Friday, July 17, 2009

I heart Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter has an opinion piece in the Guardian, and it makes want to love him to pieces:

Titled The words of God do not justify cruelty to women, Carter speaks of his own struggle to release himself from the bonds of the Southern Baptist Church when they used specific verses from the Bible to ordain that women are lesser in the eyes of God.

"This was in conflict with my belief - confirmed in the holy scriptures - that we are all equal in the eyes of God."

Carter goes on, talking about religion in general as well as accepted, ingrained cultural attitudes that have the same effect and are driven by a willingness within the upper echelon of all religious groups to maintain this status quo:

"This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. It is widespread... 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."

"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."
(emphasis mine)

He goes further to talk about the effects. Besides the obvious: rape, slavery, mutilation, differences in education and earning ability, Carter notes that this is a problem that affects everyone in profound ways.

"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 everyone in 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."

Carter, along with a group called the Elders including the likes of Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Muhammad Yunus, Kofi Annan, as well as Gro Brundtland, Mary Robinson, Aung San Suu Kyi, Graca Machel and Ela Bhatt, are calling for religious leadership to take a promonent role in ensuring equality and human rights.

"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 emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share."

What a great way to end the week. It's nice to go into the weekend feeling inspired and strong!

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)

Go in Peace and have a great weekend.
Julie Pickett-Hall

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