Sunday, November 28, 2010

Polygamy: Symptom of Religious Conditioning

I am a 56-year-old woman who has recently enrolled in several university courses with the intention of receiving a couple of certificates and a degree. Why now at this stage of life? It has everything to do with the way I was raised. I grew up under the thumb of a religious patriarch who believed education for women was not necessary because “Armageddon is coming any day and you don’t need it.” Because of my conditioning it took me decades to leave the religious patriarchy. As a result of my background, I read with great interest the articles about polygamy in Bountiful, BC.

Religious groups downplay the patriarchy and call it “spiritual beliefs,” conditioning the public in general think everybody is allowed freedom of religion, yet there is no freedom for women or children in these religious patriarchies. It is patriarchal law: rule by men who dis-empower women and children in the name of god. (How the men are affected is another sad story.) Religious patriarchs use the 1982 Constitution to lobby for more freedoms under the umbrella of religious freedom. Unfortunately, any freedom gained for the patriarchs is used to further brainwash, condition and abuse women and children. They throw around the words “free will” — but there is no free will in a religious patriarchy. Any actions of members are usually “conditioned response.”

One article stated “what Robert Wickett [defense lawyer] said his clients…are not prepared to do is debate their belief in patriarchal control.” Yet, “belief in patriarchal control” is where the real issue lies! FLDS lawyers are trying to divert attention away from the issue of religious patriarchy entirely, and focus on a “symptom” rather than the cause, which is “religious patriarchal control” or conditioning of its members. Much of the general population and readership would not catch this, but having been a member of a religious patriarchy, I understand the deeper meaning. Here is how a religious patriarchy operates:
  • It is a pyramidal arrangement with all the power being at the top.
  • Members are isolated from wider social contact, especially for women and children. A rural or communal way of life more easily enables the isolation of its vulnerable members.
  • Girls are conditioned from birth to accept patriarchal domination as a desired way of life: first by their father, then by their husband. A healthy belief system will produce self-directed members, whereas indoctrination will produce co-dependence in its members.
  • Fear is deeply instilled, females depend on men for survival. Dissension is punished. Self-confidence and self-expression are suppressed.
  • Religious patriarchies are usually headed by a charismatic leader who claims special knowledge and mystical communication.
The Vancouver Sun November 25, 2010 article states, “ ‘Decriminalization,’ Macintosh argued, ‘would erase any
stigma…’ ”…? I believe decriminalization of polygamy would enable even more sexual exploitation, abuse and incest. Religiously conditioned women and children do not normally report sexual exploitation, abuse and incest crimes. Even within the community, members won't discuss abuse, as the victims learn early that the abuse would not be validated, even by the mothers — or women in general. Abuse is just a way of life in patriarchal society. Women and children are property which can be bought and sold.

Further, the same article states, “[Most] Canadians have never had anything to do with polygamy.” It is not something most people would choose for themselves, let’s face it. But again, remember that women in religious patriarchies have little choice. Children even less. And that is where constitutional protection needs to kick in. There is no need to protect the majority of people because they are healthy and can make healthy choices for themselves. People in general have that option of free will. Members in religious patriarchies do not.

To compare patriarchal men with multiple spouses (dis-empowered women and girls) with homosexuals (independent adults with free-will) is twisted reasoning:
  • Women and children in religious patriarchies do not have free will to choose. They are conditioned from birth to accept, rather than choose, polygamy. On the other hand, homosexuals are free-will adults who choose privately what fits their lifestyle, personally.
  • A religious patriarch’s power is derived from abusing women and children who have no choice but to consent. On the other hand, the majority of homosexuals are adults self-empowered to make their own choices.
Daphne Bramham's article at asked some pertinent questions, “Is polygamy by any name really what Canadians have in mind when they think about diversity?” I say no, it is an abusive exploitation of conditioned women and children in religious patriarchies.

“Is there a good kind of polygamy and a bad one?” The light must shine on the issue of religious patriarchy. An examination of the one “symptom” of polygamy entirely skirts the issue of religious patriarchy.

“Is polygamy in any form something that Canadians believe ought to be constitutionally protected?” The law may very well be badly written. However, polygamy is a symptom of a larger societal ill: conditioning within a religious patriarchy. It would be a dangerous mistake to give patriarchs still more power to control. With patriarchal religion, where more freedom is the cry, enslavement of women and children is the end result.

I believe it is important for the public to know how religious patriarchy affects women and children. People raised in religious patriarchies have a difficult time understanding reality or fitting in anywhere in the real world.

There is a great need for action in society to affirm all adults’ rights to choose a healthy belief system. Even if the belief system is non-religious, it is still valid. Patriarchs would have us believe religion is the only valid system of belief — because religion provides the patriarch with a power source. Unfortunately, patriarchs — more often than not — will abuse their power.

There exists a great need to protect innocent women and children in religious patriarchies. Help must be available for those members who see the need to escape. Ex-members must re-learn everything about life in the real world. Members need a safe place to go upon leaving.

There is the need for supports for those who are trapped inside religious patriarchies.

People in general need to be educated about what actually goes on in religious patriarchies and not so easily jump on the bandwagon of the supposed need for more “freedom of religion” — because some religions are just plain sick.

I trust that journalists and people who know through life experiences about patriarchal religious issues will keep writing about this very important subject. It is imperative that people know the bigger picture about conditioning within patriarchal religions. Articles and essays will educate the public about things of which they may appear to have little knowledge.

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