A 21st Century View of Religious Supremacy Vs Women’s Woes Worldwide

By Donald A. Collins | 4 October 2012
Church and State

(Credit: Anton Bielousov / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0)

After incredible scientific advances since Constantine lifted an obscure sect called Christianity to huge secular power with his Edict of Milan in 313, the present Roman Catholic Pope’s 2007 endorsed return to masses spoken in Latin symbolizes that institution’s continued resistance to the adoption of enlightened human progress such as fostering stem cell research or endorsing universal family planning for all women.

Anyone who has watched the two recent evening PBS TV programs based on the book, Half the Sky, viewed the dramatically credible, but heartrending horrors faced by so many women in so many nations around the Earth.

This horrific but totally enlightening prime time television special was based on New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s widely acclaimed book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

The two-part, four-hour broadcast premiered just before the first Presidential debate held in Denver on Wednesday 10/3/2012, an exchange which did not mention this women’s rights issue.

This omission was regrettable because the Republican Party has declared a vicious War On Women, which has a certainty to be vigorously continued by the Mormon and Catholic candidates if elected.

Hopefully, in future debates, mention will be made of birth control as a primary and urgent, but often missing factor in improving all our lives, but particularly those of women who are abused and attacked in so many places around the Earth.

Kristof noted when the project was announced, “This is a project that means the world to Sheryl and me, and represents 20 years of travel, research and writing. We are proud to partner with public television to bring awareness to what we see as the greatest moral challenge of our time,” said Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist and Pulitzer-prize winning author.

“More girls have been killed in the last 50 years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the battles of the twentieth century — we hope Half the Sky will be a call to conscience for anyone who reads the book, watches the documentaries, or engages with the online content and social media,” said Pulitzer-prize winning author Sheryl WuDunn.

Half the Sky’s television and online life will build on the success of the best-selling book, which has been through 37 printings with more than 430,000 copies sold and translated into more than 14 languages. The broadcast event will be accompanied by a groundbreaking game hosted on Facebook and mobile games for India and Africa created in partnership with Games for Change. The U.S. and international broadcast will be amplified by social media, interactive tools, and community engagement on the ground in 100 U.S. markets and selected cities worldwide. Additionally, over 40 educational short films are being created in partnership with more than 54 NGOs for wide-reaching use among targeted communities across the global south.

As for the Pope’s call for Latin masses in 2007, I wonder what the adoption rate of Latin has been in Catholic Services. Bet not too great. Any comments or research findings on this topic would be welcome.

Remember St. Paul’s words, “When I was a child I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as I am known”. (1 Corinthians, 13:11-12)

Indeed, how could he or anyone know then what we know now? So now let’s put away childish beliefs. Now in 2012, when virtually no one speaks Latin, including very likely those who may now intone Latin to their parishioners, its use in communication is like “speaking in tongues”.

There is a taste for that among some, like snake worship in others, but I suspect it is a taste most will not want to acquire. And the deaths from the deadly bites of poisonous snakes by such worshipers are so small compared to the deaths created by the RCC’s anti family campaigns that comparison is ludicrous.

The Vatican of course knows it wants most to reach those people without much education, but its words sound hollow indeed to those of us who are not ignorant children, but are people who have seen images of a universe far beyond St. Paul’s imaginings. Thus the Pope’s suggestion to talk down to his flocks has doubtless not been particularly well received among the educated in his flock, like so many of his church’s other strictures from on high about human behavior.

Question: How different from the ancient primitive practices of human sacrifices is the attitude of this branch of Christian faith when it resists modern contraception in an age of HIV/AIDS and the forced deaths from unwanted pregnancies of millions of women?

The ultimate irony: The huge settlements by the US Catholic Church for the behavior of its priests sharply strikes a strident note when compared to the pope’s repeated restatement of Roman Catholic supremacy. These arrogant assertions may strike even the most devout of his followers as slightly incongruous.

May the Kristof PBS series and its various ways of distribution gain huge circulation and evoke more and more actions which can bring women worldwide into their rightful place as equals among humankind.

Jeffrey Brown talks to Kristof and his wife and “Half the Sky” co-author Sheryl WuDunn about violence and survival in the new documentary based on their book.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC., has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.

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