Jimmy Carter is sick of the supposed words of God being used to justify violence against and the subjugation of the world's women. And he's got a few things to say to the religious men who continue to do so.

Carter feels so strongly about this that he called it quits with the Southern Baptists after sixty years.

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 th e 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.

Carter believes — as many people do — that those who use the Bible to justify sexism, violence and oppression are cherry-picking quotes in order justify what they want to justify.

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He doesn't believe that it's limited to Baptists, though, or even Christianity but he thinks that all the religious edicts justifying the oppression of women have one thing in common: they're a transparent effort by men to maintain their own power.

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.

But why is Carter speaking out right now? Because he's part of a group called The Elders, and women's rights are a new part of their campaign.



Here they are at a recent meeting, from left to right: former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Jimmy Carter, Indian women's activist Ela Bhatt, former Irish President Mary Robinson, Anglican priest Desmond Tutu, former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Brundtland. Algerian and international diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi and women's and children's rights advocate Graca Machel. The empty chair is for Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi; microcredit pioneer Muhammad Yunus and honorary elder Nelson Mandela were, apparently, not in attendance. Their statement reads:

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Religion and tradition are a great force for peace and progress around the world.

However, as Elders, we believe that 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.

We believe that women and girls share equal rights with men and boys in all aspects of life.

We call upon all leaders to promote and protect equal rights for women and girls.

We especially call on religious and traditional leaders to set an example and change all discriminatory practices within their own religions and traditions.

The Elders are fully committed to the realisation of equality and empowerment of all women and girls.

Now if only the rest of the world were equally committed.

The Words Of God Do Not Justify Cruelty To Women [The Guardian]
Equality for Women & Girls [The Elders]