Tuesday, December 01, 2009

On Religious Freedom, Deeper

You may have read about the Swiss referendum which banned any further construction of minarets. Mosques can be built but not those tall towers attached to them. Although this particular clash may not be about religion at all, I can't help noticing that the god on the two sides is presumably the same one, given that both Islam and Christianity are Abrahamic religions. Together with Judaism they worship a male god who created everything! All without women!

No wonder then that women have traditionally been sequestered in the house of this guy god. They still sometimes are, or are not allowed in at all or must sit behind a curtain. The people speaking in that house are still overwhelmingly men.

I'm fully aware of the religious freedom (or lack of it) aspect of the minaret referendum and its other consequences. But it's hard not to see the deeper lack of religious freedom in the choices many women are offered, simply by accident of birth. We tend not to get upset about a church which worships the father and the son. And yes, I'm also fully aware of a more sophisticated interpretation of the divine as beyond our puny social markers.

Still, I have a deep visceral desire to at least once visit a house of worship for a goddess. I imagine it as a circular building of great beauty, with bright mosaics and flowing water and a silence which enfolds. A safe place and one which is respected by all.

I can see it in my mind but doubt that I will ever see it in reality.