Beheading and Religious Profiling

American Muslim leaders have been quick to condemn the beheading of a woman by her Muslim husband in Buffalo, saying … Continued

American Muslim leaders have been quick to condemn the beheading of a woman by her Muslim husband in Buffalo, saying it has nothing to do with religion. Is there a connection between religion and domestic violence?

By Aloysious Mowe

In April 2008 Jean Pierre Orlewicz was convicted in Michigan for the murder of Daniel Sorensen. The latter was stabbed, and then beheaded. Harrel Johnson was convicted in October 2008 for the murder of his step-daughter, Erica Green, in Missouri. The 3-year-old child was decapitated with hedge-clippers. In the same month, William Perry was indicted for the beheading murder of Brett Smith in Ohio. In Canada last July, Vince Weiguang Li stabbed and then beheaded a man on a Greyhound bus traveling from Edmonton to Winnipeg. Six months later, Virginia Tech student Haiyang Zhu was accused of decapitating a fellow student, Xin Yang.

In none of these cases was the beheading of the victim blamed on religion or ethnicity as a factor. But wait. Surely the last two instances of murder should set off all kinds of alarms: it must now be a truth universally acknowledged that two men of similar ethnic origins beheading their victims must be in want of an ethnic profiling.

Why did the news pundits not alert us to the custom of beheading as capital punishment in China? The less squeamish reader may even go to a web site, beheadedart.com, to look at photographs of public beheadings in China. Can it be the case that being Chinese predisposes one to beheading one’s victims? Should the immigration authorities counsel Chinese migrants that beheading is not the American or Canadian way?

I hasten to add that I do not have a prurient interest in photographs of execution victims, or murder in general (though I do enjoy murder mysteries, particularly of the locked room in an English country house variety). I happen to be ethnically Chinese myself, and my acquaintance with that beheading website is simply a spin-off from a keen interest in Chinese history and art. Despite being Chinese, however, I have never had the desire to behead anyone, not even the most reactionary of anti-Semitic, Holocaust-denying, Second Vatican Council-abjuring, schismatic bishops.

If Aasiya Hassan had been murdered with a gun, or by some other means other than beheading, her death would have been treated as just another murder. The manner of her dying, however, dredged up all the fears and fantasies about Islam that now pollute our consciousness. Beheading has become part of our cartoon-strip understanding of Islam.

Something very insidious is happening when a case of domestic violence becomes an opportunity for Muslim-baiting. Think a while of the history of racism in this country. A generation of white Americans can still speak of their inclination to cross the street at the sight of a black man approaching. The black man who happens to be the current tenant in the White House has said of his beloved grandmother that she had confessed to her “fear of black men who passed her on the street”. President Obama writes in his autobiography of an incident in which his grandmother was harassed by a black man panhandling at a bus stop. Was it the case that his grandmother’s experience of potential violence at the hands of one black man traumatized her sufficiently to make her fear all black men who were unfamiliar to her?

Any news of violence involving Muslims tends to make us react in a similar manner. The events of 9/11, and other acts of terrorism and violence by people claiming to act in the name of Islam, have caused us to turn equate history with destiny. According to this reasoning, some Muslims have acted violently in the name of their religion; therefore all acts of violence by Muslims are rooted in their religion.

Our conversation about domestic violence should not be about Islam as such. There is nothing intrinsic to Islam that cultivates misogyny and spousal abuse. Rather, we should be asking how patriarchal cultural attitudes seek refuge and justification in all religions.
The 141st Southern Baptist Convention in 1998 declared that a wife “is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ”, while it is the husband’s role to “lead his family”, and love his wife “as Christ loved the church”. The Convention also spoke of the equality of husband and wife “before God”, but this claim reads like a formulaic and ultimately empty add-on. If men are like Christ, and women are like the Church, then they can never be equals. The relationship between Christ and the Church can never be one of equals: we worship Christ as God, the source of all life and salvation. The Pauline analogy of husbands mirroring Christ and wives mirroring the church has within it the seeds of much in theology and church discipline that is sexist and misogynist.

The attitudes that men have towards women are formed very early in their development. We are socialized within our families, in our church communities, in our schools. If Catholics are told that only men can be, for sacramental purposes, in persona Christi, standing in the place of Christ at the Eucharist, are we seriously meant to believe that this does not lay down the germ of an idea, namely that women are inferior to men, even in the order of God’s grace? If all the discernment and decisions that affect women in the Church are made only by celibate men, are we to conclude that this has no effect at all on the attitudes of Catholic men towards women?

I have had the dis-edifying experience of living with a fellow Jesuit priest in Malaysia whose standard explanation for the behavior of any woman who disagreed with him or who had the gumption to stand up to his tyranny was, “She must be having her period.” As far as he was concerned, women who questioned his God-sanctioned authority were simply irrational victims of hormonal rages. Was this attitude fostered by the male clerical culture of the Catholic hierarchy? Absolutely.

The sin of clericalism, however, is a choice, and not an ineluctable consequence of being a Catholic priest. Similarly, Catholic men may read St Paul, or the latest Vatican instruction against women priests, and yet come away unconvinced that socially-conditioned notions from 2 millennia ago have the force of divine will.

It is fortunate that we are able to learn from history rather than just repeat it. The sins of clericalism and sexism in the Catholic Church and other Christian churches are neither inevitable nor inescapable. Christians do not see our history as destiny. It is only prejudice and ignorance that stands in the way of our extending the same courtesy to Muslims.

