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Posts Tagged ‘religious skepticism’

Women and FreeThought

Posted by dystressed on August 31, 2008

One of my heroes is Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Her intellect was stunning for today, let alone the mid to late nineteenth century. Along with Susan B. Anthony, she spearheaded the more agressive and progressive faction of the women’s rights movement, beginning in 1848 at the conference at Seneca Falls, New York.

I read about her a great deal in college, but I never made the connection to her FreeThought stance until yesterday. I was watching “Not for Ourselves Alone” the Ken Burns documentary that paired the lives of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Buy this movie on Amazon

Buy this movie on Amazon

Most people know who Susan B. Anthony is, because in the 1970s, she was the first woman to appear on US Coins. But Stanton was much more provocative, much more of an introspective philosopher, plus she died first. History tends to favor the character who survives longer.

Stanton is arguably the mother of the women’s rights movement because although Anthony gave many of the movements speeches, organized most of the lectures, Stanton wrote most of the text and provided much of the rhetoric. This included the famous Declaration of Rights and Sentiments at the 1848 Seneca Falls conference. Stanton was also stuck at home with her seven children (whom she did not require to attend any church), so this meant that Anthony was essentially the public face of the cause.

According to the documentary, toward the end of her years, Stanton rewrote the Bible with a slant toward feminism, an outright scandalous move that got her censured from the movement she helped to build.

The Womens Bible on Amazon

Today I found even more information archived online from a speech Stanton made about the establishment of religion and the dangers of putting women down with antiquated religious notions.

She encourages the audience to question popular theology, calling the times (about 1870) not much better than the inquisition.

I think it’s important to reflect on the role women have played in the history of FreeThought and in history overall. I have often wondered what Stanton would say were she alive today.

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