Women v. Religion by Karen L. Garst, Ph.D.

UnknownWomen v. Religion: The Case Against Faith – and For Freedom

edited by Karen L. Garst, Ph.D.

I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance that left me astounded, angry and disturbed.  I knew this acquaintance is a pretty serious Christian, and she knew that I am atheist – but even so, the conversation was not something I saw coming.  It began with, “Did you hear about so-and-so who has worked at the high school being arrested for having a sexual relationship with a student?” and led to her expressing her belief that the existence of porn is to blame because it perverts people, which led to her sharing various other strongly held beliefs, such as the fact that men are genetically designed to be the providers (“So there’s a provider gene, then?” I asked), that the pay gap between men and women is a myth cooked up by liberals, that homosexuality and transgenderism are mental illnesses that we should be helping to cure instead of encouraging and enabling, that women do not belong in combat (she herself was in the Navy), nor do they belong in high-level positions in the workforce because they’re just going to go have babies anyway (as God intended), that without God there is no morality (“But look at me!  I don’t have god and I’m extremely moral and ethical!” I said), and the list went on.  I asked her what the basis is for all of this “knowledge” she claims.  She cited some ancient text of stories passed down orally by illiterate shepherds a few thousand years ago.  You know, the Bible.

What pissed me off about what she expressed to me – besides the utter ignorant prejudice – was how her views, which are undoubtedly held by many, many people, hurt women and girls.  It’s not a simple matter of different people hold different beliefs and to each her own – these are the beliefs that drive the public policies that continue to harm and oppress women.  These are the people whose willfully ignorant, self-righteous views will continue to harm my daughters – and their own daughters.

This stands out as a perfect example of how bad religion is for women.


Karen Garst’s Women v. Religion: The Case Against Faith – and For Freedom is an excellent follow-up to her Women Beyond Belief.  Like Women Beyond Belief, Women v. Religion is a collection of essays by women from various religious backgrounds, from all walks of life, but it goes beyond just sharing personal experiences of leaving religion and delves deeply into the whys and hows of the harm religion and religious faith do to women and girls, mainly by perpetuating the notion that males are preordained by God to be dominant over females.  I read Women v. Religion with highlighter in hand, and when I was done, half the book was pink.  I certainly didn’t need convincing, though.  The fact is, religious faith and real feminism cannot peacefully coexist.

Garst’s books should be required reading for anyone who cares about women, and certainly for anyone raising daughters.

Women Beyond Belief by Karen Garst

41tlozs0el-_sx331_bo1204203200_Women Beyond Belief

Edited by Karen Garst

I am so happy that this book has come on the literary scene – particularly the religious and feminist literary scenes.  There are a plethora of books written on the subject of religion, the vast majority of which have been authored by men (which is just another symptom of the patriarchal society we continue to live in).

A collection of essays written by an array of women from different walks of life, these pages tell the deeply personal stories of how religion has impacted the lives of these people, both as individuals and specifically as women.  Since the time that men put pen to parchment claiming that Eve was created for Adam and that she was the source of original sin, religion has been used to repress and subjugate women and girls.  Actually, since even before that time; most religions that existed before Christianity also viewed and treated females as wicked, as the property of men, as less than men.  And because religion is so deeply ingrained in humankind, perceptions, and treatment of women and girls continue to be based on ancient and deeply disturbing beliefs stemming from superstition and a quest for power and control.

These stories also tell how rejecting religion and superstitious beliefs has impacted the lives of these women: in some ways painful, but ultimately liberating.

I related to every story in this book in some way, and a few moved me more than others.  This isn’t a book meant to persuade anyone; rather, it offers empathy to those of us who have walked the path of rejecting religion and supernatural belief, and a sense of perspective to anyone who cares how religion – both practicing and rejecting – impacts women, and why so many people (women in particular) end up denouncing religious belief.  That said, there are definitely some very well-articulated essays based on obvious exhaustive study contained in this book that should give any believer pause.

I am grateful that there are more and more female atheist voices telling their stories and sharing their views.  I highly recommend this book to non-believers and believers alike.

Grace Without God by Katherine Ozment

u34+1F!EVWH7ngw7NLVXIcKIKW2pmYA+Gl!w8rbMsYH!BRIAG5OUet9tcq9F2XjffXkZsjELHH1dotzfe59Az2vNK7LiZyZN+sBWsKtMX1WWsW1OYzkgsRAdZgmVYczuGrace Without God

by Katherine Ozment

I was asked to read and review this book by TLC Book Tours.tlc-logo-resized

The book’s genesis, apparently, was a particular night some years ago during which the author and her young son witnessed a religious procession through their neighborhood. Her son asked her what the people walking up the street holding candles were doing, and she explained to him that it was a religious ritual.

Read more here.

