Media’s Favorite Lib Nun Blames Religion for War on Poverty Failing Women

In Maria Shriver’s feminist report, nun calls on religions to ‘repent’ for their treatment of women.

The real source of poverty for women in this country is religion, according to … a nun? Relax. Sister Joan Chittister is an outspoken liberal – the kind of malcontent nun the media loves to use as a stick against the Catholic Church. And that’s why she’s included in a free e-book compiled by (Kennedy Catholic) Maria Shriver to mark the fifty year anniversary of President Johnson’s “War on Poverty.”

Maria Shriver came out with a collection of feminist essays by high profile people, including such leading thinkers as Beyonce Knowles and Eva Longoria. The idea: that spectacular failure of the War on Poverty has failed women in especially spectacular ways –  it’s rather like the old joke about the New York Times headline: “Asteroid to destroy Earth; Women, Minorities Hardest Hit.”

In, “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back From the Brink,” published Jan. 11, Sister Chittister took aim at religious attitudes in America that “devalue” and marginalize women. 

Said she, “women are still one class of people who are set apart, separated, and given less value and worth by multiple religious traditions.” Not only that, but religion has played a key part in women’s poverty and illiteracy:

“Women have been locked out of full humanity and full participation in religious institutions and society at large. This marginalization of women masquerades as ‘protecting’ them and even ‘exalting’ them. Instead, these attitudes serve to deny the human race the fullness of female gifts and a female perspective on life.  As a result, women make up two-thirds of the hungry of this world. And women are two-thirds of the illiterate of this world. And women are two-thirds of the poorest of the poor, because they lack access to the resources and recognition men take for granted. That’s not an accident. That is a policy—one supported by religious institutions that call such discrimination 'women’s place' and 'God’s will.'"

Presumably, if the Church would only allow women priests (and then maybe let them marry their lesbian partners), all would be milk and honey. Oh, and things like rape? Chittister says they’re religion’s fault too.

“What religion has said about women has long been used to justify what society has done to limit their development. Not only does what our churches, mosques, synagogues, and faith communities teach and do about women become the morality of the land. What they do not say or do on behalf of women condones what becomes the immorality of the land.

 In our own country rapes in the military and rapes on college campuses go unpunished because ‘boys will be boys’ and winning wars and football games are more important than protecting the integrity of the women who are the victims of rape.

Rape is a horrible crime and a grave sin – last we checked, the Church was pretty clear on that. The Church also has a bee in its miter about the slaughter of unborn infants, but apparently Chittister was at the liturgical dance supply store during that homily. She has called abortion just a personal choice.

No so with pay scales – she’s all fire and brimstone when it comes to spreading the wealth. “In our country, religious people who insist that caring for children is a woman’s major responsibility in life have not yet called underpaying single women with children the sin that it is. “

To culminate her essay, the Sister calls on religions to “repent” for assuming women can’t do the same things men do:

 “It is time for religions to repent the acceptance of assumptions about the social place and roles of women—assumptions that spring from theological definitions of women are less fully rational, less fully human, and less fully essential to the public arena than men.”

Sister Chattister’s comments don’t come as a surprise, considering she’s a favorite among liberal media and a member of the socially liberal nuns group, “Leadership Conference of Women Religious.”  She’s a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, PBS, and once gave a TED talk. She is also a frequent panelist on the news networks on the women’s role in the church, and most recently was interviewed March 19, 2013 by Maria Shriver on the same topic on NBC’s “Today.”

After all, Shriver has called Chittister one of her personal “heroes.” What’s more appealing to liberals, than a Christian who believes abortion is a personal choice, and women should be included in the priesthood? Chittister is the perfect Kennedy Catholic.

— Kristine Marsh is Staff Writer for MRC Culture at the Media Research Center. Follow Kristine Marsh on Twitter.