“Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is.” MK Gandhi
I read an essay yesterday that made me cry. “Losing my Religion for Equality,” was published on July 15, 2009 in the National Review. The fact of its publication received little press. An opinion piece about the article appeared in the UK Observer and a reference to the Observer’s reporting was mentioned by CBS. But no significant mainstream U.S. coverage was afforded this historically important declaration of personal choice and integrity. The man who wrote the article was familiar to me; his worn, but still handsome face is well-known by admirers worldwide.
Jimmy Carter, President of the United States from 1977 to 1981, had been a deacon and a bible instructor in his Church. This globally-respected, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, broke tradition and what had been until then, a very personal commitment, by renouncing his boyhood religion. At the age of 84, President Carter formally disassociated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Baptist teachings have always been and remain at odds with Carter’s personal philosophy—that women are men’s equal. Carter, together with a group of like-minded Elders, proclaimed: “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.”
Carter is not alone in this effort. He describes those behind the goal as a group of elders, global leaders, religious and political, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who advocate human rights, including the right of half the world to equal treatment under the law, whether religious or secular. Carter’s essay explains that he severed his affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention because it refused to ordain women to the ministry and because it continued to teach that, per Eve’s original sin, wives should be subservient to their husbands. With the following statement, President Carter articulately identifies specific acts of female oppression, endemic throughout world history.
“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.”
Carter goes on to clarify how this pretextual oppression, done in the name of the Almighty, has had a centuries-long global influence over both the civil and criminal laws of all nations. “Male religious leaders 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.”
I wanted to refresh my recollection about the important contributions that President Carter had made to this country. I looked him up on Wikipedia. I found nothing about his 2009 decision to leave the Baptist Church. Although there are several paragraphs on his Wikipedia biography under ‘Faith Family and Community,’ no mention is made of Carter’s decision to abandon his faith in 2009.
Last year approximately 1,100 pieces of GOP-sponsored legislation proscribing women’s rights were introduced in various state legislatures and in the federal congressional houses. Legislation sponsored by Senator Roy Blunt of Ohio, proposed a mandatory, intrusive, vaginal ultrasound probe as a precondition to abortion. Other proposed legislation aimed to further circumscribe a woman’s right to privacy as set forth under Roe v. Wade and/or her access to contraception. The following site details the massive amount of legislation that passed in 2011 as it relates to women’s rights. http://www.politicususa.com/the-dirty-thirty-march-2012-edition/ The sheer number of bills introduced on these key constitutional issues is staggering, especially when compared to prior years.
Pundit Rush Limbaugh made horrible comments about law student Sandra Fluke’s thwarted attempts to testify in Congress against the Blunt Amendment. Dozens of advertisers pulled their ads from Limbaugh’s radio show. However, KTTH 770 AM Seattle, Washington, owned by the LDS Bonneville International Corporation, supported and even endorsed Limbaugh’s right to free speech about the matter. Notice to Rush Limbaugh: calling Sandra Fluke a ‘slut,’ is libel per se.
Thank you, President Carter, for your brave and timely decision standing up for women’s rights. We love you. Now I need to learn how to edit Wikipedia.