Losing His Religion
In an opinion piece titled “Losing My Religion for Equality” published July 15th in Australia's The Age, former president Jimmy Carter writes he has severed ties, after six decades, with the Southern Baptist Convention, in honor of women’s rights and equality. Citing the reason for his “painful and difficult” decision came when convention leaders dictated “that women must be ‘subservient’ to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.”
The view that women are inferior to men, according to the former president, is not limited to just one religion but affects women of all faiths around the world. He cites inequalities against women to include limiting employment, education and healthcare opportunities, as well as the more physical or violent abuse towards women. Carter sees old outdated religious beliefs contributing to the injustice against females around the world.
“We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices,” writes Carter.
Carter along with other members of The Elders, a group of global leaders united by former South African President Nelson Mandela, recently issued a statement that challenges the former views and practices by declaring: "The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."
Carter continues, “We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained,” inviting global leaders to have the courage to uphold the messages of dignity and equality inherent in all religions.
As religious leaders have the right to interpret scriptures as they see fit, Carter says he challenges today’s leaders to set aside personal or political gains and end the justification of the persecution against women around the world.
Image: "Our Lady of Peace" by angelofsweetbitter2009 on Flickr courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing.
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