Losing my religion for Equality by Jimmy Carter

I truly respect this compassionate, noble man …. a true leader in our world society, he wrote the below I think in 2009 … speaking about equality not only for all people, but genders as well. Please read this.

 

JImmy Carter (Picture from Getty Images)

Losing My Religion for Equality
written by America’s 39th President Jimmy Carter.

“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 view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief.
Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths.
Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church,
mosque, synagogue or temple. 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.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be
subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced
prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a
crime.
But it also costs many millions of girls and women
control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair
access to education, health, employment and influence within their own
communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our
lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before
girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many
face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because
their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements,
punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of
education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a
job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender
gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West.
The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is
felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us.
The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major
benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is
more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she
earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against
half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and
outdated attitudes and practices – as we are seeing in Iran where women
are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.
I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant
about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are
powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I,
who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about
winning votes or avoiding controversy – and we are deeply committed to
challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders,
brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who
offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help
address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests
of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the
responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality
and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares:

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 are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful
teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify
discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all
religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasize the positive
messages of dignity and equality that all the world’s major faiths
share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to
justify the superiority of men, owe more to time and place – and the
determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence – than
eternal truths.
Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in
which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the
early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops,
apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that
dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy
Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious
hierarchy.

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.

Thank you for reading this ….

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