In 2000, Carter and his wife Rosalynn publicly distanced themselves from the Southern Baptist Convention, of which Carter had been a member for 65 years. At the time, he criticized the SBC’s “increasingly rigid creed” and said their policies – including a denominational statement instructing wives to be submissive to their husbands – violated the premises of his Christian faith.
He is still a practicing Christian, and acts as a deacon and a Sunday School teacher. His article in The Observer is powerful, it’s beautiful, and it’s brave.
This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. It is widespread. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths.
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. 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.
Women’s rights are human rights. It’s amazing to read this in a mainstream publication, along with a denouncement of “tradition” as justification for oppression.
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.
Amen. I respect Carter for letting his conscious guide him on his spiritual journey. I find it a bit problematic that he cites Biblical references to equality but admits that other passages espouse slavery and female subjugation. All that tells me is that the Bible, at least, is contradictory. Nonetheless, Carter’s commitment to equality is inspiring. Thank you, Jimmy Carter!