CNN's Roland Martin: 'Organized Religion' Is Desperately Sexist

CNN analyst Roland Martin wants his church run by women – perhaps because his wife is ordained minister and "prophetic coach" Jacquie Hood Martin. In an opinion piece for CNN.com, Martin attacks Catholic priests and bishops who reserve the role of altar servers for boys and not girls.

Martin’s so sloppy in this argument that apparently, refusing to allow altar girls isn’t much different than Muslims putting their women in burqas and not letting them drive. (Actually, on CNN Martin declared the need for cultural "respect" and hedged on a burqa ban in France.) 

If there is one institution that has made a point of desperately trying to keep women in their place, it's organized religion.

Whether it's Christianity, Islam or Judaism, women are often relegated to secondary roles, their contributions seen as insignificant.

In the Catholic Church, that is taken a step further by refusing to even allow women to become priests. Now, some Catholic churches are alienating women by refusing to allow girls to serve as altar servants.

Ahem, the Catholics call them "servers," not  "servants." Martin even insists that this policy is contrary to the Bible, but his scholarship is less than serious.

It would behoove these priests and archbishops to actually open up their Bibles and realize that were it not for women, there might never have been Christianity....John 19:25 says Jesus' mother, Mary, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene all were standing vigil. No men. No disciples. No apostles.   

Martin somehow completely forgets that the apostle John was present, for Jesus says to his mother in the very next verse “Woman, behold your son,” and to John, “Behold, your mother!”

In Martin’s view, the presence of the women at the cross and the resurrected Jesus appearing first to Mary Magdalene prove Christianity would have never gotten off the ground without women. This is more than a bit insulting to the concept of an all-powerful God.

This narrative in John does establish that women were very active in Christ’s developing church and beloved. But in John 20 (and in Matthew 16, which Martin quotes), Jesus founded his church on twelve male apostles.

Martin’s Bible study tells him that women were “standing guard” with Jesus, and were the ones that allowed Christianity to unfold: "Now just imagine the Christian faith if women had not been standing guard. If women weren't as vigilant in believing in Jesus Christ, there might not even be a Christian church today. That means no popes, no cardinals, no archbishops, no priests and no altar boys."

But Martin isn’t really making a religious argument. He’s making a cultural one, that the Catholics need to “get with the times,” that they’re going to fall behind because their marketing campaign isn’t modern.

This decision by Catholic Church leaders in Arizona and Virginia is nonsensical and unnecessary. All it does is drive a wedge through believers in the body of Christ, instead of expanding ways in which people can serve the church.

Such ignorance is one of the reasons why nondenominational Christian churches are growing at a faster rate than those associated with a denomination.

As long as churches erect barriers to serving for believers, they will not be seen as welcoming places to worship.

They’re “alienating” people, and being “unwelcoming.” Notice that liberals never “alienate” people when their “hope and change” gets installed. There's no "wedge" through believers, for example, when the Episcopalians name gay bishops. Before 1994, the church did not allow female altar servers. Many churches now do, but some retain a tradition for males, hoping to inspire future male priests.

Martin cites a decision in suburban South Riding, Virginia, where the priest rescinded altar server training for girls, as The Washington Post reported:

Tucked in with announcements about a new electronic donation system and a church dinner at Margarita's Mexican restaurant was news that Zickel, the mother of two girls, had been dreading: Corpus Christi would no longer train girls to be altar servers.

Zickel burst into tears and ran to the bathroom.

"I knew right then that our family couldn't stay at this church anymore," Zickel said, her voice breaking. "I'm a mama bear, and they're going after my girls."

The church is “going after” girls like a predator? But even The Post noted what Martin failed to notice: “Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde left the decision up to individual priests. Five years later, about 60 percent of the diocese's 68 parishes across northern and eastern Virginia still allow only altar boys, a diocese spokeswoman said.”

People in the “mainstream media” like Martin feel they have to remake every institution in society to match the liberal ideal of complete gender equality in all things, even dictating to churches how they shall run their worship services.

Father John Zuhlsdorf is much tougher on '"bumbling" Roland Martin at his blog.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis