.

“Fundamentalists have a profoundly patriarchal worldview. They believe in the ‘One,’ the only legitimate model for human beings; and this ‘One’ is white, male, adult, heterosexual, healthy, in the prime of life; has a good job, is economically successful and Protestant.

“All other forms of the human condition are considered deviations from the One. Those who do not meet the criteria are, by definition, inferior beings; and their inferiority increases the fewer of the criteria they meet. Racism, sexism and anti-feminism are consequently further characteristics of U.S. Christian fundamentalism.

1995 Oklahoma City  bombing
Tribalism, isolationism, paranoia, violence
‘Christian identity’ as expression of violent Christian fundamentalism

“With the terrorist attack on a Federal building in Oklahoma City, [the United States] and the world discovered, to their great perplexity, the existence of a fundamentalist Christian sect called ‘Christian Identity.’ It has some 50,000 members, most of whom are also members of the militia that carried out the attack.”

[Note: On April 19, 1995, an American detonated a bomb in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, that left 168 people dead, more than 500 wounded and the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building greatly damaged.]

“This sect is based on a pre-millenarian and conspiratorial worldview and believes that the Anglo-Saxon race is the descendant of the lost tribes of Israel and their destiny is to play a central role in ‘God’s’ salvation plan,” Elfriede Harth writes.

Britannica note: Messianic and millenarian myths: The hope of a new world surges up from time to time in many civilizations. These cults and movements center on prophetic leaders, often emphasize the return of the dead at the renewal to come, and are convinced of a catastrophic end of the present world. In many cases, the culture hero is expected to return and lead believers in battle against the evil forces.

“Under the influence of racial theories of the 1930s time, what started as ‘Anglo-Israel-ism’ mutated into ‘Christian Identity,’ a sect whose traits included openly expressed and profound anti-Semitism and anti-Black racism. The militias are composed of men thirty to fifty years of age who feel themselves threatened by a monolithic State.

“They tend to isolate themselves from the rest of the world and, in forms of survival training, prepare themselves for the day when Christ will return and they will have to fight ‘evil.’”

Members tend toward paranoia. Weapons are hoarded. Violence is glorified.

The existence of anachronistic monarchies, religions coalitions and paranoid militias, Elfriede Harth says, works to “undermine the authority of a democratic system which operates through public discourse and finding consensus”; and in this toxic mix, “women are the first to pay the price.”

Sources and notes

Catholics for Choice European Representative Elfriede Harth

“Human rights in the Roman Catholic Church and reconciliation” Address given at the International Federation of Married Catholic Priests held July 28-Aug. 1, 1999 by Elfriede Harth, in National Catholic Reporter, August 13, 1999, http://www.natcath.org/NCR_Online/documents/Harth.htm


“America’s Mission of Saving the World from Satan: Christian Fundamentalism in the USA,” by Elfriede Harth, Warning Signs of Fundamentalism, WLUML-WSF-1h-final.indd Sec6:37 09/12/2004 11:08:04, http://www.wluml.org/sites/wluml.org/files/import/english/pubs/pdf/wsf/04.pdf

See also:
Benedict XVI Era Ends - Can Catholic Church Embrace Change?
Guest: Elfriede Harth, Catholics for Choice

The Agenda, February 26, 2013, In this edition: The Catholic church looks to the future, Switzerland votes on regulating executive bonuses and women fight for rights in Arab spring countries. http://www.dw.de/agenda-talk-show-2013-02-26/e-16580694-9798


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