Take it from Jimmy
I sure hope that when I’m almost 90, I’m as vibrant, sharp and feisty as Jimmy Carter.
Maybe you’ve seen the former president making the rounds lately promoting his new book A Call to Action? He’s gone toe to toe with Colbert, and then I really appreciated his turn on Letterman. I’ve watched a lot of Letterman in my day, but I’d never seen an interview like the one Dave did with Carter. I mean, how often do Dave and a guest talk about topics like honor killings and forced marriages?!? I found that interview to be a powerful exposition of Carter’s core message about empowering women.
Interested, I picked up a copy of A Call to Action, and I’ve been reading it over the last week. Carter’s challenge is really to religious leaders, and it’s a call to forgo the traditional interpretation of holy books where women are portrayed as second-class citizens. Because when women are second-class, and when that status is reinforced by religion, it is all too easy for them to become victims of violence.
Here’s a bit more of Carter’s thinking:
“There is a similar system of discrimination, extending far beyond a small geographical region to the entire globe; it touches every nation, perpetuating and expanding the trafficking in human slaves, body mutilation, and even legitimized murder on a massive scale. This system is based on the presumption that men and boys are superior to women and girls, and it is supported by some male religious leaders who distort the Holy Bible, the Koran, and other sacred texts to perpetuate their claim that females are, in some basic ways, inferior to them, unqualified to serve God on equal terms. Many men disagree but remain quiet in order to enjoy the benefits of their dominant status. This false premise provides a justification for sexual discrimination in almost every realm of secular and religious life. Some men even cite this premise to justify physical punishment of women and girls.
Another factor contributing to the abuse of women and girls is an acceptance of violence, from unwarranted armed combat to the excessive and biased punishment for those who violate the law. In too many cases, we use violence as a first rather than a last resort, so that even deadly violence has become commonplace.
My own religious experiences and the testimony of courageous women from all regions and all major religions have made it clear to me that as a result of these two factors there is a pervasive denial of equal rights to women, more than half of all human beings, and this discrimination results in tangible harm to all of us, male and female.”
When you’re challenging Tertullian, it’s nice to have a former president on your side.