Former President Jimmy Carter issued a statement Sunday announcing he is severing all ties with the Southern Baptist Church due to their treatment of women. A devout Southern Baptist for more than sixty years, Carter left the church in 2000 because of ideologically differences where the religion justifies the subordination of women. His announcement comes after the Elders, a group of world leaders with which Carter is affiliated, released a statement on the issue of discrimination against women and girls by religion. In his statement, Carter calls "on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women."
Carter sees women's inferior position within religion as a problem among many faiths. He wrote that , "the male interpretations of religious texts and the way they interact with, and reinforce, traditional practices justify some of the most pervasive, persistent, flagrant and damaging examples of human rights abuses." He also says that religion justifies male superiority and promotes "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...[and] 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 says that it is time to challenge the Southern Baptist Church's views on women because "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."
Media Resources: Sunday Observer UK 7/12/09; The Elders 7/2/09