Thereafter, we saw our new friend often because she began dancing with — and dating — a man within in our group of dance friends. Apparently, remarrying was her only way back into the good graces of her church elders, especially if she could persuade her new husband to join. And that’s exactly what happened next. The new husband embraced the religion hook, line, and sinker. That surprised my partner and I — we were all aware that he had a purely “secular” background while we knew him.
Shortly after their marriage, the newly Mormon-ized couple invited us to join them at their church for a dance demonstration. We were thrilled — at first. Most unfortunately, along with the invitation came a litany of instructions about what would be appropriate dress for the occasion. Women “should” wear a dress, but not one with a low neckline. Oh, how I do hate the “should” word. Also, nothing above the knee was permitted — and absolutely no pants!
Excuse me — am I a child that I still need to be told how to dress?
Flashback about Respect
The new wife’s comments flashed me back to my prior membership with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Having left the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I recognized instantly that now I was feeling disrespected by the rules of her Mormon religion, which she expected us all to obey. Here I was, not even a Mormon member, yet I was being instructed on what I should wear and how I should conduct myself so as to not insult her recently-re-acquired Mormon “modesty.” As a result, my partner and I declined attending the dance event. Not an easy thing for us, especially because both of us dearly love dancing.
Disrespect by Imposing Religious Values
Another occasion arose — this time to attend a funeral at a mosque. The deceased was Muslim. The funeral announcement was accompanied by a full paragraph of rules. Instructions on how — women in particular — should dress, right down to the requirement for modesty and a head covering. I declined attendance at that event, too.
It is quite one thing for religions to force their values on their own members. But, why do some religious people think it is acceptable to force their beliefs on “outsiders”? Why can’t they recognize how disrespectful their behavior appears to people who are not conditioned to think like them? I’m sorry, I cannot simply check my brain — along with my coat — at your church door.
Respect in Religion — Is it Lacking?
Again I ask, where is the respect in religion? Is it lacking? I recognize disrespectful behavior when I encounter it, now that I have left the Jehovah’s Witnesses — because they carry on similarly to Mormons in many ways. In Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Halls, women are expected to dress and act a certain way in order to be accepted as a member in good standing. Both religions are patriarchal in nature, whereby the only purpose of women is to serve men. As long as you obey the rules of the elders, you are accepted by the group.
But be warned — your heart will become disengaged because of all the rules and lack of respect in religion. Indeed, it is inadequate in many ways.
Respect: Religion vs. Secular
Patriarchal religions have pushed their “religious agenda” too far, infringing on the human rights of others. Quite simply their behavior feels more than a little discourteous. Just because they have a “religious” belief and I have a more “secular” view of life does not mean that my beliefs are less significant than theirs. My beliefs are just as valid as anyone with a religious attachment. Certainly I accept my conscience and intuition to guide me healthily. Here is one of the main reasons I feel disrespected in religion and feel respect is lacking — there is no allowance for any view other than theirs. And they expect all unlike them to conform!
“Religious” belief is not superior in any way over my “secular” belief. Thinking they are better than me demonstrates a lack of respect in religion. Definitely, respect is lacking. I have a belief system that doesn’t include religion — that’s all. It doesn’t mean I’m immoral. I’m the same person I was while attending that old kingdom hall — just more authentic now. Besides, I have a brain! And I even know how to use it!
Religion is Divisive
Religions and all their various dogmas currently serve to divide — rather than unite — humanity. I would like to see unity prevail on planet Earth. I feel that patriarchal religions do not have the answer on how to accomplish such harmony because their attitudes tend to be divisive. To stay silent on the issue of disrespectful behavior by patriarchal religions is to condone and enable disrespectful behavior in religion to continue and even escalate!
Where is the line in the sand to differentiate between respectful behavior and disrespectful behavior? That explanation is too long to explain in a few words.
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