Chapter 10 of Hattery and Smith: Summary

In chapter 10 of their book, Hattery & Smith analyze the tensions between the public, public institutions, and religious institutions and their connection to family issues. According to religion sociologists, the importance of religion and the content of religious beliefs shape different behaviors and attitudes including voting patterns and interracial marriage. Based on data collected by the Pew Forum on Religious Life, about 80% of the American population is affiliated with some religion (Hattery & Smith, 2012). The authors also look at how religious practice and doctrine have shaped family violence aspects including parent-child relationships and gender roles. Nonetheless, they analyze how institutions respond to the family violence phenomenon arising when people try to find help from rabbis, ministers, priests, among other religious leaders.

Throughout the chapter, the authors note that, no religion advocates for violence. Most religions in the world consider violence as a trust betrayal (Hattery & Smith, 2012). The authors also argue that most religions are sex-segregated and this issue has led to women’s problems such as domestic violence and child abuse being viewed as invisible and unimportant. The issue is heightened by the fact that religious leaders have been involved in these kinds of abuse. For instance, a priest named Father Geoghan was sentenced to 10 years in prison after molesting a boy aged 10 years in 2002 (Hattery & Smith, 2012). This chapter highlights that there is a need for religions to open up to feminist ideas of equality and leadership for women for change to happen. Other critical aspects discussed in this chapter include the “safe book” and the work of the Black Church and Domestic Violence Institute.

One thing that I found interesting in this book is the issue of divorce and how it acts as a hindrance for religious women leaving their abusive marriages. For the longest time, I believed that the marriages of most religious leaders are the most perfect and without any issues related to violence. However, after reading this chapter I came to realize that most women married to religious leaders face intense pressure to remain in abusive marriages since marriage is believed to be a sacred and lifelong commitment (Hattery & Smith, 2012). It is interesting to learn that Muslim American women are reluctant in pursuing divorce since they fear being assigned maligned status and losing their spiritual community.

















Hattery, A., & Smith, E. (2012). The Social Dynamics of Family Violence. San Jose: EBSCO Publishing.


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