Muzzammil Hassan was the founder of a Bridges TV, a station that was set up to overcome negative images of Muslims and Islam. It is ironic that he has now been charged with a crime that has provoked outrage (much of it fabricated and opportunistic) about “Muslim” domestic violence and “honor killing”.

Did Islam make him do it? There are elements in the Islamic tradition that seem to encourage a belief in the inferiority of women. Conservative Islam gives less weight to a woman’s legal testimony, gives her a smaller share of any inheritance, and limits her ability to escape an unwanted marriage. How much this strand of Islamic religious thought influenced Muzzammil Hassan’s violent behavior is something that the courts and psychological experts have to decide.

There are millions of Muslims couples, however, whose married lives together, with all the vicissitudes that marriage is prey to, are not marked by domestic violence and do not end in murder. Contrary to the wildest of Orientalist fantasies, beheadings are not the default mode for conflict resolution in Muslim families.

This crime should alert us to the way cultural attitudes take on religious garb to hide the ugly truths of patriarchy and male violence. There is not one line in the Quran or Islamic law that justifies so-called honor killings, and yet certain Muslim communities continue this barbaric tribal practice. Jesus gives women an honored and privileged place in the Gospels, and yet the Jesuit parish in Malaysia has no girls in its altar-servers society because the archdiocese in which it is situated does not allow girls at the altar. This is not religion, but idolatry: instead of an active seeking for the God who questions all our certainties, we put in God’s place our compulsions and our violence.

Religious leaders must take up the challenge to root up from their traditions all vestiges of the subjugation of women to male caprice and violence. We cannot allow our history to become our destiny.

Aloysious Mowe, SJ, is a Woodstock International Visiting Fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University.

By Aloysious Mowe | 
February 25, 2009; 1:32 PM ET


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  • Ellen

    Aloysious,Well said. I hope you are working on the Catholic sexism during your time in DC. People ask me all the time why I remain a Catholic when there is so much sexism and corruption. I say that no religion, as practiced by humans, is perfect. But, in the face of all you say, how long can I hold out? And where would I go next?Thank you,Ellen

  • mmi

    Unfortunately, there is a major difference between the examples cited at the beginning of this article and the beheading of the woman in New York. In those other examples, the killers tried to run from police, hide their actions, cover up evidence and get away with their crime. The guy in New York went to the police and proudly bragged about his atrocity- he felt he was justified in what he did because of his religious and cultural beliefs. The man had a history of abusing his wives, which again, he felt was his right to do based on his religious and cultural beliefs. That is what modern Muslims and Islamic leaders should be condemning- this antiquated belief that women are subservient to men. Until they clearly proclaim that as part of modern Islam, it will never truly be respected by mainstream society. They need to stop pointing fingers and laying blame for perceptions that are fueled by their own past.

  • Mark In Irvine

    Ellen wrote: “But, in the face of all you say, how long can I hold out? And where would I go next?”Read some of Hans Küng’s books – he has some ideas that may assist you in your questioning.

  • ramvt84

    if men loved their wives more than their own lives..as Christ did for the Church…we truly DON’T have equality as the author suggests, now do we. The truth is that the WIFE becomes the more important/loved person in THAT ‘sexist/misogynist’ Christ-based relationship! PLEASE… The Word of God is correct! If more marriages would heed its command…wives would be MORE blessed (with doting/responsive husbands) and husbands would receive what they want/lack most from their wives, namely R-E-S-P-E-C-T. …and the kids…THINK of the kids with parents that love/respect each other as God commands!!

  • kid

    Muslims associated with beheadings? You’re kidding me.

  • mmm1110

    Beheading is barbaric. It is rooted in Islam. There is probably no other religion as vile as Islam. There will be people like myself who will never respect Islam. It is incompatible with Western values. I am against all domestic violence. It should be punished with the full force of the law. However, beheadings do not occur in civilized countries except among Muslims. Muslims can be judged by their actions, and by what is done in the name of Islam. Excusing beheadings is political correctness run amok. I am for profiling. Muslims are the only people who are committing terrorist attacks against Western nations. Muslims should be profiled for terrorism. There is no reason to waste valuable security resources to pretend overwise. Political correctness has got to go. It has been taken to the extreme.

  • Bonnie Russell

    Misogyny isn’t a religion. In fact in this case, it’s state supported. See how the “Selectmen” of Conway, NH; recently voted, at http://www.FamilyLawCourts.comAnd what’s worse was the Buffalo News coverage, where three men covered the so called, “police response. But I do want to thank the Buffalo News for providing reading a wonderful insight into how misogyny is revealed in media. Three men reporting on a husband murdering his wife, including a mention of police knowledge of years of abuse. But reporters questioning the many years of police inaction? Completely ignored. Readers were not reminded it’s not the job of the victim to make the case.Thus, in a male-dominated media, the Buffalo News chose three men to provide readers no insight at all.My focus would have been on the police not doing their job. I would have reminded readers a basis for these murders is from the U.S. Supreme Court 2005 ruling (Castle Rock vs. Gonzales) which stated the police aren’t legally required to enforce restraining orders.*I would have reminded readers police officers have the power to make arrests with or without he victim’s assistance. I would have reminded readers misogyny exists in government, particularly in law enforcement; and true throughout the country.**Not reporting the long, storied history of police inaction – continuing reporting murders, getting the facts correct, yet entirely missing the story, isn’t merely journalistic malpractice, it’s Exhibit A for ensuring the public remains uninformed and ignorant to underlying problem, because media owns a part of the problem. This in part, is why http://www.FamilyLawCourts.com/badcop.html exists.It’s only when media investigates why the police aren’t doing their job, when media fundamentally changes how murders are reported that they’ll slow. And not a moment before. * Ruling is on the top left of this page. ** See *** http://www.FamilyLawCourts.com

