Guest post: Women beyond belief

Guest post by Karen L. Garst, who has compiled a collection of essays titled Women Beyond Belief: Discovering Life without Religion, available in print and electronic formats. It has been reviewed by Richard Dawkins, Valerie Tarico, Peter Boghossian, Sikivu Hutchinson and other atheist authors. Visit Dr. Garst’s blog at to pre-order the book.

“But at the end of the day, I kept coming back to one simple realization:
I fundamentally did not believe that one religion (Christianity) could tell
another religion (Hinduism) that it was wrong, that its deities did not exist,
that its moral compass was askew, that the beliefs of its people—while
noble—did not coincide with the lord-and-savior Jesus Christ and his
father-in-heaven God, and therefore could not possibly be valid. To me,
Hinduism embraced beliefs and morals and a lifestyle that was so much
more relatable and beautiful than anything Christianity, even in the Seventh
Day Adventist form, had ever taught me. The thought of discounting all
of it to adhere to a religion that I was essentially born into by way of my
geographic location was completely backward. I couldn’t get over the
notion that devout faith to one religion obliterates the ability to believe
in another, despite the fact that so many millions of Hindus formulated
their realities and structured their (in my opinion much more meritorious)
belief systems based on those religious principles.” Taylor Duty

Taylor Duty was raised in a secular family but attended Seventh Day Adventist Camps as a youth. Her reflection comes after a trip to India with her mother. She is one of 22 authors who wrote an essay about her journey away from religion.

I became incensed when the U. S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby in 2014. This decision said that because of its religious views, Hobby Lobby, a craft store, would not be obligated to follow the dictates of the Affordable Care Act and provide certain forms of birth control to its employees. “Will we never end the fight for women’s reproductive rights?” I wondered. Once again, religion has influenced the laws of our land. Politicians cite their religion in supporting restrictions on abortion, banning funding for Planned Parenthood, and a host of other issues that are against women.

The first leaders of the New Atheism movement that arose after 9/11 were men: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett. They came with backgrounds of science and philosophy. They launched a renewed effort to show people how destructive religion can be and how all Abrahamic religions are based upon an Iron Age mythology, borrowing from other mythologies of the time.

I want to add a focus on women and the role this mythology has played in the culture of many countries to denigrate and subordinate women. Religion is the last cultural barrier to gender equality, and more and more women atheists are speaking out. As we all know, if women leave the churches, they will collapse.

2 Responses to “Guest post: Women beyond belief”