In his letter titled “Blame goes to Feinstein,” Gesualdo Schneider claims that “equal dignity of all humans is to be found in the Judeo-Christian understanding” … “because we are all made in the image of God.” He also believes that “it is only in societies that have a basis in Judeo-Christian philosophy that women have progressed in status.”

He promotes his religious beliefs to the point where he states them as facts. To say that we are all made in the image of God is highly disputable. I wish that he or someone would prove or provide compelling evidence that God exists and that the Bible is the Word of God. (Cosmologists and theoretical physicists have shown how the universe(s) could have come into existence without God.) Then, his beliefs would have some substance and might actually be believable.

Mr. Schneider told me directly that he is a devout Roman Catholic. He, therefore, should accept that what is written in the Old Testament (OT) and the New Testament (NT) is the Word of God. In the OT, Moses affirmed that a woman was created from one of Adam’s ribs only because he couldn’t find a suitable partner/mate in the animals that God showed him (Genesis 2:18-22). In Exodus 20:17, Moses indicated that a woman is considered property because a man “shalt not covet (his) neighbor’s wife, … nor any thing that is (his) neighbor’s.”

There are a number of passages in the NT that stipulate how a woman is supposed to act and live. In 1 Corinthians 11:3, 8-9, Paul declared that “the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man.” “For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman, but, the woman for the man.” That is, she is to be subservient to her husband as she would “unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22-24). Consequently, she is considered to be an inferior being, termed a “weaker vessel” in 1 Peter 3:7. In 1 Timothy 2:11-12, Paul preached that a woman is not allowed to teach nor “usurp authority over the man.” A woman is to remain silent in church. If she has any questions, she should ask her husband at home (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).

As a result of these passages, husbands were/are free to treat their wives in a second-class manner. There are many Christian men who still believe and use these teachings to justify their physical and sexual abuse of women. It’s not surprising that the most abuse of women occurs in states where conservative Christianity is dominant. No equal dignity for women there.

Freethinkers, like Thomas Paine, Jeremy Bentham (a humanist), Mary Wolstonecraft, Mary Anne Evans (aka George Eliot) and Harriet Law (an atheist), were some who challenged the traditional position of the Catholic Church that women were/are subordinate to men. It wasn’t until the late-19th and early-20th centuries that women, through the Suffragette Movement, were able to assert some rights, including their right to vote in 1920.

However, the Catholic hierarchy was against this new-found freedom. In 1930, Pope Pius XI condemned women’s liberation, arguing that it would change a woman’s true identity as a mother and homemaker. Today, the Catholic Church does support a woman’s access to education and political participation, apparently in conflict with the Biblical passages cited above. To this day within the Vatican, female employees are still denied the right to vote.

John Klimenok Jr. is a Plainfield resident.

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