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


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.


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? : )


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 of women. And, as Kevin’s post shows, the literalistic interpretation of sacred texts that justify the continued subjugation of women is alive and well, and will take a long, long time to change. But one can hope, eh? Thanks Alex for the terrific post, and as usual, a great conversation.

kash July 15, 2009 at 9:19 pm

I pretty much agree with everything Jimmy said, except for his view on authority. 1 Timothy makes it pretty clear that Men are to be the authority and leaders of the Church. That does not make Women less important or useless. They will have ministries within the Church as well.

kash July 15, 2009 at 9:27 pm


Shrimp being forbidden to eat was old testament for the Israelites. This was a dietary law for them to distinct themselves from everyone else. New Testament where we are not judged by the law anymore, Jesus declared all food being clean! (Mark 7:19)

Alex July 16, 2009 at 10:26 pm

@Gil – thank you for the insightful comment.

@Kevin – thanks to you too for your comment. I’d gotten some other more private notes about disapproval of Jimmy Carter’s stance on the baptist church. Its interesting to see what riles people :)

@Mark – thank you for your shrimp comment – lol

@ cdkleitch – thank you for the kind words, and insightful comment. My feeling is that any kind of social progress comes with each new generation.

This reminds me of something. I forgot who actually said it, but it was something to the effect that: “progress” is when a current generation dies out, and the new one comes along and forgets what pissed off the previous one in the first place.

@kash – thanks for your comments. :)

Dave July 18, 2009 at 6:14 pm

Mezon, I am sure the woman in this story felt like she had it very good also.


Timothy Wright July 19, 2009 at 3:18 pm

I am pleased that President Carter is a Christian. I find it amazing that he defends Hamas and Fatah and they treat women like rubbish. The hypocrisy is amazing that he does not stand up for these women. The US needs to stand up for the rights of Muslim women around the world. Why are all the feminists so quiet on this issue. Shame on them.

Mother Batherick July 19, 2009 at 6:03 pm

@ Kash
My, your fingers are quite red. Somebody’s been cherry-picking again, haven’t they?

So let me get this straight. Following the kosher laws found in the old testament is an unnecessary practice due to (your words, not mine) “Jesus declared all food being clean!”, but the condemnation of homosexuals, a practice also found in the old testament, and subjugation of women (again, found in the old testament) are perfectly ok to practice.

Hey, I think I see a cherry still on that tree from whence you picked. But fear not! for I think I’ve found the source of your confusion.

See, according to the Bible, Jesus said that he came not to abolish the laws of the prophets, but to fulfill them. What many people do not realize was that there was an asterisk (*) at the end of that sentence and that Jesus originally intended for Christians to arbitrarily decide what to follow based on how they were feeling that day.

Remember kids, it is particularly important that Jesus be loved and revered, and that his words be ignored.

Ella July 19, 2009 at 9:28 pm

I feel like I should say something in defense of Mezon – she is most definitely NOT the exception to the rule in being treated like a princess in her Islamic faith. Most Islamic women enjoy the same position as her. It is also worth noting that that Kevin has most likely never read the Qur’an because I can testify, not just as a doctor of religious studies but as a catholic and a woman, that the Qur’an insists on the preciousness of women – more so than the Holy Bible does in fact.

Tony Cushim July 20, 2009 at 11:00 am

This person should be ashamed to show his face in public. He is without doubt the worst president this country ever had. If you recall he forced the Shah of Iran to leave the country and thats when all the trouble started with the Islamic radicals. Human rights he called it. I would like him to explain this to us instead of writing pro Hamas and pro terrorist books. What a nutcase!!!

Anfra Boyd July 20, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Thank you president Carter for standing up for women’s rights. The fact that you have quit the Southern Baptist is wonderful. Hopefully one day you will give up Christianity and start to see that the entire philosophy of Christainity is based on male dominance and hypcrosy. I faught for decades until I decided to give it up totally. Christianity has so many contridictions it’s unbelievable.

It is time for people in general and especially Americans or better yet African Americans to wake up and start to view life from a more spiritual point of view. It is time that we collectively acknowledge God as an internal Light that is within every creature on earth. A light that radiates unconditional love for everyone and everything on earth and in the universe.

Anfra Boyd

Tania July 20, 2009 at 11:34 pm

Right on!

