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Faith, fatwahs, and Father’s Day

Created date

May 30th, 2009

' Is religion a bunch of "pie in the sky" or does it make a difference on earth? According to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, her religious upbringing was "hostile to women gays and Jews" so she explained on FOX News Sunday. As told in her memoir, Infidel, Ali eventually fled Africa for asylum in the Netherlands. Elected to Parliament, this Muslim-turned-atheist was stunned when an extremist murdered her producer because of a ten-minute documentary: Submission, Part 1. When death threats came in styled like fatwahs (Islamic legal opinions) the tall feminist hid out in Massachusetts for awhile. Re-emerging with the American Enterprise Institute, this frank writer continued to decry that "millions of women live in forced marriages and 6,000 small girls are excised every day." Closer to home, Virginia sociologist Brad Wilcox began to ask a similar question: "Does America s majority religion affect the behavior of family men?" In his book, Soft Patriarchs, New Men, this scholar compared three groups of men: unaffiliated, conservative Protestants, and mainline Protestants. Compared to one or both groups, Wilcox found conservatives to be more likely to spank and to have an unequal division of labor, yet more likely to express feelings with their children and to emotionally engage with their wives. Ali and Wilcox seem to agree: religion can affect family life, but not always for the good. In one family back in 1909, it was for the good. As Sonora Smart Todd sat in a Spokane congregation, she pondered the annual Mother s Day sermon thinking about her dad, a Civil War veteran and widower. At the time, Father s Day did not exist. In Todd s opinion, her father had done a masterful job raising six children alone. She had watched him follow the apostolic and Mosaic commands for childrearing: "Fathers, do not embitter your children do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training of the Lord .Do not forget the things your eyes have seen .Teach them to your children." Later, as her idea for another holiday caught on, Woodrow Wilson s family observed their first Father s Day in the White House. Later Calvin Coolidge marked it as a national holiday a day to encourage our fathers in their walk of faith.