Radical Feminism and Abortion Rights: A Brief Summary and Critique -- By: J. Alan Branch
JBMW 9:2 (Fall 2004) p. 19
Radical Feminism and Abortion Rights: A Brief Summary and Critique
Vice President for Student Development, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Kansas City, Missouri
Several years ago while serving as a pastor in Raleigh, NC, I saw an unforgettable bumper sticker. Emblazoned in white letters on a purple background was the following message: “Forgive me for not being in church this Sunday. I was too busy practicing witchcraft and becoming a lesbian.” This intentionally provocative statement illustrates a profound fact about the worldview of radical feminists—their counter-Christian morality is strongly rooted in paganism, an important point for us to understand lest we mistakenly assume all radical feminists are irreligious. In reality, many if not most radical feminists are quite religious. However, their religion is pantheistic and not theistic in nature.
The purpose of this article is to summarize the world-view of radical feminism and its approach to abortion, to suggest some possible public policy implications, and then to offer a brief theological critique. In speaking of radical feminism and its approach to abortion, I am differentiating between first, second, and third generation feminists. First generation feminism was seen in the suffrage movement here in the United States. The second phase of feminism was the “women’s liberation” and sexual liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Radical feminism is the “third wave” and is explicitly pagan in nature. In order to demonstrate the challenges of radical feminism, I have selected Rosemary Radford Ruether, Mary Daly, and Ginette Paris as primary examples. At key points I will refer to other feminists in order to amplify particular emphases.
I. Rosemary Radford Ruether
For twenty-five years, Rosemary Radford Ruether taught at Garrett Evangelical Seminary, a United Methodist School. She recently took a position at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkley. Ruether herself has self-identified as a Roman Catholic, though she clearly rejects basic teachings of the church. A graduate of Claremont Graduate School, Ruether’s thought has evolved from a feminist theologian who opposed patriarchy to one who aggressively embraces a counter-Christian worldview.1
In Sexism and God Talk (1983), Ruether combines a higher-critical view of scripture, a pagan worldview, and a socialist economic analysis into a feminist critique of society. She accepts the findings of the Documentary Hypothesis and argues that Patriarchy is most prevalent in the “J” or “Yahwist” source. She says, “Although the predominantly male images and roles of God make Yahwism an agent in the sacraliz...
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