  • Isaac Singer

    The United Nations estimates that well over 5000 “honor killings” are conducted each year in the Islamic world. Apparently, the most “popular” method of murder is ritualistic beheading.My personal belief is it was a “domestic violence” situation up until Mrs. Hassan was brutally separated from her head. At that moment, it became an “honor killing” no different than the thousands of other “honor” killings conducted this year.Comparing the 5000 yearly “honor killings” condoned by Arab governments to the relatively few similar murders in the U.S. is appalling and completely ridiculous.The article’s naive writer clearly needs to do more research on this subject.

  • Anonymous

    Very strange logic from Islam bashers!One case of horrible domestic violence is used to characterize an entire religion? So Islam at large needs to apologize for the the action of some Muslims. out of >1 billion muslims, some are bound to be horrific criminals, and they may or may not seek refuge in “cultural and religious” beliefs.Asking Islam to apologize for beheadings is like asking Judaism to apologize for financial crimes of a great deal of its followers! You wanna go there? Financial crimes that ruin the lives of not one but millions of innocent, hardworking people. (Millken, Madoff, etc)

  • Mark In Irvine

    Gross pictures at “beheadedart.com”. Considering that none of the executed had anything approximating a fair trial before imposition of the death penalty, the photos reveal a pretty darned barbarian society. I wonder: is today’s China all that different than it was in the “old days”?

  • Ralph in NJ

    The term “religion” means to bind back. All religions, including the “Big Three”, require their adherents to accept all their beliefs to the exclusion of all others. Religion is an arbitrary and unprovable body of “divinely” received “teachings”. But are simply the delusions of people who have spent way too much time contemplating their naval. If a God created the world, then good, but God save us from Zealots!

  • Chainbo

    MMM1110:U obviously missed the entire point of the article. U seem like someone who hasn’t travelled much. Go to the middle east, meet the locals, they are no different to u and I, they just want to live in peace and have a good life for their kids. Leave Kansas Toto, you’ll realize there is more to the world than christian America and what Sean Hannity thinks.”Muslims can be judged by their actions, and by what is done in the name of Islam.”I do agree that Islam has some serious issues especially in its treatment of women, but labelling all for the actions of a few loons is grossly unfair and counterproductive.

  • whiplash

    This article is such dangerous nonsense. There is nothing worse than people in denial. When even Muslims warn us, over and over again, that we are on a threshold of losing our freedom and equality to a hate religion that is seeping in silently and gradually into our society and which we keep ignoring – the last we need is some idiot journalist who tries to encourage the public to continie being in denial. We already have a major problem with social denial. What we need is for people to wake up and object to being dragged back to the middle ages.

  • david matthews

    Both Islam and Christianity have had a violent history. The spread of Christianity was accompanied by genocide on an unprecedented scale in the Americas and the Pacific Islands. The spread of Islam saw massive genocide against tribals and bushmen in Africa and against Hindus and Buddhists in South and Southeast Asia. Both Muslims and Christians have to be made aware of their violent histories for them to realize that their faith has come at a heavy cost. Perhaps then, we will be more humble and treat others with greater respect.

  • Stadtbear

    >”Muslims can be judged by their actions, and by what is done in the name of Islam.”You are mistaken. No witches were ever burned in the United States, in Salem or anywhere else. They were hanged or drowned when death was their sentence.

  • stadtbear

    mmm1110:>Beheading is barbaric. It is rooted in Islam. There is probably no other religion as vile as Islam. There will be people like myself who will never respect Islam. It is incompatible with Western values.

    Dead is dead. Are we a better society because we use electric chairs and lethal injections? And for your edification, beheading substantially predates Islam.

  • Peter

    perhaps Guillotine also should be included as a beheading tool?

  • Maryann26

    Whiplash– You said it all very well. People are being brainwashed to believe that Islam is all about peace and love. It is anything but. The Muslims have said they intend to wage worldwide jihad and establish Islam all over the world, with everyone living under sharia law. People should not underestimate their intentions. I would certainly take them at their word. War has to be waged against them. The world is very complex. At times, people must fight to preserve democracy, freedom and equality, the very things Islam denies to just about eveyone, but especially women. Everyone should remember September 11, 2001. If that was not a wake-up call that we are in peril, nothing is. MMM1110:U obviously missed the entire point of the article. U seem like someone who hasn’t travelled much. Go to the middle east, meet the locals, they are no different to u and I, they just want to live in peace and have a good life for their kids.Leave Kansas Toto, you’ll realize there is more to the world than christian America and what Sean Hannity thinks.Chainbo—Your reply to MMM was very condescending. I will give you my opinion of your response to MMM. I will not travel to the Middle East. The entire region is unstable, and it is very dangerous for women to travel to Middle East countries alone. I can travel wherever I want in the advanced nations of the world without fear. Not for a second do I believe that the locals are the same as we are. You deliberately put aside the complete and total subjugation of women, which is perfectly acceptable in Muslim countries. Those who tolerate islam will tolerate the intolerable, which I will not do. My family, according to you, would be considered unsophisticated. We did not think that living in the 20th and 21st centuries that we would be taken back a few hundred years in time, dealing with holy wars. We never thought we would be discussing severed heads. Chainbo, I do not listen to right-wingers. I have my own mind and draw my own conclusions. I do not need the media to tell me how to think. Chainbo, I think you are an imbecile, a nitwit, someone who thinks he/she is sophisticated while not even being able to realize that the Muslim world is using the very freedoms of the West to undermine the West. Given your tolerance for the Muslim way of life makes me wonder if you are Muslim.

