There is a consistent response I have observed from secular men of varying ages based in North America or Europe when discussing Islam and Christianity in online forums and Facebook discussions.
When I bring up Islam in discussions with secular men they will often say, “All religions are bad, not just Islam,” or, “Islam and Christianity are both equally bad.”
One secular middle aged man based in London said, “I myself, as someone of the left have no problem with Muslim people. I have difficulties with the tenets of Islam as I do with any religion.”
They tend to use the history of Christianity to justify it being equal to Islam in current times. Not only does this make Christianity out to be the same as Islam in today’s age, but it allows Islam off the hook of more in-depth analysis.
“It’s the same as any other religion, who cares!”
This is appalling to me considering, as a woman, I do not view Christianity and Islam to be equal at all. I view Islam to be much worse and I am actually very concerned about the expansion of Islam.
Islam is one of the most female oppressive religions in the modern world. Muslim women are often not given the option to work or even drive. Husbands are typically permitted to beat and control their wives. Women are often not allowed to wear what they choose and are even ridiculed for taking a photo with the hijab off. Some are even killed for stepping out of line because they are considered to have dishonored their family.
Christianity in the west, on the other hand, has been more accepting of adapting to modern western values and allowing women to have rights.
I question why is it that I, a secular woman, view these religions as different compared to the secular men I have spoken to? And why do I rarely hear women chime in about Islam being the same as Christianity?
I have determined two reasons for this difference.
The first difference is that I am a woman and therefore take more notice of treatment of women. I acknowledge that if I was in a Muslim society, the treatment of women would apply directly to me. A man is not a woman. It makes sense that he would not be as impacted by seeing a woman wearing a hijab because, at the end of the day, he ultimately never has to wear the hijab.
Occasionally I attempt to envision myself in the shoes of a Muslim woman in a Muslim country and what life would be like based on news stories I have read. What would it be like to wait on my husband to give me permission to do basic tasks? What if I feared death for being interested in a man of different faith? How would I ever leave my husband if I am not permitted to work?
These are things that men would not give as much thought to because it ultimately does not apply to them.
The second reason I have determined in why I view these religions differently compared to the views of secular men is because I have invested more time into studying social events connected to Islam, such as treatment of women, Islam in the public education system, etc. I usually am able to school men about Islam-related events involving honor deaths, rape, segregation, hate crimes, etc. I am disappointed that they usually are not aware of these events.
As a secular woman I do not view Christianity and Islam to be the same. I would live in the west where Christianity is the predominant religion any day over living in a Muslim nation.
Lauren Ell is President of Republican Atheists. She is a business owner, consultant, marketer and communications strategist. Contact Lauren Ell here. Follow Republican Atheists on Facebook and Twitter.