Parental Projection Explanations

None of the theories discussed so far throw any light on the greater sex differences found in membership ratios, especially in Protestant groups. However, Freud's notions of paternal projection can provide an explanation. According to psychoanalytic conceptions of the oedipal period (age 3-6), girls should have a positive attachment to fathers but boys should feel ambivalent about them. Freud then proposed that God is a fantasy and substitute father figure. The main evidence in support of this hypothesis is the finding that images of God are similar to images of parents, particularly to opposite sex parents. For women the image of God, and attitudes to God, are more similar to those towards father, and for men to those towards mother. For women God is seen more often as a healer; He is also seen as more often benevolent rather than punitive. If the culture carries an image of God as male, as a father, this image should therefore appeal more to women. It is also found that Catholics experience God as more like a mother (Rees, 1967); in addition the Virgin Mary and some female saints are very prominent in Catholic worship. This could produce a stronger religious response from males. For Protestants the main object of worship is Jesus, and this should appeal to women. DeConchy (1968) found, in a large study of Roman Catholic children, that for boys the image of God was more often connected with the Virgin Mary, while for girls it was linked more often to Jesus. Also relevant to women's experience is the maleness of most of the clergy, who are addressed as "father" in many religious traditions.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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