Jimmy Carter Leaves Southern Baptist Church for “Repugnant” Sexism
July 20, 2009
(ChattahBox)—Former President and Nobel Prize Winner Jimmy Carter, has decided he can no longer stomach the pervasive discrimination against women that is ingrained in the religious beliefs of the Southern Baptist Church. Carter took the unusual step this past week of issuing a formal statement completely severing all ties to the church where he worshipped for over 60 years.
Jimmy Carter and his wife Roselyn had taken steps to publicly distance themselves from the Southern Baptist Church some years ago, in response to racial insensitivities and other forms of discrimination. However, Carter continued to serve as a Deacon and teach Sunday School at his hometown place of worship, the Maranatha Baptist in Plains, Georgia.
Carter is involved in the group the New Baptist Covenant, which seeks to join all branches of the greater Baptist Church to bring black and white worshipers together under one tent.
In his statement, Carter wages a direct assault on the sexism of the Southern Baptist Church by stating, “Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.”
Carter declares that discrimination against women not only violates basic human rights, but goes against “…the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions.”
He places the blame for the worldwide abuse of women directly at the feet of male religious leaders who promote discrimination “…for their own selfish ends,” providing religious “justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world.”
“At their 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,” wrote Carter.
Carter goes on to describe how sexual discrimination negatively pervades every aspect of our lives, with many countries denying women education, basic health care and the right to choose their own husbands.
He described his denouncing of church teachings “…as 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.”
Jimmy Carter’s public position against sexism as a respected male leader, and long-time worshiper of the Southern Baptist Church, should go a long way to change the direction of religious discourse towards women.
Carter’s entire statement can be found here.