Menstruating women in religious temples

Most religions have menstrual rules and restrictions. Some religions, but not all, prohibit menstruating women from entering their religious temples because they are seen as religiously unclean.

Personally, I have a problem with women being barred from religious events for a quarter of every month because their menstrual blood is seen as dirty or polluting. Do churches and temples have a legal right to forbid menstruating women from entering? What about women who have a special condition & are bleeding most (or all) of the time? I guess any church has the right to make a request, as long as women can choose whether to obey or not.

In Japan, traditionally women are not allowed to climb mountains sacred to the Shinto religion regardless of whether they are menstruating or not. Women are seen as permanently unclean due to the ‘blood impurities’ of menstruation and childbirth.  Only one mountain in Japan, Mount Sanjō (also known as Mount Mount Ōmine), actually reinforces this prohibition against women today (the ban has been challenged a number of times without success). Mount Sanjō does allow women onto one side of the mountain, but not onto the other side because that is near a holy temple. Here is the sign at the entrance that says “No Women Admitted” in English & Japanese:


Menstruating women are not permitted in Hindu temples because they are seen as religiously unclean. Many Hindu temples that are open to the public have a sign that prohibits menstruating women from entering. When visiting a foreign country I think we should “do as the Romans do,” and respect temple rules even if we don’t agree with them. Here are some signs outside Hindu temples in India & Bali:


In some Buddhist temples menstruating women are forbidden (particularly in the North of Thailand) because of the influence of Hinduism – however most Buddhist temples do not prohibit menstruating women (Buddhism does not have menstrual taboos).

In Islam, menstruating women are (generally) prohibited from entering mosques.

In Judaism menstruating women are allowed to attend the synagogue.

In most Christian churches today, menstruating women are allowed to attend church. However menstruating women are not allowed to receive communion in some more conservative Orthodox churches. In some, they are not allowed to attend church at all. Although Eve’s curse was pain in childbirth (not menstruation) later Christian writers have associated menstruation with Eve’s curse, and some Orthodox Christians today still see menstruation as religiously unclean.

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