Jimmy Carter Severs Ties with Southern Baptists over Gender Equality Issues July 19, 2009

Jimmy Carter Severs Ties with Southern Baptists over Gender Equality Issues

***Update***: It’s old news. Australia’s just now catching up to the rest of the world 🙂

Former President Jimmy Carter may still be religious (despite the misleading headline in the linked piece), but he has left the Southern Baptist Convention after 60 years.

His reason: the treatment of women in his denomination and beyond.

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.

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 We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices — as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.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 find it hard to believe Carter just came to discover that religion has a habit of oppressing women. Those of us who aren’t religious have known that for quite some time.

Where was Carter on this subject for the past couple decades, when he had even more influence?

It’s a great piece, and it’s worth the read, but it may be too little too late.

(via J-Walk Blog)

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  • Richard Wade

    Everyone has their threshold for tolerating injustice, and on this issue, Jimmy finally reached his. I don’t think we should disparage him for doing too little too late. Even if he’d done it as President, in the face of thousands of years of mistreating half of humanity, it would have been too little too late at any time. Good for him! One more nail in the coffin of religion-justified sexist oppression. Where’s my hammer?

  • Ashley

    As an atheist and a feminist, reading this makes me incredibly happy, and I look forward to hearing more about Jimmy Carter and The Elders in the near future.

  • Maybe a little late but still good that he did it. I think Richard nailed it, he finally reached the point where it was too much and he realized that they weren’t going to change.

  • He actually left back in 2000, after the SBC come out with a position that women could not be in positions of authority over men.

  • freebirdiebites

    So it took him a while. And? My hat goes off to him. Just goes to show that it is never too late.

  • Veritas

    Amazing how the SBC seems to crawl further and further into the Bronze Age.

  • The idea that men were created first is based, loosely, on several mistranslations of Genesis. In the ancient Hebrew, the character that English-speakers know as “Adam” is actually a translation of a similar sounding word meaning “being of earth,” itself without gender. It is only after the creation of Eve, who is always referred to as feminine, that the “being of earth” receives male pronouns. So, actually, women as a gender, were created first according to the ancient Hebrew.

    All of this, of course, ignores the fact that there are about two and a half creation myths in Genesis alone. These stories were clearly cobbled together from different sources. In the often cited version above, the female gender is created first. In the first creation story, women and men appear to be created together on the sixth day.

    So if you are looking for an excuse to subjugate women, Genesis is probably not your best source.

  • flatlander100

    Having read Mr. Wade’s rightly reasoned and nicely put post, there is little or nothing I’d want to add.

  • My guess is that he’s been trying to change his church from the inside for a while now, and has finally given up on that.

  • SarahHToo

    Could you give me a citation for what you say about Genises? I’m not doubting it, just interested in reading more about it. Thanks!

  • littlejohn

    I voted for Jimmy Carter, and I’ve always wanted to like him, but his primitive superstitions always bothered me. This is a tiny step in the right direction, of course, but he’s still out of step with his century. He’s just too smart to believe this crap.

  • He actually left back in 2000, after the SBC come out with a position that women could not be in positions of authority over men.

    The wikipedia entry for SBC (if you trust it) says that Jimmy Cater, Al Gore, and Bill Clinton all broke ties with the SBC.

  • Pseudonym

    The SBC started as a secessionist movement. Over the years, they’ve split from every ecumenical organisation, most recently the Baptist World Council in 2004.

    I don’t know what to make of this. It seems pretty clear to me that the SBC is in a process of withdrawing from Christianity. Presumably, if you want to stay inside Christianity, the SBC has to go.

  • As backwards as you guys think the SBC is, they are NOTHING compared to the “Independent Fundamental Baptist” movement. These nutjobs broke off from the SBC because it was “too liberal.” I went to one of these independent baptist churches as a child.

    On another note, good for Jimmy.

  • Miko

    Good for him. He’s doing it for himself, not for us, so there’s no too-little-too-late about it.

    Besides, I think all of us are aware of things wrong with organizations in our lives, yet most of us don’t sever contact with them over these issues. We may not like certain actions these organizations take, but severing our connections also severs support networks, forces us to change our worldview, etc. To take the obvious example, the United States government is conducting imperialistic wars all over the world, illegally detaining people at Gitmo, and generally attacking civil liberties in any fashion it can. Plus it has nukes and is willing to use them. As bad as the SBC is on gender issues, I defy anyone to argue that its record (on any issue) is worse than that of the U.S. government. So, I’ll accept your “too little too late” arguments just as soon as you become anarchists. Until then, Jimmy’s former SBC ties are small potatoes.

  • Delphine

    People don’t always realize they’re prejudiced. My mother, until a few years ago, firmly believed AIDS virus turned people gay, and therefore, all gay people have AIDS. She’s now gay friendly and understands gay people were born with their sexuality and nothing caused them to become gay.

    Maybe Carter’s the same.

    He wrote this piece hoping Obama’s administration will pick up on it.

  • Aj

    That was painful to read. Anything bad in religion can be dismissed as misinterpretation, self-interest, or the culture of the time. Anything good however can be interpreted as from a higher authority. The worst part was when he wrote Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses, Muhammad, and various others were actually feminists. I can’t remember various ancient religious leaders from the “great” religions being particularly feminist, equality for women didn’t seem to trouble them much considering. Paul, Moses, and Muhammad, are you fucking kidding me?

  • As others have mentioned, this is old news. Here’s a New York Times article from October 2000, announcing Carter’s decision.

  • Anyone who is a teacher of the Bible will come to the same conclusion as Mr. Carter. Read the book of Joel (old testament) Read Paul’s later writings that husband and wife be subject to ONE ANOTHER, not just the wife to the husband, or vice versa. Subjugation is not Christian, in any way. Jesus was a liberal. That’s why I am a Christian. . .

  • Sackbut

    This just popped up again in my news feed; Odd, given the age of the news. Perhaps Carter wrote his essay more recently, I don’t know.

    I applaud Carter for putting aside the views of his religious organization for the sake promoting equality and fairness. I am, however, struck by the irony of his comments. He makes it clear that it is possible to interpret scripture in several different ways, yet doesn’t recognize how that makes scriptural interpretation useless for the purposes of moral guidance. He wants to promote a greater good, yet still goes back to selective readings of the bible to support his views, doing exactly the same thing as the people he is rejecting.

  • Dave

    Read the best seller “Jimmy Carter – The Liberal Left and World Chaos” by Mike Evans. It will open your eyes.
    Available at a deep discount at the link below:


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