Gender and religion revision notes

Specifically for AQA A2 Unit 3 Sociology students, but may be helpful to other students. It includes:

  • Images of God in different religions (Davie 1994)
  • Patriarchal elements of religion (Covering Judaism, Christianity, Islam & Buddhism)
  • Sexuality and religion (Bird 1999 and Turner 1983)
  • Women in religious organisations (Simon and Nadell 1995)
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A2 Sociology Beliefs in Society
Gender & Religion
Images of God in different religions
Davie (1994)
Women see God more as a god of love, comfort and forgiveness
Men see God more as a god of power and control
Patriarchal elements of religion
Orthodox Jewish men: "Blessed art thou O lord that I was not born a
Christianity: "Wives be subject to your husbands"
Old Testament: Prophets such as Isaiah and Moses are male
New Testament: All the apostles are men
Islam: Koran contends that "men are in charge of women"
Buddhism: Feminine is mainly associated with the secular, powerless,
profane and imperfect
Sexuality and religion
Women's bodies and sexuality are felt to be dangerous by many religions
Because women menstruate and give birth, they are considered to have a
greater capacity to `pollute' religious rituals
Women's presence may also distract men from their more important roles
involving worship
Bird (1999)
Bird points out that sexuality is an important issue in many religions
Roman Catholic Priests are expected to be celibate
Some interpretations of Christianity and Islam are opposed to
Turner (1983)
Suggests that a disciplinary role with respect to sexuality is central to
Widespread importance is given to self discipline and repression of
In order to carry out priestly duties properly, there needs to be a degree of
policing the body
The presence of a woman makes this more difficult!
Women in religious organisations
Chris Cartwright

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A2 Sociology Beliefs in Society
Islamic groups, Orthodox Jews and the Roman Catholic Church continue
to exclude women from the religious hierarchy
Women ministers have long been accepted in some sects and
The Church of England has ordained women since 1992
Anglican churches in Hong Kong, USA, Canada and New Zealand started
to ordain women during the 1970s
Simon and Nadell (1995)
Conducted indepth interviews with 32 female rabbis and 27 female
Protestant clergy
They concluded that women conduct themselves in totally different ways…read more


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