  • Dennis

    This is another case of the mainstream media bending over backwards to keep from “offending” any Muslim. Does the media behave this way towards Christians? Hardly! Christians are derided as country- bumpkins, who mainly live in the South, are racists and are anti- science. But a Muslim beheads his wife and suddenly it’s not connected to their faith at all…it’s just domestic violence. Even women’s rights groups didn’t come to this poor woman’s defense! And to even dare to mention Southern Baptist’s beliefs about the family, husband & wife, etc. in the same column as if Southern Baptist’s beliefs compare to radical Islam is absurd and even insulting. When is the last time a Christian strapped a home-made bomb to their waist and blew up dozens of innocent bystanders? And please don’t bring up the Crusades. That is ancient history…radical Islam is a fact today! No wonder so many newspapers are going out of business….

  • Anonymous

    Just get these stinking muzlums out of our country.They are nothing but trouble wherever they are.

  • Beebe

    Deep breath. Go to paragraph 11.

  • Anonymous

    My accounting professor from my undergraduate days is a Muslim and he is the only teacher from any level with whom I have maintained a relationship. In the thirty years that I have known him, he has never display any behavior or demeanor that come anywhere near chauvinism or violence. I visited him less than two weeks after 9/11 and he nothing but condemnation for the perpetrators. He tearfully spoke of how he has tried to persuade other Muslims to adopt a tolerant attitude toward others and respect the independence of women. So I can balance that against those who feel entitled to practice misogyny or sectarian violence on the basis of Islam.In the years since then I have had many candid conversations with him and he has disclosed that he has almost no relationship with other Muslims outside of his family except for a small circle of other academics. He said that a close relative in Egypt told him that he would not be welcome if he visited. I suspect that there are other Muslims

  • pike

    fact: muslims behead, it is within their religion. this is who they are

  • SCKershaw

    My accounting professor from my undergraduate days is a Muslim and he is the only teacher from any level with whom I have maintained a relationship. In the thirty years that I have known him, he has never display any behavior or demeanor that come anywhere near chauvinism or violence. I visited him less than two weeks after 9/11 and he nothing but condemnation for the perpetrators. He tearfully spoke of how he has tried to persuade other Muslims to adopt a tolerant attitude toward others and respect the independence of women. So I can balance that against those who feel entitled to practice misogyny or sectarian violence on the basis of Islam.In the years since then I have had many candid conversations with him and he has disclosed that he has almost no relationship with other Muslims outside of his family except for a small circle of other academics. He said that a close relative in Egypt told him that he would not be welcome if he visited. I suspect that there are other Muslims

  • Hardly

    Only animals behead people. It is just coincidence that they happen to always be Muslims that do the beheading.

  • SCKershaw

    My accounting professor from my undergraduate days is a Muslim and he is the only teacher from any level with whom I have maintained a relationship. In the thirty years that I have known him, he has never display any behavior or demeanor that come anywhere near chauvinism or violence. I visited him less than two weeks after 9/11 and he nothing but condemnation for the perpetrators. He tearfully spoke of how he has tried to persuade other Muslims to adopt a tolerant attitude toward others and respect the independence of women. So I can balance that against those who feel entitled to practice misogyny or sectarian violence on the basis of Islam.In the years since then I have had many candid conversations with him and he has disclosed that he has almost no relationship with other Muslims outside of his family except for a small circle of other academics. He said that a close relative in Egypt told him that he would not be welcome if he visited. I suspect that there are other Muslims

  • Chainbo

    Maryanne:Where to start:”I will not travel to the Middle East” “Not for a second do I believe that the locals are the same as we are”Then that is your loss. And yes that is a very unsophisticated simplistic view to hold. Its also interesting that u make blanket statements like that without going there. But then again, idiots like me prefer to actually go and experience cultures before making blanket assertions founded on intolerance.”Those who tolerate islam will tolerate the intolerable”It is radical Islam that is intolerable, we need to draw distinctions here. Sorry if thats a bit sophisticated for you as your world is so clearly black and white.”We did not think that living in the 20th and 21st centuries that we would be taken back a few hundred years in time, dealing with holy wars” I agree wholly. Fanatics on both sides have used that language and thats the problem, there is no point trying to convince someone who believes they are on a mission from god. Its a dealbreaker.(I’m unable) “to realize that the Muslim world is using the very freedoms of the West to undermine the West”The Muslim world is not trying to do that, it is the Islamic fundamentalists. what is your evidence it is the entire Muslim world? Again u tar the whole Muslim world with the actions of a few loons. Your ultrasimplistic, but thats fine.And by the way, if u dont like those countries then lobby your government to STOP GIVING THEM BILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO PROP UP THEIR REGIMES! Stadtbear:I stand corrected. Hanging or drowning is so much more civil than burning.