Ed July 21, 2009 at 7:56 am

It’s simple. For Christians who really want to know the truth, go the Bible and see if what the pastors said is true. If the Bible does say what they’ve said, then they’re clearly correct. The Bible should not be altered to fit our times. (Revelations 22:18-20, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). In the end God’s opinion is the one that truly matters. And yes, he does love all of us, male and female. But that doesn’t mean the pastors or the Bible are preaching anything less than love and obedience to God. Read the Bible, asking God and the Holy Spirit to help you understand, then it will be clear. But first, you must accept Christ as LORD and savior. Otherwise, the Bible won’t make sense to you. Remember, it’s about God and what he wants. He tells us what he wants in the Bible.

Jon July 21, 2009 at 8:39 pm

It’s great to see Liberals going out and seeking new information out of line with their worldview, rather than all congregating in the same place and congratulating each other on how open minded they are.

justsomeone July 22, 2009 at 3:05 pm

not all muslim womens are treated badly, and you people might find it weird or think that we have no rights or that we are not allowed to live freely and we are not satisfied then you are mistaken . there are bad people in every religion .

if a christian man beat his wife,, the news wouldn’t say ” the CHRISTIAN man beat his wife ” but if he was a muslim it would go in the headlines ” THE MUSLIM MAN beat his wife ” .why mention that he is muslim ? does islam had anything to do with it ? just coz some people dont follow it properly that doesnt mean EVERYone is like that . face it , islam is the target of everyone nowadays .

everyone have their own religion they follow.

gweneet August 2, 2009 at 5:28 pm

i respect people that can make a decision like this. it says a lot about him as a person, his commitment to his integrity and growth.

and as for the whole “islam and subjugation of women” … let’s not even go there! it’s more complicated that it seems and if you research the history/politics/religion/culture of the region, you’ll see it all looks very similar the Christian past.

Tim December 23, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Mad respect to Mr.Carter…

Joe January 1, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Further proof what an incredible pussified hippie Jimmy Carter is

Justin Dent February 26, 2010 at 7:10 pm

I applaud Jimmy. But I would ask all Americans this simple question? Do you actually know the history of Christianity and how churches like the Baptists, originally persecuted by governments and the old RCC came to be formed, what their aims were and how they have become inevitably all corrupted to some degree from their original intent? I am an agnostic but was raised Catholic. I find it very ironic that almost all of the Protestant religions now perpetuate in one way or another the very abuses against which they so “protested” in the Catholic Church. And I am by no means mounting some kind of apology for the RCC. However it must be said, that despite all the good work Christians do, too often behind the veil of religion lies hypocrisy, avarice and a few individuals who derive enormous financial gains. Please just think about it for yourself and for godsake remember every religious text was written by a human hand enacting the human intention of the author, even when that author believed he/she was speaking the “Word of God”.
PS: RCC = Roman Catholic Church

Justin Dent February 26, 2010 at 7:36 pm

One more thing for Joe, the tough guy above, come on down to Australia, big boy, minus your yankie guns and see how far your tough-talking redneck crap flies here. Listen buddy Neo-con Republicans and small-minded US patriots like you are the real pussies. Have you ever really examined the aims and objectives that the founders of your freedom had. They were nothing like Cheney, Rumsfeldt, Bush, Palin.They were principled individuals who wanted to create a free, just, fair and tolerant society for all men, (which also now implies women of course). I am not a hippy but I’ve met many who’d kick your sorry posterior from here to neverland and then eat you for desert and they wouldn’t need a gun to do it. Why do so many Americans think a leftist or alternative political point of view is weak. You have a lot to learn. Either you are uneducated or so pampered with the privileged lifestyle you lead that you can’t even glimpse the truth because of your prejudices. It’s this kind of attitude that is destroying the reputation of the USA all over the world. Travel a bit if you don’t believe me. God what happened to the USA????

And a question for muslims – when is the last time you heard a muslim take any responsibility for the part that they play in the present chaos the world suffers from. If a genuine muslim does not support violence and terror then speak out against it NOW and LOUD. In Christian countries freedom of speech is valued and protected. And self-criticism is applauded. In other words Christians DO criticise and engage in debate with other christians and do so in a civilized, rational manner, at least sometimes. By the way I am not a christian either. But I just don’t hear ANY muslims developing any kind of coherent critique about Islam. And re women in Islam, if it’s so liberating and wonderful, then you are perfectly free to change religions, yes? Well aren’t you? But in a fully Islamized society what would happen if a woman dared to try to become say a buddhist or to live in some un-Islamic way?

