Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Born: November 12, 1815
Died: October 26, 1902
Elizabeth Cady Stanton is best known to the American public for her role in the fight for women's suffrage and less well known for her efforts on behalf of abolition and temperance. Least well known is her role as an outspoken critic of traditional Christianity and the place religion has played in the repression of women in society.
Stanton was not along among the suffrage workers to argue that the repression of women was not simply caused by government but, rather, by religion. She argued that religion had to change dramatically for any headway to be made in the cause of women's freedom:
When women understand that governments and religions are human inventions; that bibles, prayer-books, catechisms, and encyclical letters are all emanations from the brains of man, they will no longer be oppressed by the injunctions that come to them with the divine authority of 'Thus sayeth the Lord.'
Stanton was originally raised as a conservative Presbyterian but as she grew more progressive in political matters, her perspective on religion began to change as well. In 1895 she took a lead role in the publication of The Woman's Bible, a biblical commentary written by a committee of female scholars committed to equal rights for women. It not only criticized biblical passages which served to degrade women, it also offered alternative translations which presented women in a more positive light.
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