Like many other aspects of the post-millennial American society, secular groups and organizations also lack of diversity in regards to race and gender. However minorities aren’t being discriminated against in secular groups and organizations, rather women and people of color have a harder time leaving their religions. According to the Pew Center’s Religious Landscape Study conducted in 2014, 62% of self-identifying agnostics are men and 68% of atheists are men. In fact, in the United States, women outnumber men in every Christian and Protestant religion except Unitarianism1. These facts are surprising considering the new wave of socially conscious people-centered movements, one of the biggest which is the women’s rights movement. So why aren’t there a lot of secular minorities? The most likely cause of this is that the two main factors that lead people to become secular, which are education and money, are more easily available to white men2. Being exposed to an education tends to open up people’s minds, allowing them to make their own decisions, while less educated people tend to take on the viewpoints that they are exposed to.
If people of color and women want to deal the biggest blow to racism, they need to realize that religion, the white man’s most powerful and oldest tool to control them, is indeed working. When you read the bible from the perspective of a powerful, land owning man, it all makes sense. “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property” (New International Version, Exodus 21:20) is one passage that can never be taken out of context to make religion look bad; with this kind of language, it is bad.
Slavery is one of worst crimes humans have ever committed against their own brothers and sisters, and we mostly eliminated it, the physical part of it anyways. While slavery has gone away, the minds of colored people are still chained up. According to studies from the Public Religion Research Institute, blacks tend to more religious than whites and Latinx, with 75% of black Americans identifying as Christian.
Pre-Hispanic peoples already had their own deities, and before the Europeans brought their diseases and devils, they had no concept of Catholicism. Latinx people now make up half Catholic following in North America and Latin America nearly 70% people consider themselves Catholic. It seems strange that brown and black Americans and Latinx Americans can support a religion that was foreign to them at point until it was forced upon them by their invaders, conquerers, rapists, tortures, owners and murderers?
Women have also been forgotten by the great men God and Allah. There’s no place for women in these holy books so we should dismiss them as trash and leave them in the past. We have come along God, What about the lack of a commandment against rape? “The man who raped her is to give the young woman’s father fifty silver shekels, and she will become his wife because he violated her. He cannot divorce her as long as he lives.” (Christian Standard Bible, Deuteronomy 22:29) Great! Just great. So a man can just rape a woman, pay her easily manipulated father in silver, and now he gets to keep her so he can continue to rape her while calling it marriage?
From a woman’s perspective, she gets raped and is then given a monetary value after the rape, before getting a life sentence with her rapist, all of which her and her family are suppose to accept because at least they got paid. And this is the book that is supposed be moral, meant to be our guide for how to live life and treat others, the book that we should base our laws on, the book with all the answer to all our questions? No thanks. You can keep your book.
If women hope to bring down the patriarchy, they should make changing or dismantling religion a priority as the ancient scriptures are in need of serious update to reflect the people of today, especially women who must have slipped God’s mind when he thought that shit up. How does the most powerful being in our universe, our creator, the all-seeing, all-knowing, and most all our loving father forget to protect women? How does he forget to protect half his children?
Fighting for equal rights for all of humanity are only addressing the symptoms of religion, but they are not attacking the roots. Religion is the primary structure upon which government, our law enforcement system, our healthcare, etc., and our education system were built upon. However, these other institutions were built upon a flawed book, and therefore an unstable and morally corrupt foundation. A book which contains racism, sexism, slavery, rape, and genocide would not be tolerated in todays times, but somehow this book is special and its even with its many flaws cannot be, dismantled, rewritten or even challenged because it makes people uncomfortable. Let’s not talk about religion because it makes you uncomfortable? So what. You know what makes me uncomfortable? All the racism, sexism, homophobia, classicism, etc., in our world that stems from an ancient book written by men, for men to control everyone else. It should make you uncomfortable too. Mad, even.
We still want to pretend that religion is untouchable. We can repair our infrastructure, write new laws to reflect the changing times, invent new technology to help improve our lives, but when it comes to religion, we just ignore it, pretending we don’t have a problem and leave it untouched because we are scared to burn in an imaginary place. All of the problems we face as Americans, and ultimately as humans, can trace their roots to the religious code being injected into our institutions and until we attack those pillars, we cannot bring down the white, straight, patriarchy that causes many of our social problems.
- Daniel Cox, Robert P. Jones, PhD, “America’s Changing Religious Identity,” Public Religion Research Institute.
2. “In America, Does More Education Equal Less Religion?” Religion & Public Life, Pew Research Center.