The Jackson Police Department in Tennessee has perversely celebrated Women’s History Month by asking female police officers to share their “favorite bible verse.”
Six female officers obliged with rather innocuous verses, but most picked verses that give credit to Jesus for their strength. One officer chose a bible verse that I particularly detest, Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” What a putdown of human intelligence and judgment, as well as a recipe for how to become a patsy and a dupe.
Needless to say, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has written a legal complaint letter to the Jackson Police Department about this unconstitutional promotion of religion over its official social media. We asked for the scriptural references to be removed and to refrain from similar promotion of religion in future.
“As Chief of Police, you serve a diverse population that consists of not only Christians, but also minority religious and nonreligious citizens,” writes Anne Nicol Gaylor Legal Fellow Sammi Lawrence to Police Chief Thom Corley. “Promoting Christianity through the department’s official social media suggests that your office prefers Christianity over all other religions and nonreligion.”
While this is certainly a constitutional injury, the insult to Women’s History Month is just as abhorrent. Women’s ability to learn, control our own bodies, take our place in the world and really start to make history began in earnest when women started to rebel against religious orthodoxy.
By the third chapter of the book this Tennessee police department inexplicably instructed women police officers to cite, women have lost their identity, been declared the property of their husbands and are sentenced to bring forth children in “in sorrow.” It wasn’t that great a leap from the Genesis declaration that women are sin-inciting and responsible for the fall of humankind to the inauguration of the witch hunts. One bible verse — Exodus 22:18, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” — resulted in the torture and death of innumerable women for a “crime” that does not exist.
Those female police officers owe nothing to the bible, especially the New Testament most of them quoted from, which repeatedly orders: “Let your women keep silence in all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” (I Timothy 2:11-14, which is among many such passages.) Think this is ancient history? Right now the Southern Baptists, the denomination that broke away purely to support American slavery, is busy ejecting churches where women are pastors, even the famed Saddleback Church formerly directed by Pastor Rick Warren.
The feminist movement, as I trace in my anthology Women Without Superstition, was sparked and nurtured by religious nonconformists and liberals, heretics, freethinking skeptics, rationalists, agnostics and atheists. “In the early days of the woman-suffrage agitation, I saw that the greatest obstacle we had to overcome was the bible. It was hurled at us on every side,” reminisced the agnostic Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who was the first to call for women’s right to vote and edited the famous Woman’s Bible.
The religious war against women’s rights continues unabated around the world today. From the seemingly hopeless situation facing Afghan women to the Christian nationalist war against abortion rights here in the United States, we see what patriarchal religion does to women.
Those Tennessee female police officers owe everything, including their educational and employment rights, not to Jesus but to the largely irreligious founders of the women’s movement who rebelled against the very bible they were asked to quote from.
Read more about what the bible says about women and join FFRF in our work so that this handbook for women’s subjugation is no longer invoked. That will make a great way to truly celebrate Women’s History Month.