Why There Is No God by Armin Navabi

whythereisnogod Why There Is No God: Simple Responses to 20 Common Arguments for the Existence of God

by Armin Navabi

This short book (it can easily be read in a day) takes twenty of the most common arguments believers make for the existence of God and deconstructs each one in a concise, matter-of-fact way – without condescension or snarkiness.

The author, a former Muslim who attempted suicide as an adolescent in order to guarantee his place in Heaven in accordance with the religion into which he was indoctrinated, and the founder of Atheist Republic, a growing online community of non-believers, explains in the introduction that this book is for non-believers and believers alike: for non-believers, it provides a concise framework with which to work when confronted with the most common arguments made by the believers in their lives (most of which non-believers already understand but may not have been able to articulate); and for believers who are interested, insight into where, exactly, the non-believers in their lives are coming from.  Why don’t they believe?  This is why.

I really loved this book, and wish all of my friends, believers and non-believers alike, would read it.  Also, as a self-published book, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the writing and the editing; there are a handful of minor typos, but overall it’s extremely well written and well presented.  Highly recommend.

Growing Up Godless: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Without Religion by Deborah Mitchell

Unknown Growing Up Godless: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Without Religion
by Deborah Mitchell

My initial introduction to Deborah Mitchell came a little over a year ago by way of an article she wrote for CNN iReports entitled Why I Raise My Kids Without God.  The title of the article alone spoke to me; I was curious to see what another parent had to say on a subject that has been fact in our house for years.  As it turned out, Debbie’s article went viral and, I believe, remains the most viewed and shared iReports article on CNN of all time.  I was so impressed by her article, and appreciated and agreed so much with what she wrote that I did a little digging and found that she also has a blog, Raising Kids Without Religion, of which I’ve become a loyal reader over the last year.  I’ve also had the privilege of corresponding with Debbie privately and getting to know her on a personal level.  Imagine my surprise when she contacted me and asked if I would be interested in making a contribution to her forthcoming book that would be coming out in the spring of 2014!

Growing Up Godless is that book . . .

Read the rest of my review, and enter to win a free copy of Growing Up Godless here.

The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and For Humanism by A.C. Grayling

the_god_argument The God Argument: The Case against Religion and for Humanism
by A.C. Grayling

I was first introduced to A.C. Grayling when I picked up Life, Sex and Ideas: The Good Life Without God a couple of years ago.  Reading that book was really my first encounter with philosophy, and I have since then read many articles and essays by Grayling.

In The God Argument, Grayling first explores religion and notions of god(s) – how and where they originated, why they persist, and what makes them illogical, irrational, and unable to stand up to dispassionate scrutiny.

“There is a true, important, though harsh-sounding point to be made about the origins of the major religions influential in today’s world: that they derive ultimately from the superstitions of illiterate herdsmen living several thousand years ago.  That is a mere fact, not a rhetorical flourish.”


“To put matters at their simplest, the major reason for the continuance of religious belief in a world which might otherwise have long moved beyond it, is indoctrination of children before they reach the age of reason, together with all or some combination of social pressure to conform, social reinforcement of religious institutions and traditions, emotion, and (it has to be said) ignorance – of science, of psychology, of history in general, and of the history and actual doctrines of the religions themselves.”

He addresses the most common arguments for religion and the existence of a god made by believers, and I found myself nodding my head over and over, pleased to discover that many of the conclusions and responses to these arguments I’ve come up with on my own are basic, uneloquent versions of what philosophers, scholars and scientists have concluded – which isn’t lauding my intellect by any means, but rather a statement of how clear it all seems even to the relatively unschooled when emotion is laid aside.

The second half of The God Argument is a persuasive argument in favor of humanism –

“In essence, humanism is the ethical outlook that says each individual is responsible for choosing his or her values and goals and working towards the latter in light of the former, and is equally responsible for living considerately towards others, with a special view to establishing good relationships at the heart of life, because all good lives are premised on such.  Humanism recognizes the commonalities and, at the same time, wide differences that exist in human nature and capacities, and therefore respects the rights that the former tells us all must have, and the need for space and tolerance that the latter tells us each must have.

“Humanism is above all about living thoughtfully and intelligently, about rising to the demand to be informed, alert and responsive, about being able to make a sound case for a choice of values and goals, and about integrity in living according to the former and determination in seeking to achieve the latter.”

Man, I love this stuff.  I mean, it sounds like if we as a human race could actually achieve that, we would live in something pretty near to utopia, no?  And that’s the problem with religion: overall, it’s intolerant and oppressive and dictatorial.

I really enjoy Grayling’s writing.  The only downside of a book like this is that it’s largely preaching to the choir; it seems to me unlikely that a person of religious conviction would read something like this.

I recommend this to anyone who questions things, and anyone who doesn’t.