Evaluate feminist views on the role and functions of religion in society today.
Feminists see religion as an instrument of patriarchy which means that society is based around male domination; they believe that this is a set of beliefs and practices responsible for women’s subordination. However functionalists believe otherwise and argue that its function is not to oppress women but to keep society stable whilst Marxists believe that religion oppresses the working class not females.
Most religions argue that there is equality between sexes within their religious groups but there is further evidence to question this. In religious organisations they are mainly male dominated. In Orthodox, Catholism and Judaism women are all forbidden to be female priests. In Catholicism Women are seen as “unclean” and “impure” and so should not be given roles of power within the church, this shows women’s inferiority as they cannot have the same roles as men, showing that religion justifies patriarchy by maintaining male dominance and backs up the feminists point that it keeps women in control and stops them from fighting against it. According to Linda Woodhead argues that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is evidence of the Churches deep unease about the emancipation of women generally. Within today’s society women are still not welcome in the Catholic Church to become a priest but some Christian Dominations the privilege for women to become female vicars is present such as in the Protestant branch of Christian faith which can be argued that not all Christian dominations are male dominated. Karen Armstrong (1993) sees women’s exclusion from the priesthood of most religions as evidence of their marginalisation. Another aspect of male patriarchy within religion is the places of worship; some women have to sit behind a screen while the men occupy the central and more scared spaces. In Islam when a woman is menstruating she is not allowed to touch the Qur’an. Jean Holm...
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