The Daily Telegraph reported last week that a woman vicar had been targetted for a second time in an attempted arson attack. Candles were used on both occasions (and, yes, this is thought to be symbolic). According to the Telegraph, police were already investigating a series of anonymous letters expressing hatred for women priests sent to her church, home and even left in her vestry. DC Simon Stone, of Penzance police, said: “The letters were threatening and all expressed anger at Rev Hobson for being a female priest”. Now, I think that bigotry, intolerance and misogyny have as much to do with this case as religion does – but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the role played by religion. Far from it. Without the changes in the rules regarding women priests and the surrounding debate, would this idiot have felt moved to begin a hate campaign? Would this extremist have had anything to be extreme about? Besides which, religion can itself (and very often does) propagate bigotry, intolerance and misogyny – which you could argue means that religion ultimately bears some responsibility for the preponderance of these views throughout the world.
Misogyny in religion is ancient. After all, the fall of man was brought about by a woman (the old Garden-of-Eden myth) and let’s face it – Saul of Tarsus was no saint when it came to respect for women. Beliefnet.com has a page on Paul’s writings, Wikipedia has a page on Christian Feminsim here and Godless Grrl has a blog post on religion and misogyny.
This case is yet another example of religious extremism. What’s unusual is that this time, it’s the Anglicans. Usually, it’s another religious sect in the news. Like this one. Or this one. Or this one again. Of course, there are others. I’m trying not to leave anyone out, but it’s not always easy to find media responses to religious extremism. I think that’s most of them covered now, though. If you’ve got any fun examples of religious extremism, then why not send them to me at email@example.com?