Jimmy Carter stands up for women
Jimmy Carter has strong words for religious authorities that defend and perpetuate discrimination against women. He writes in an essay published in The Guardian (and, a few days later, in the Australian paper The Age):
…[M]y decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.
I found this via a story at Politics Daily with the headline “Jimmy Carter Leaves Church Over Treatment of Women.” If you read too quickly, the opinion piece does sound like it’s announcing a new decision, but it’s actually building on an old one. Carter severed his ties with the SBC in October 2000, citing differences related to “such beliefs as separation of church and state, servanthood and not domination of pastors, local church autonomy, a free religious press and equality of women.” This essay — which The Guardian titled “The Words of God Do Not Justify Cruelty to Women” — places particular emphasis on the final element in that list. Carter rejects the practice of quoting Scripture to defend the idea that women are subordinate to men. And he makes an explicit connection between that kind of thinking, in all religions, and the social effects, from violence against women to unequal standards in education and work. He concludes:
The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.