This was a striking argument that made the development of female intellectual potential inseparable from the worship of God. But while this is certainly useful as an argument for elevating the standard of female education, it falls far short of a cry for female emancipation.
Religion's relationship to feminism is more thoroughly explored in Sarah Moore Grimke's more ambitious Letters on the Equality of the Sexes, and the Condition of Woman (1838). What had changed in the fifty years since Murray's entitled "On the Equality of the Sexes" was published was that the battle for the liberation of women's intellectual abilities appeared to have been won. By the 1830s, well-educated women existed. But the shift that was occurring at the time - precipitated by the antislavery movement - was toward the use of female abilities to intervene in debates of social importance. Like other feminist antislavery advocates, Sarah Grimke gained notoriety as an outspoken female advocate of the antislavery cause. In 1838, Grimke, who had converted to Quakerism around 1818 - apparently because it was compatible with her passionate commitment to antislavery (Lerner 8) - found herself vilified by the press and rebuked by the Congregationalist ministerial association of Massachusetts for her participation in an abolitionist lecture tour of New England in 1837-38.
What was controversial, however, was not so much her antipathy to slavery - although the Congregationalist clergy had long sought to stifle criticism of slavery - than the idea that a woman should dare to speak out publicly on a matter of such importance (Behnke 20; Lerner 19). Grimke responded to her critics by publishing a work, which forcefully defended her right to speak. Addressed to Mary S. Parker, president of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society, Grimke's Letters dwelt at length on the Bible, which was the ultimately source of the conservative view that women were commanded by God to restrict their endeavors to the domestic sphere. Grimke shared Murray's conviction that the meaning of scripture had been 'perverted' in the interests of men. Almost everything that has been written about 'the sphere of woman,' she argued, 'has been the result of a misconception of the simple truths revealed in the Scriptures.' She cited, in particular, erroneous translations, and professed a low opinion of the 1611 King James Bible (221). In an examination of the creation narrative, she discerned no grounds to believe that God had created woman as an inferior creature. Both genders
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