Justin Dent February 26, 2010 at 7:47 pm

That guy Ed is hysterically funny. He really believes the Bible is the word of God. It’s a human document, the greater part of which was written by Jews and for Jews and has now been translated many times over from Hebrew to Ancient Greek, then into Latin and only very recently (last 500 yrs) did it assume any English form. Every translation necessarily alters meaning. That’s how it is, Ed. Humans wrote the thing and they translated it. Humans did this Ed, not God. You poor sad man. Why don’t you study the extraordinary amount of painstaking scholarship that has been done into the Bible over the last two centuries. And talk to some Jewish people as well. Jesus WAS a Jew. Yeah and I am not Jewish either. Can’t you guys engage in some real critical debate, that’s informed and intelligent. Where I come from an intelligent man is respected. Slavish devotion to anything that you haven’t thought about yourself and sought an independent opinion upon is just plain stupid.

Ron February 15, 2011 at 8:17 pm

I am sorry to hear that Justin doesn’t think that the Bible was inspired by God and given to man to write. I guess he has never heard the voice of God talk to him. Well, that is too bad, because if he did he would finally after all these years understand. The Bible is the Word of God. No translation makes any difference. I have been studying in all the languages of the time of Jesus and before and have found that they prove the Bible is God’s word.
As for here in the USA, yes, Justin, there are alot of us that have studied the history of our Founding Fathers and know and agree with what they set down and what is now being taken away by the so-called politicians of today. None of them have ever read the Constitution that they swear to uphold and defend or the Declaration of Independance. So Justin, yes we can engage in some real critical debate.

