Reposted from big think and worth reading:
Adam Lee on November 28, 2011, 6:54 AM
One hypothesis for the origin of religion is that it’s a kind of “costly signaling” – a way for people to prove their loyalty to the group by participating in complex rituals and extravagant shows of devotion. But there’s an underappreciated danger to this: when everyone in a community already follows a strict interpretation of faith, religious belief will have a tendency to spiral out of control into extremism, as group members go to greater and greater lengths to express their piety. And when religion grows more and more fanatical, while it’s bad for everyone forced to live under its dictates, it’s inevitably women who suffer the most.
The latest nigh-unbelievable example of this: In Saudi Arabia, where all women are forced to wear enveloping shrouds and face veils in public, the kingdom’s morality police have decided that even this isn’t extreme enough. Their spokesman has announced that if a woman is judged to have “tempting” eyes, she may have to cover those up as well (HT: Butterflies & Wheels). For reference, this is the same body whose members forced schoolgirls back into a burning building because they weren’t properly dressed to appear in public.
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