Jimmy Carter Quits the Baptists | Stands Up for Women

by Alex

in Spiritual Growth

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Jimmy Carter just wrote an amazing article in the Guardian called The words of God do not justify cruelty to women.

In it he spells out why he had to sever his relations with the Southern Baptists over, in his opinion, their penchant for using the Bible as a tool of discrimination and sexism against women.

I have been a practicing Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world.

So my 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. This was in conflict with my belief – confirmed in the holy scriptures – that we are all equal in the eyes of God.

He goes on to rail against the use of God and holy scriptures in general, across many faiths, to justify abuses against women.

The male interpretations of religious texts and the way they interact with, and reinforce, traditional practices justify some of the most pervasive, persistent, flagrant and damaging examples of human rights abuses.

It’s great when a well-known male political figure takes a stab at this. Probably would have been better if he’d said it 30 years ago… but better late than never.

Read the full Guardian article here.

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Posted on Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Jill July 14, 2009 at 8:17 pm

Thank you for sharing this Alex.

Gil Malonzo July 14, 2009 at 8:18 pm

Relevant for the times. This just gained a prominent place on my Facebook wall. Good post, buddy. : )

Joe July 14, 2009 at 8:42 pm

What a nut!

This guy is defending Hamas and other Muslim extremists who subjugate women.

Mark Pogue July 14, 2009 at 8:49 pm

@ Joe

How is Carter defending Hamas? He has been defending the Palestinians who have been losing their ground to militant Israeli action.
He attempted a peace treaty. I forgot….peace isn’t the American way anymore.

Stephanie July 14, 2009 at 9:15 pm

Totally awesome post! ^.^ I know a few pastors in my area that could heed his words.

Alex July 14, 2009 at 9:19 pm

@ Gil & Stephanie – thanks guys. Appreciate the kind words!

@ Joe – I would people are complicated…politicians even more so. Many toe the line their entire careers. At least now, with nothing to lose politically, he speaks on the subject. Presumably it’ll carry some weight, and get a discussion started.

Das July 14, 2009 at 9:57 pm

The Adam story is so mythical … one among many stories. It just happened to belong to a religion that is managed and propagated well. Many other storeis died because their religions did not dominate the world. That is all.

A man of conscience like Carter is always admired by people. It will be difficult to suppress women anymore. The old tools, including mythology will not work anymore.

Alex July 14, 2009 at 10:15 pm

@ Das – thanks for the comment. Interesting point. I think you’re point about suppression is valid in the West. Not quite the same in many developing countries and dictatorships.

And its true about myths. I’m reading some Mircea Eliade now regarding myths, and will hopefully start “The Evolution of God” which just came out.

mezon July 15, 2009 at 3:42 am

Not true . I am a Muslim , I am treated like a princess . every one of my relatives care for me and look after my interest. I am well educated and I have the freedom to go were ever I want . I have the same salary as my male colleagues and much more , I hope you would not fallow the media propaganda about Islam , take care ;)

Jason July 15, 2009 at 4:25 am

I think Jimmy Carter is a brave man.

Arif July 15, 2009 at 9:44 am

Mezon;

I am happy for you, I glad that you are treated like a princes, as you should be, the fact that you are an exception to the rule does not obviate the necessity to stand up for the millions who are not treated like you.

And to people who are focused on Carter’s motives now as compared to when he was the president, it matters not why. The whole mess in this world is because people focus on the messenger instead of the message. We worship Jesus and forget what he stood for, We venerate Muhammad and forget the teachings.

Lets stop pointing fingers at the messengers, lets engage our minds and find the good and lets support that which makes us all better, it matters not if the messenger is a Jew, Christian , Muslim, Hindu or an Atheist.

Arif

Alex July 15, 2009 at 11:00 am

@ Mezon – thank you for your comment. It’s hard to make a case for how women are treated as a whole, by generalizing from a single example.

@Arif – I agree with you with taking Mezon’s example for what is it…and exception.

With respect to Carter, I actually like some of what he’s done throughout his career. But with respect to his motives, he admits himself, that he’s partially doing it because he has nothing to lose politically.

I’m of the opinion that its great that he’s standing up at all. But its not quite as hard politically to be “pro-women” in the West these days (as opposed to 30 yrs ago) :)

Gil July 15, 2009 at 12:02 pm

@Mezon – Many, who are just like me, are ignorant when it comes to the plight of Muslim women around the world. So when we hear things like what you just said and then read some other things from those who have escaped the ideology (such as the link I provide below), we just couldn’t help but wonder… how does one get to meet a princess? : )

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/06/19-11

Thank you.

Kevin July 15, 2009 at 12:32 pm

1 Tim 2:11-16
“11A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But womenwill be saved through childbearing if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”

He basically has a problem with the scriptures, not the Southern Baptist. It’s unfortunate that he elevates his personal felt needs above the authority of the scriptures.

Kevin July 15, 2009 at 12:35 pm

@ Mezon – you may be a Muslim and that’s how you may be treated. But as far as the Qur’an specified, your treatment at the moment by your male colleagues is unislamic.

Mark July 15, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Kevin, go hug a root. Your bible also says not to eat shrimp, yet on any given Sunday around noon you see all of the church people sitting there in their finest eating what? SHRIMP! Damn them all to hell. So tell me, what’s with your god and tapeworms? What’s that a punishment for?

cdkleitch July 15, 2009 at 7:52 pm

Mr. Carter makes a deeply painful and difficult choice to leave his church, which I respect. I just don’t know how much impact this will actually have on the Southern Baptist Church (or our culture in general). The Church left me long ago with its quaint–and unjustified–doctrines limiting the full humanity