Lovely August 9, 2014 at 11:09 pm

BuryDBF:Here’s as good an explanation as any to Carter’s metivos. That, and the latent anti-Semitism that seems to be common to “the Christian Lib-Left” in recent days.Palestine: Peace, Not Prejudice By Joseph PuderFrontPageMagazine.com | December 15, 2006Jimmy Carter, it appears, needed a scapegoat for his failed presidency and Israel served as a convenient target. His new book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid is a shameful tract filled with factual inaccuracies, and blatant one-sidededness. His pent up frustration with his inability to influence U.S. policy on behalf of his Arab friends prompted the publication of this libelous book. Lest the readers forget, in March 1977, just months after his inauguration, Carter made his first foreign policy speech in which he called for a “Palestinian Homeland.” Carter’s presidency, widely renowned for its crowning achievement, The Camp David Accords, which established a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, was not however, a Carter initiative. Carter’s intentions and policy commitments were geared towards arranging a Geneva Peace Conference with all the parties to the Arab-Israeli dispute present, in addition to the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Carter dispatched Cyrus Vance, his Secretary of State, to Moscow to get the Soviets to co-sponsor the conference. On May 21, 1977, Secretary Vance and Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko issued a joint statement that the “elimination of the continued source of tension in the Middle East constitutes one of the primary tasks in ensuring peace and international security.” The statement specified moreover the conviction of the U.S. and U.S.S.R. that in order to achieve the goal, “an important role belonged to the Geneva Conference on the Middle East.”Carter decided to coordinate his Middle East efforts with the Soviets on the premise that keeping them out of the picture could provoke them to undermine any American sponsored moves. This typical Carteresque strategy of appeasing dictatorships and dictators (Carter never met a dictator he did not like) backfired time and again. In the case of the Geneva Conference, Anwar Sadat, Egypt’s President, who five years earlier expelled the Soviets from Egypt, did not want the Soviets involved in negotiations, much less in a multilateral negotiations. Sadat understood that the Soviets would press the Arabs to be uncompromising (he also knew that Carter would press Israel for concessions) and was turned off by the thought that radical voices in Syria and Iraq would undermine Egypt’s position as the leader of the Arab world.Sadat was dead-set against going to Geneva. And, in order to scuttle the idea he had to get Israel to reject it.On November 7, 1977, Anwar Sadat made an historic trip to Jerusalem providing Israelis with one of the most euphoric days in their collective memory. Sadat’s dramatic move and Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s personal opposition to Geneva and Soviet participation scuttled the idea of the conference. Carter quickly jumped on the Begin-Sadat bandwagon and the rest is history. It is important to acknowledge that the Camp David Accords – Carter’s premier presidential achievement – happened in spite of his misjudgment.In a recent interview with NPR’s Terry Gross, Carter claimed, rather unconvincingly, that the title Palestine: Peace not Apartheid only pertained to the “West Bank and Gaza and not to Israel itself.” If that is the case, it must be Carter not George Bush who does not read newspapers. Apparently Carter forgot about Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip for which Israel has been rewarded with increasing and continual Kassam rocket attacks on Israeli towns in the western Negev. Palestinian-Arab terrorism with its strain of suicide bombers that targeted Israeli civilians, particularly children, is of no interest to “human rights Jimmuh.” Carter, it seems, has amnesia when it comes to recalling the murderous actions of Palestinian terrorists led by his late friend, Yasser Arafat. (Carter volunteered to serve as his advisor on how to deal with the U.S.). As far as Carter is concerned Israel has contravened all UN resolutions and other agreements, in its eagerness to grab Palestinian lands. The fact that suicide-bombers killed nearly 500 Israelis, in 2002 alone, forcing the Israeli military to reoccupy most of the major cities Israel handed over to the Palestinian Authority as part of the Oslo Accords, in order to protect its civilians, is not within Carter’s scope of understanding. Israeli closures and security checks as well as the security barrier are meant to forestall Palestinian-Arab terrorism. The Palestinian hardships Carter bemoans were instituted after the al-Aqsa intifada that meant to destroy the Jewish State. Until the late 1980’s hundreds of thousands of Palestinian workers had easy access to Israel and to the jobs they held in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, and elsewhere throughout the country. Israel was forced to close its doors to Palestinian wage earners for the sake of self-preservation. Suicide-bombings engineered by Arafat and his henchmen ended a long period of growing prosperity among Palestinian-Arabs.Carter’s deep and irrational bias against Israel is illuminated by his charges that the Palestinians-Arabs have always been ready to settle for a two-state solution and that UN Resolution 242 called upon Israel to return to the 1949 ceasefire lines. Israel, in fact, accepted the Peel Commission recommendation in 1938; it accepted the UN Partition Plan of 1947, and called for the implementation of Resolution 242 in 1967. All three were rejected by the Arab states then, and Arafat rejected the far-reaching concessions Israel Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered at Camp David II in July 2000. In each case the Arabs and Palestinians responded with terrorism. In 1937, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini, Hitler’s friend and a partner in the Final Solution of the Jewish Question, incited the Arab Revolt – terrorism a la 1936-1939. In 1947 the Palestinian Arabs rejected Partition and conspired war against the nascent Jewish State. And, in 1967, the Arab Summit in Khartoum answered Israel’s call for peace with the Three No’s: to peace, negotiation, and recognition of Israel.At Camp David II President Bill Clinton recognized Barak’s concessions of more than 95 percent of the West Bank and Gaza, in addition to territories Israel was prepared to give the Palestinians on the Negev’s border with Egypt, and East Jerusalem as the capital of Arab Palestine. Arafat rejected Barak’s offer, predicated on Arafat’s end-of-conflict declaration, much to the dismay of President Clinton. Arafat, believing Israel lacked the will or resolve to fight, launched the al-Aqsa Intifada, hoping to bring down the Jewish State. Jimmy Carter totally misread UN resolution 242 and NPR’s Terry Gross let the interview, replete with this and other inaccuracies, unfold without a word of contest. According to former British Ambassador to the UN, Lord Caradon, who introduced the resolution to the Council, “It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial.” Arthur Goldberg, U.S. Ambassador to the UN at the time stated that, “The notable omissions – which were not accidental – in regards to withdrawal are the words “the” or “all” and the June 1967 lines…the resolution speaks of withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of the withdrawal.” The resolution is steadfastly clear in its call for the Palestinians to make peace with Israel. When Egypt and Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel they received all the territories demanded. The Palestinian Arabs insist today, as yesteryear, on “all” of Palestine or “none.” They prefer to destroy the Jewish State rather than legitimately come to a peaceful resolution with Israel. For the Palestinians today it is about a religious war – Jihad against the infidels – and not a territorial claim. Carter has yet to discover that calls for Jihad are not comparable to Sunday school teachings of love and tolerance in the Bible belt or in Plains, Georgia.

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