Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I never knew much about Jimmy Carter, only that he was a Democrat who served as president from 1977 to 1981. But now, as I've recently learned (hat tip to Feministing), there's quite a lot of depth to the second-oldest living former president. He recently made a move that, if he had made it while in office it would've meant political suicide. He's - GASP! - leaving his church.
Why? According to an essay he recently wrote (read it!), he's fed up with religion being a patriarchal institution.
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.
Carter cites religion as a driving force behind sexism and misogyny. A brave move, to say the least. I wish this story received more coverage, but it has been featured on major sites like Politics Daily and Guardian.
I wish I could find an e-mail address for Jimmy Carter to send him a thanks. Does anyone have contact information for Carter or any ideas on how to thank him in other ways?