Women in religious debates
Not trying to scare off the guys - I need everyone's help. I seriously need some debate pointers for this situation:
The discussions I have had with women regarding religion nearly always take an emotional detour into the effects of religion versus the mechanics. They do not seem terribly interested in whether or not it is true so much as they worry about their families and 'doing the right thing'.
I spoke to a woman recently whose adult son is now Baptist, while she and the rest of the family are Catholic. Her take on it was that at least he is going to church. She spoke to her priest about this and he backed her up saying that she had done a good job raising a moral child (he did not mention religion anywhere in that statement) and that she should not worry because there is one god and he does not care what church people attend. I tried to steer the conversation back to the mechanics by mentioning that her priest certainly does not echo the sentiments of the Catholic church, particularly the current Pope. She agreed and said she was glad about that and she doesn't like the current pope either and he should not have said what he did.
She then went on to talk about her other son who does not attend church at all anymore. Her exact words were “He is a lost cause on that.” I missed a prime opportunity (as pointed out to me by BGH) to force her to specify what she meant by that. Saying your child is a ‘lost cause’ is a strong statement and I should have questioned her to what degree she deemed this child ‘lost’. I know in casual conversation clichés are thown out that don’t necessarily mean anything as negative as they sound when picked apart, but (and again I will have to give credit to BGH) that is precisely what needs to be done. People need to be forced to THINK about these phrases and what they mean by them. For instance, this woman is a friend of mine, but since I do not go to church, does that mean I am a ‘lost cause’ too? What exactly DOES that mean? I don’t feel like a lost cause. I also don’t think she really thinks I am, but I should have pushed the issue a little more to get her to think about it.
What I have found is that most theist women (not fundies) are able to discern the inconsistencies and improbability of religion, but feel that it is up to them to take their children to church because they are expected to - I am not at all convinced that these women even believe the things they are told. They go, they take their children, they feel their duty is done and go about their business the other 6 days of the week. If their children turn away from the church at a later date, they consider themselves guilt free in the eyes of the family, the community and society.
So, here is my question (finally!): How do I engage these women in a debate and get them to at least consider that what they are doing may end up being psychologically harmful to their children, especially their daughters who will be given the same expectations as they were? I do not want to reduce these women to tears, I just want good tips to get them to THINK.
Thanks everyone - sorry this is so long!