  • Bios

    I think Mr. Mowe starts off by leveling cases of beheading carried out by people with mental disorders with those executed by people without mental disorders but with religious background. All the cases mentioned in the first paragraph involved people that were mentally ill and probably unable to live normal lives.Cheap christian bashing in the fourth paragraph looks like an intent to gain some nods, a boring and fake attempt.In the 8th paragraph “There is nothing intrinsic to islam that cultivates misogyny and spousal abuse.”Mowe: “…Muzzammil Hassan’s violent behavior is something that the courts and psychological experts have to decide.”Patriarchy and male violence hidden in religious garb? I think Pagan was the one that said: “Secular society teaches us better.”Damn right. Religious leaders should photocopy this phrase and distribute it among their followers.

  • mmm1110

    Reply to Chainbo:You have proven to me that you have your head stuck up your rear end. You are blinded by political correctness. You are petrified to offend Muslims. I do not accept domestic violence. Our society does not. Those who perpetrate domestic violence are prosecuted for the crimes when charges are pressed. Beheading ratches it up to a greater level. Beheadings are part of Muslim culture. What Muslims call “honor” killings cannot be accepted in the United States. Anyone who accepts this is only aiding and abetting them. You can bend over backwards for Muslims, turniphead. I will do no such thing. Anonymous,Based on what you wrote, it would appear that if someone who is Muslim embraces true democratic values, that person is banished by the masses, who believe the radicals. That would make the masses just as radical in their thinking and supportive of those Muslims who carry out barbaric acts. Those who have mentioned violence perpetrated by Christians are going back to the past. We are discussing the implications of Islamic violence on our present and future. Islam cannot co-exist with democracy.

  • phatwa

    Islam is not perfect.BUT we in the US try to become “more perfect”. Its in the constitution. We had slavery; we got rid of it. Where is the attempt to become “more perfect” in Islam. The Koran condones violence against nonbelievers and women. So, where is the ammendment to the Koran now that everyone is more enlightened and Islam is a “religion of peace”.Islam is a primitive belief system that is supremacist and cannot be changed. It’s that simple. No more rationalizing religious violence.

  • Chainbo

    MMM110:Only a totally disingenuous imbecile would take anything I said to be an endorsement of domestic violence.We actually agree on many of the fundamentals, I too do not accept domestic violence. I agree that those who perpetrate domestic violence should be prosecuted and agree that beheading ratches it up to a greater level. i wouldn’t bend over backwards for any perpetrator of such killings, Muslim or otherwise.u obviously need hand puppets to explain the point of what I was trying to say which is that u should be careful not to tar an entire religion or peoples based on the actions of a few psycho’s. That was my point.I could say blanket statements like beheadings are part of Muslim culture (extremeist culture maybe, not moderates), the electric chair is a part of Texan culture, bombing the crap out of small countries is a part of American culture, but that would be simplistic, an over generalization and offesive to many. But it is essentially what u have done.I’m also not as u put it “petrified to offend Muslims”. Islamic fundamentalists are fanatical killers who should be dealt with as I’m sure u agree. Israeli settlers who kill Palestinians cause they think god gave them their land are likewise nutters. I could go on.

  • mmm1110

    Chainbo,Calling you turniphead certainly got you hot under the collar. You were quite juvenile in your response to me earlier. You said the following to me: Leave Kansas Toto, you’ll realize there is more to the world than christian America and what Sean Hannity thinks. Not only do I not live anywhere near Kansas, but that is a bigoted remark about all the people of Kansas. You have insinuated that everyone in Kansas thinks alike and is ignornant of all matters, which is very biased on your part. You automatically assume that I listen to bozos like Sean Hannity, probably Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coutler. You think you are so open-minded. You know nothing about me. Your assumptions show how ignornant you are. I am not from the far right. I am not a practicing Christian. I am an agnostic, practically atheist. I think all religion is irrational and a shackle on the human mind. You can defend Islam, the entire Middle East, all you like. I want no part of them. I do not believe that they embrace true democratic values. I do not believe in how they treat women, which is a huge part of Islamic culture and should be condemned. I still think you are a turniphead. I am sure the people of Kansas would have a lot to say about your bigoted ideas about them.

  • Anonymous

    If in China people are beheaded by the state it is not comparable to personal vengeance beheading. It is a backward judicial system that does that. In Europe we had the guillotine which beheaded people. Thank God we came out of those days.

  • Ibrahim Mahfouz

    Mr. Mowe pontificates thus:”Conservative Islam gives less weight to a woman’s legal testimony, gives her a smaller share of any inheritance, and limits her ability to escape an unwanted marriage.”Moi:”There is not one line in the Quran or Islamic law that justifies so-called honor killings, and yet certain Muslim communities continue this barbaric tribal practices.” “There is nothing intrinsic to Islam that cultivates misogyny and spousal abuse.”

  • Komagane

    Fr. Howe raises an interesting question of gender that literary scholars have played with for generations. Is gender performance? If a priest is peforming the role of Christ, than it is not necessary to enter into Christ’s masculinity. However, if a priest is Christ incarnate, than it is necessary that he bless and sanctify the eucharist.

  • Luis Gutierrez

    This is a jewel. Fr. Mowe is to be congratulated for his courage and for articulating so well the nefarious social impacts of religious sexism.With prayer,Luis T. Gutierrez, Ph.D.

  • Thomas Baum

    ANONYMOUSYou wrote, “One case of horrible domestic violence is used to characterize an entire religion? So Islam at large needs to apologize for the the action of some Muslims.”Also, “Asking Islam to apologize for beheadings is like asking Judaism to apologize for financial crimes of a great deal of its followers!”I would like to ask a question, do the phrases, some Muslims and a great deal of its followers reveal anything or do you think that this is an accurate way of presenting your statements?As I have said many times: God is a searcher of hearts and minds, not of religious affiliations or lack thereof.As I have also said, God is a Trinity and is a Being of Pure Love and Jesus is God-Incarnate not a mere prophet.God looks at the person not at the label.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • diom

    In Saudi Arabia schoolgirls running out of a burning building were shot on site because they didn’t take the time to cover their faces first.Islam is barbarism.Chopping off heads and hands, throwing acid in each others faces, circumcising girls, is prompted by their barbaric religion.The world would be a better place without this religion.

  • Ted

    From the article: There is not one line in the Quran or Islamic law that justifies so-called honor killings, and yet certain Muslim communities continue this barbaric tribal practice. Jesus gives women an honored and privileged place in the Gospels, and yet the Jesuit parish in Malaysia has no girls in its altar-servers society because the archdiocese in which it is situated does not allow girls at the altar.

  • zaney8

    This defense of religion is yet another good example of how “men of God” have kept women in cruel submission and servitude for centuries.

  • Yoshi

    This is a pile of crap: “There is nothing intrinsic to Islam that cultivates misogyny and spousal abuse.” The fact is that there is plenty in Islam that cultivates misogyny. For example, this:From the Koran: — Women are your fields: go, then, into your fields whence you please. (2:223)– Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other… Good women are obedient. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them, forsake them in beds apart, and beat them.” (4:34)The Koran also permits marriage for girls who have not reached puberty. The Koran provides that a woman’s testimony in court is worth only half that of a man. The Koran provides that a woman shall inherit only half the portion that her brother interits.From Muhammad:– Mohammed asked some women, “Isn’t the witness of a woman equal to half that of a man?” The women said, “yes,” He said, “This is because of the deficiency of the woman’s mind. ” Vol. 3:826 — Mohammed to women: “I have not seen any one more deficient in intelligence and religion than you.” Vol. 2:541 — Mohammed said, “I was shown the Hell-fire and that the majority of its– Mohammed married a 9 year old girl.

  • Edward Thomas Haggerty

    We are all a part of God and so we should love everyone and everything.Do not judge anyone except yourself.Try to know who you truly are and love everyone including those who try to harm you.God bless everyone,and I’ll see you in Heaven.

  • Bobadilla

    What an odd article. He strains under a hermeneutic of suspicion to link, despite the lack of any evidence, the traditions of his own faith to violence and oppression of women. He also is straining equally hard to absolve Islam of violence against women despite an undeniably compelling piece of evidence. Don’t get me wrong: I think this case of beheading shouldn’t be used to indict all Muslims or all of Islam. He’s right as far as that goes. But he does not recognize that his radical condescension toward his own tradition will not strengthen his or anyone else’s faith but will only make it more limp and self-loathing. A kind of theological anorexia. Sadly, such is the state of much of academic theology in the United States.

  • Daniel

    The hatred and ignorance that most of you have in your hearts will be a blight for you on the day of judgment when you have to stand before God and account for your sins. Every nasty word, ignorant statement or downright pitiful action that you commit on these forums is being noted by the angels who will record all your nastiness. May God show you the light, forgive you these trasngressions (assuming you actually ask for forgiveness) and bring all of humanity together. Go make penance before the end comes and learn to love your brother/sister before it is too late.

  • Mr. J. Ambrose Little, O.P.

    It is a darn shame when a priest seems to understand his priestly character (and indeed his own Faith) so poorly. Fr. Howe would do better I think to quietly retire to a monastery until he can come to terms with both instead of using his clerical status to mislead people. If anything, shepherds leading the sheep astray would be the real sin of clericalism.St. Paul says in virtually the same breath that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the Church, and gave Himself for it. The mystery of the sacrament of marriage is precisely in how it mirrors the relationship of Christ and the Church. Our Lord did not lord his Divine lordship over us but rather became the servant of all and the sacrifice for all. In doing so, he enables us to become co-heirs of God. This is the relationship that marriage is to mirror–not one of hatred, superiority, and misogyny but of Divine charity. Yeah, that’s terrible, Fr. Howe. Just like those muslims that behead their wives. NOT. Truly, Father, you should know better. Lord have mercy.

  • Denise Starkey Ph.D.

