President Carter


I have always admired President Carter, at least I have since I first heard of him when he was running for president in 1976.   He seemed to embody the epitome of integrity.  He has a world of patience and likes to work within the system but, as evidenced by his most recent action, he is willing to shake up the status quo when nothing else seems to work.

From Politics Daily

After more than 60 years together, Jimmy Carter has announced himself at odds with the Southern Baptist Church — and he’s decided it’s time they go their separate ways. Via Feministing, the former president called the decision “unavoidable” after church leaders prohibited women from being ordained and insisted women be “subservient to their husbands.” Said Carter in an essay in The Age:

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.


And, later:

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.

After watching everyone from philandering politicians to Iran’s president taking a sudden look heavenwards when the roof starts to come down on them, it’s refreshing to see Carter calling out the role of religion in the mistreatment of women.

The question for Carter — and for others who find themselves at odds with leadership — is, when a group you’re deeply involved in starts to move away from your own core beliefs, do you stay and try to change from within or, at some point, do you have to look for the exit? Carter did give the former a shot — in recent years publicly criticizing and distancing himself from church leadership, while staying involved with his church. Now, he’s seeing if absence might do what presence did not.

And from feministing

Former President Jimmy Carter has announced that he is leaving the Southern Baptist Church after sixty years because of its treatment of girls and women.

[It was 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.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

Read Carter’s full statement here. (By the way, I’m just shocked that I haven’t seen any media coverage of this.)

Having said that most religious leaders are male and having observed that most people with power do not willingly give it up, it is not surprising that we have arrived at this point in time.  The Pope is male and the Catholic church, even though they have a shortage of priests, will not ordain a woman to be a priest.  And I am not shocked that there is no media coverage.  Men run the media.

President Carter has just grown bigger in my eyes.

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