Feminism and Religion
Although difficult to define, the term ‘religion’ refers, in general, to beliefs and practices through which people express their understanding of divine powers or of the spiritual dimension of human existence and structure an appropriate response. In discussions of religion in the western world, the emphasis still tends to be placed on belief in a single transcendent and masculine divine being as creator and sustainer of human life within and beyond terrestrial existence and on the corresponding institutional structure; that is, the Christian Church. In the broader sense, of course, important differences exist between the various world religions or in less formalised religious positions. Having a belief in a single divinity which is justified on basically empirical grounds, for example, may be regarded by some people as the benchmark for a religious position. But, of course, amongst individuals and groups which regard themselves as religious, some will certainly not accept this as definitive and may cite quite different factors such as growth of selfknowledge or participation in ordained rituals. Nevertheless, it could be said that feminists in the field use a common methodology that cuts across these divisions.