Losing My Religion for Equality…by Jimmy Carter

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practicing Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. 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.

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.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. 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 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.

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 understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy – and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: “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.”

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.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place – and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence – than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

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. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

OBSERVER

Jimmy Carter was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981.

Copyright © 2013 Fairfax Media

Via: Women’s Press

Advertisements

WAR ~ We Don’t Need No More Trouble…

“What we need is love to guide us and protect us on…”

War on the outside, war on the inside, war on the street, war in the home, war on the playgrounds, war on the continents; war in the heart, war in the spirit, war in the body, war in the mind. War is waring, war is wearying, war is worrying. War is the robber and thief, war is no respecter of anything animal, vegetable or mineral. War is ego unleashed, war is greed, war is taking. One step in greed is one step into war. All genocide is war. All prejudice is war. All hatred is war.

Tend to the war within, in the everyday conflicts which exist within the human condition. All human emotion and desires if left unchecked and mindless contain the seeds of war, for a war within maybe a tide which goes out… and “we don’t need no more trouble”; I don’t need no more trouble.

Take a pledge to be mindful of the war within and tend to the tides which hold potential to breach shores of trouble… duality, greed, ego, comparison, covetousness… Look to oneself, not our governments to stop war by not taking up arms against oneself or another. Practice right speech, right action, right thoughts which serve the fullness of love, forgiveness and kindness. Agree to disagree, allow confusion, distrust and uncertainty without having to take action against it. Do not force resolution. Find your peace within and let its seed take root and foster in the fertile soil of ONE HEART. Look to oneself in Divine connection/correction and send out flowers of great beauty to lay at the feet of one’s enemies, even if they be our own.

“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Matthew 7:3

Playing For Change

Color Me Kindness

A compassionate woman extended a beautiful act of kindness towards myself and my husband last night. I was so thankful and filled with gratitude I did a little dance of joy around my kitchen table. Everyday miracles, answers to prayer are extended through kindness everyday, all day from one being to another. Most come in a simple form, for kindness is a humble sharing. Some come in big bold packages for that is the vehicle it arrives in, nonetheless, the giving and receiving end of the gift of kindness leaves its mark upon us. It opens up our hearts and allows the blossoms of love, generosity, and compassion to fill our cup. It is a grand running over as we are filled to the brim. When we extend kindness it is not bound by linear action, it moves forward, backward, sideways, up and below. It moves through, around, beyond. Kindness can be given where there is love or no love, forgiveness or not, anger or peace. It can be present at all times and in all circumstances. Kindness is an endless grace which softens the hardest of hearts, healing in the gentle sweep of its extension; innocence and purity personified. It is truly a hallelujah moment. Sharing kindness brings a gift to others and ourselves, as the old adage is true “In the giving is the receiving”. Pay it forward 🙂