The Tragedy of Violence against Women: Has Religion Played a Part?

August 22, 2016

One of our EEWC-CFT members, Dr. Kendra Weddle, recently wrote about family violence after a terrible tragedy touched the campus community of Texas Wesleyan University where she teaches religious studies.  According to investigative reports, the university’s beloved reference and instruction librarian, Kate Wiant, was shot by her husband, who then committed suicide in the presence of their young daughter.

Professor Weddle, grieving the university’s loss, also spoke of the tragedy in terms of the challenge she faces in teaching a course in New Testament in the fall semester, knowing that the sacred scriptures of religious bodies throughout history have all too often been interpreted and used in ways that support the dominance of men and submission of women— even in extreme cases justifying the abuse of women.  Dr. Weddle writes: “As I think about this challenge in light of Kate’s death, I cannot but be reminded of how easily we have dismissed family violence as something we don’t need to address as long as it doesn’t directly affect us. We seldom talk about the reality that 85% of victims of family violence are women or that according to the American Psychological Association, 4,774,000 women each year experience physical violence by an intimate partner. These statistics should move us to action and yet, we hardly give them a passing thought. “

Read Kendra Weddle’s post , “Kate Wiant and Violence Against Women” from her blog,  Ain’t I a Woman: De/Constructing Biblical Images.

Related Reading (on how the Bible has been misused to justify the abuse of women):

“Abusers Distort Bible to Justify Domestic Violence,” by Quentin P. Kinnison, Ethics Daily.

“Violence against Women and the Role of Religion” by Rev. Dr. Marie Fortune and Rabbi Cindy Enger, from the National Online Resource Center on Violence against Women.

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni (1935-2024) was an independent scholar, writer, and editor, and the author or coauthor of nine books. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992). Letha served as editor of Christian Feminism Today in both its former print edition (EEWC Update) and its website for 19 years until her retirement in December 2013.