    I applaud Aloysious Mowe’s insightful analysis of the relationship between religion and violence. It is true that religion, whether Christianity or Islam, is not synonymous with domestic violence. It is also true that in the system of patriarchy religion, as well as other systems, including biology or psychology, can be tools for the dissemination of formative patriarchal understandings that privilege the experience and perspectives of men and devalue the experience and perspectives of women. It is important to continue to highlight the ways that particular theological doctrines within religious systems perpetuate these systems, for instance, understandings of sin and sacrifice or the absence of certain voices in the articulation of religious meaning and practice as well as leadership. It is troubling that systems of law (canon or sharia) meant to provide insight, revelation, and guidance for practicing one’s religion with integrity, often become more prominent and lead to the loss of the original spirit and wisdom of their ancient roots and founding. It is a source of hope whenever a churchman joins his voice to those of women and men around the world committed to the core of justice and truth at the heart of Christianity and Islam.

  • Jhimmi

    Attention! To everyone who justifies Islamic violence by mentioning the Crusades, Inquisition, and witch trials – ARE YOU DEFENDING VIOLENCE IN THE NAME OF RELIGION? What the hell is wrong with you?People (including Christians) bravely fought against these forms of religious extremism. They spoke out against it, they came up with reasons why these things were not really mandated, condoned, or permitted by their Christian faith.In your kneek jerk attempt to be tolerant, you’re tolerating intolerance. You are aiding and abetting the fundamentalists who literally interpret the Quran and, more importantly, the other Islamic texts, Sunnah and Hadith. There have been Muslims who criticize the way mainstream Islam worships Mohammed, the way modern Muslims emulate a 7th century Arabian warlord. These people are threatened and often murdered, and you are complicit in this crime by emboldening the fundamentalists.There have been Muslims who advocate a reformation of Islam, by discarding the Hadith and Sunnah, since they are of doubtful authenticity, and re-interpreting what is in the Quran. These Muslims are also threatened and killed, and you apologists are complicit.Use your brain. Imagine those Christian apologists during the Inquisition, or the Salem witch trials. You are performing that same dubious service for Islam today.

  • Thomas Baum

    EDWARD THOMAS HAGGERTYWe are not “part of God”, we are part of God’s creation and we are made in God’s Image but we are not “part of God”.God is God and we are not God nor a “part of God”. There is a difference, a big difference.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Thomas Baum

    DanielGod has a Plan and God’s Plan will come to Fruition.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • Bios

    Denise: “It is true that religion…is not synonymous of domestic violence”No one is saying it’s synonymous, they are saying there is a link between religion and the beheading in this case. The method chosen to kill is very relevant. Beheading is the link itself.Wrong or right interpretation, religion is linked to this beheading.If this linked is ignored it will just happen again. Is PH.D part of your username?

  • Bios

    I mean wrong or right interpretation of the scriptures.

  • Bios

    Daniel,You are just insane. Do you really believe every nasty word, ignorant statement, actions…committed in these forums is recorded by angels to later be used in judgement day???You must be scared ****less.Tell me that you had a bright red mushroom soup for breakfast…otherwise you should seek counseling today.Don’t worry. Be happy.

  • Jake Burkart

    Wow. Give her a raise and get her a book deal. I love the intelligence, consideration, and breadth of insight in this article.

  • Bios

    Jake, regardless of the many things rooted in our DNA, we became civilized and we significantly improved our quality of life. Two thousand years ago people believed in many gods, now most believe in only one and many of us in none.Hilarious Jake, why is a blue woman hunting and gathering in the middle of the forest instead of sending her blue man to do the work?

  • Lynn

    If you are a priest and claiming to speak to the spiritual health of God’s children then it would be better for you in this case to keep silent. The founder of Islam by claiming to be a messenger of Allah spoke to the physical abuse of women as permissible for the crime of disobedience. He also spoke to seeing hell and reported it was filled with mostly women because they are ungrateful. This is a sanctioning of abusing women and woman deserving abuse. Could it be any plainer. If you do not want to be a Shepherd and warn your flock of a wolf in sheep’s clothing please leave you profession. You are not speaking the truth.

  • Duke

    Well the question here would be , why did this man decide to behead his wife as opposed to any other method”?

  • Anonymous

    There are 5,000 killings of women every year in the name of Muslim family honor, many of which go unpunished. This is not a large number in the broad picture, but domestic violence in christian is viewed strictly as a crime. Further, millions upon millions of women in Muslim countries enjoy what can be called second-class citizenship at best, in many cases. Women in most modern-day christian countries enjoy far greater freedom and opportunity. This is not a condemnation of Islam as a religion, but there is no reason to deny that much current-day Islamic culture allows, fosters, and even demands injustice and restriction of liberty. Liberty and justice are terms and values defined by our culture, and we should be cautious in applying them to other cultures, but I view Muslim culture (not all of it, obviously) as one of today’s real problems.

  • G Mir

    The author makes many valuable points that it is very important to raise in the current climate of neo-Orientalism. However, rulings about legal testimony, inheritance and women’s divorce rights need to be placed in their correct context. When understood within the context of other laws, these aspects of Islam can be seen as just and do not oppress women:- inheritance provides a greater share for males in some (not all) cases because they have financial responsibilities that women do not have under Islamic laws/teachings. A woman’s wealth is her own to do with as she pleases, however a man’s wife, children and parents have rights to his wealth as he has the responsibility to provide for them.- a woman is only required to have a supporting witness in relation to financial contracts and not in any case of legal testimony. As men have more responsibility to provide for their families, they are likely to have more experience of finance than women (who have more caring responsiblities). The second woman is described as in the Qur’an as playing a supporting role to the female witness and not reducing the value of her testimony.- A woman can demand a divorce (khulla) under Islamic law and should not be refused this. The practice of family courts may make this difficult in Muslim countries but that is cultural rather than religious practice – another example of how sexism may pervade religious communities as well as those in which religious is not a strong part of identity.

