"The title women
Without Superstition comes from the accolade given by the 19th
century’s most famous freethinker to his wife. Robert Green
Ingersoll dedicated his first book to Eva, "a woman without
superstition." Can there be greater praise?"
– No Masters’ was the motto Margaret Sanger chose for her
1914 publication, The Woman Rebel. Ever since encountering it I havae
felt is expressed in a nutshell the feminist viewpoint toward
patriarchal religion. ‘No Gods- No Masters’ gallantly
rejects the master/slave hierarchy of male power over women and
supernatural power over all humankind that is ordained in the Jebrew
and Christian testaments."
"The pansy was chosen for the dust jacket of ‘Women Without Superstition’
because pansies at one time became a symbol of
freethought ‘a custom
that ought to be revived’. The word comes from the French
‘pensee’, meaning ‘thought’ or
‘fancy,’ from the verb penser, ‘to think’ The
purple, yellow and white colours on the dust jacket represent
feminism since these three colours were adopted by the American
suffrage movement. Though in Britain Green, White and Violet
(Purple) were used and among various reasons put forward was code for Give Women the Vote."
thoughts and often eloquent writing of women without superstition
should not be forgotten in the musty corridors of a new libraries. One
should not have to spend hours of often discouraging labor at the
computer terminal, or tramp through university libraries, or experience
eyestrain infront of microfilmed documents just to be able to read some
of the views of women freethinkers! Ideas and accomplishments, not just
names, should be remembered/ In many cases even their names have been
movement has not acknowledged the debt it owes to the unorthodox,
freethinking women in its ranks. Their nonreligious views often have
been suppressed, as if shameful, when in fact repudiation of
patriarchal religion is an essential step in freeing women."Page xiii
"Reading only their
ideas without a context does not do justice to these women. Most are or
were activists and doers, movers and shakers, with lives as fascinating
as their writings. Finding biographical information often was as
daunting as locating their freethought writings, therefore more
background is offered than in the usual anthology."
"This anthology would
need to be twice as long to include every woman who has, by her
unorthodoxy, contributed to freethought or feminism. Quakers and
Unitarian-Universalist women, as well as the modern feminist
theologians, popularisers of goddess worship and women’s studies
scholars have all made contributions in battling patriarchal religion.
These contributions for the most part, have been recognised, whereas
the contributions of women freethinkers have been marginalized."
"There are striking commonalities in
the writings of women freethinkers. Many were freethinkers who, to
borrow my husband’s metaphor, sprang up in comparative isolation
like wildflowers, whose reasoning, experiences, study of religion or
reading of the bible compelled them to reach the same conclusions about
the harm of religion to women, intellect or society, and to speak out."
"The writers featured in
Women Without Superstition are freethinkers, not necessarily atheists,
although that label accurately describes many of them. Freethought
means the use of reason in forming opinions abut religion, rather than
basing belief on faith, authority or tradition."
Annie Laurie Gaylor's
definition of religion – "a belief in a supernatural being who
must be worshipped and obeyed as the creator anf ruler of the universe,
whose dicta are found in so-called sacred writings. Some use a looser
definition applying it to any system of philosophy or ethics, not
necessarily the supernatural. Others such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
turn the word on its head by adopting Thomas Paine’s irreverent
concept of a ‘religion of humanity"
"'religion’ takes on a sinister cast when one examines its root,
religare, meaning ‘to bind’, which in turn means ‘to
hold, to make prisoner, to restrain."
"Women freethinkers have
worked to break the ties that bind women and restrain intellect. They
eschew superstition – a belief inconsistent with the known laws
of science and reason. Among the pioneers of social change striving to
move humankind forward, they have directed their energies to this
world, not toward an unseen, improvable and unknowable one."
"Dominican Monk Jacob
Sprenger the infamous Witches Hammer handbook for killing women, used
twisted etymology to argue that the word ‘woman’ (femina)
literally means ‘faithless (condending fe=faith, mina =less)
"This can be turned into a compliment worthy of Col. Robert Ingerson