Nicole Monteiro on “Women in Religion”


The article above delves into the role of Chinese women and their involvement with illegal practices called house churches. In China the government only recognizes five official religions, any other practicing religions are illegal. This article follows J and her life within the illegal Christian church house her husband helped start; a church house that grew to one of the largest in the country. Wang Yi, J’s husband, lost his very well respected job and was ostracized for his spoken beliefs about the government. J decided it was time to quit her job soon after Wang Yi decided to become a minister. She took the name shimu, meaning housewife, and felt quite uncomfortable doing so. She enjoyed working and hated telling people she was just a housewife. She wanted to do more. In the Christian religion as well as in China, women are expected to stay at home and care for the house and children and be comfortable having their husband take care of them. This says a lot of the Christian religion.

Women have always been getting the short end of the stick in religion. They are expected to be good wives and pop out babies. They have this burden weighing on them from birth. As a woman, I can say that through life we are more often taught how to attract a future husband and to value marriage more than education and work. Our worth does not equate to how we can please a man and run a family. I feel for J because she wants more but this is her duty now, to stay at home and be the good housewife. Even in China, where she had a great job teaching law, she was accomplished and doing well but since her husband needed her to quit and stay home she had to. All for religion. Christianity is all about free will but it seems more restrictive than anything. Women are often taught in churches to be good moral women. We have to look proper and prim and act a certain way that’s expected of us. Christianity oppresses women, it has in the past anyway. Geertz explains religion as a general order of existence. Women’s general order is being a servant to men within religion. I will conclude with this excerpt from the article itself.

“Religion, taken as Clifford Geertz most famously defined, is a system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive and long-lasting moods and motivations by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic. However, as Talal Asad teaches us, religion is also constantly lived and contested as a dynamism, as practice, language, and sensibility set in social relationships.”


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