  • Miko

    Aloysious Islam is not a religion but a complete system. It has legislative (Sharia), judicial (Koran), military (hezbollah, Al Qaeda etc…), financial (Muslim banks) and educational branches and also what appears to be a crude attempt at religion though very malformed. read up on what it is you are writing about so you have some real knowledge about the beast you are talking about.

  • Peggy

    Where are the true Society of Jesus members hiding? This man is way off the track comparing Islamic wifely beheadings to Christian roles for men and women in religious community. No wonder Jesus and Mary have tears in their eyes. Has anyone reading this article spotted the love of either the Immaculate Heart of Mary or the Sacred Heart of Jesus? I didn’t. Beware of Satan prowling about the Catholic University campuses of the United States (and elsewhere). Piffel!!

  • Peggy

    Where are the true Society of Jesus members hiding? This man is way off the track comparing Islamic wifely beheadings to Christian roles for men and women in religious community. No wonder Jesus and Mary have tears in their eyes. Has anyone reading this article spotted the love of either the Immaculate Heart of Mary or the Sacred Heart of Jesus? I didn’t. Beware of Satan prowling about the Catholic University campuses of the United States (and elsewhere). Piffel!!

  • Lucius

    This Jesuit lacks intellectual integrity because he holds himself out to be a Catholic priest of the Society of Jesus while denying key tenets of the Faith he is supposed to be professing because it conflicts with “modern”,secularistic notions of equality between men and women. He is one with apostates and agnostics making himself the sole authority in matters religious. He is violating the very promises he made at his ordination and hence has become a wolf in sheep’s clothing. This essay is not about clericalism, or sexism this essay is about infidelity.

  • Jeff Pinyan

    Does the author accept the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture? Does he accept that Paul was not writing his own words (and expressing some hypothetical misogynistic complex) but the words which the Holy Spirit, God Himself, was urging him to write?As soon as you break Scripture (which Jesus Christ says cannot be broken!) and destroy the link between marriage between man and woman as being an image of the mystery of Christ and the Church (cf. Eph 5), then you can destroy the rest of Christian morality and theology.

  • rafe walker

    i miss the good old days when heretics had the courage of their convictions. luther, calvin, waldo and those other men whose courageous legacies live on in the names of the branches of the faith- say whatever one may about whether they were right or wrong, at least they stood _for_ something.these later-day jesuits seem to find happiness remaining ostensibly within the roman catholic faith community- in, however, the way that stomach cancer is part of the body.one is led to wonder what it is that they remain ostensibly attached to the roman church for. the security & comfort of tenure? the peculiar sophomoric pleasure of being naughty while pope after pope gently tut-tuts?they are an irritant; but their hypocrisy, be it ever so clever, guarantees their lack of moral seriousness.perhaps they stay because in their inner hearts they still believe the faith which they as a body so faithfully corrode. but once upon a time they were real men, the jebbies.

  • Steve

    I won’t even ask why author is a Catholic priest: the real question is this: On what possible basis does he claim to be Catholic at all? Indeed, he would not not even make a credible Protestant.

  • Thomas C. Coleman, Jr.

    Fr. Mowe refers to “anti-semitic, Holocaust- denying…schismatic bishops.” Does he know of bishops other than Williamson who have denied the Holocaust? Let him name them. Such recklessness and intellectual dishonesty should be enough to make all readers suspicious of everything Fr. Mowe writes or says.

  • Anonymous

    The hatred and mindless bias of some people against Islam will remain, since they have first declared this and then fit all their debate to this one objective. People like Yoshi who misquoted verses from the Quran highlight just this. Taking parts of verses and delinking them to fit one’s agenda is what I see here. Seems almost every post has ignored all the beheadings by people of other faiths as having nothing to do with their religion, whereas Islam does….a clear agenda specific “justification”. if one is not an expert in reading and understanding the Quran, one will always take parts of it to suit their agenda of hatred.

  • Diego Jose

    Hey padre, quit worrying about what everyone thinks about moslems and start thinking about what valid observations have been made about you. There are three temptations in the world: Bodily/Pleasure, Glory/Acclaim, and Power/Control. Focus on how you betray yourself and do a share of reading from the monastic community. Do not fret Islam. It is not a theological faith, it is a deficient mode of thinking outside the Fullness of Faith which is Christ Jesus. They lack the very essence of what is required for theology and thus are seperated from the Body of Christ. They will wither and die. So, when we observe in the news some behavoir which the masses will stereotype; pray for your muslim brethen that they always seek truth as they do not have the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity to guide them. Their hearts are still of stone and yours is made of flesh. And, insomuch, you are concupicent leaning toward satisfying your corrupt desire to feel good in defending an apparently defensless people. This is the way of the world. It is full of sin. There will always be injustice. Focus on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Those are the keys to eternal salvation. Those are the keys to bringing justice to all, including our dear misguided muslim brethen. Vivat Iesu.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t call Martin Luther a heretic. He’s not.

  • anne

    Shame! How on earth can a Jesuit believe this claptrap and speak this way? Oh, wait a minute…..he’s a Jesuit.

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