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24 July, 2009

Jimmy Carter says: stop abusing women in the name of god

By D.M. Murdock, Freethought Examiner

Last week, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter released a widely disseminated statement concerning the global mistreatment of women based on religious texts and doctrines. Mr. Carter was so disturbed by the sexism within his own church that he left it after 60 years. In his commentary, Carter quoted the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" and the Bible (Gal 3:28) to demonstrate his own integrity as concerns race, religion and gender. He then remarked:

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. It is widespread. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths... The male interpretation 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."

Carter is to be commended for having the daring—a sad statement in itself that it is "daring" to speak out on behalf of women—to take on the religious tyranny that has ruled this planet for too long. As he says, he is in a later stage of his life and as part of a mysterious group of "Elders" he has been selected to publicize this very enlightened view concerning women and religion. Further displaying this vital courage, Carter 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 wholeheartedly agree, and we thank Mr. Carter and the Elders for taking this sorely overdue step—let us hope that others will follow suit and that those individuals still engaging in misogyny and sexism, religiously based or otherwise, will feel ashamed of themselves.

"Holy Scriptures" themselves are sexist

Unfortunately, Carter's closing contention concerning the traditional establishers of the three Abrahamic religions, Christ, Paul, Moses and Muhammad, all calling for "proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God" stumbles, for, while it is diplomatic, it is certainly not true. According to the Bible, Moses was responsible for an atrocious amount of genocide, such as at Numbers 31:15-18, where, after his Israelites slaughter thousands of Midianites, Moses asks, "Have you let all the women live?" The great Jewish prophet next gives an ethnocentric reason to murder them all and then remarks:

Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves."

What this last line means, naturally, is that the Israelite warriors get to kidnap the young virgin girls and use them as sex slaves.

In the meantime, the "Prince of Peace" Jesus Christ stated he was not here to bring peace but a sword (Mt 10:34), and made other remarks that create enmity:

For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these [are] the beginnings of sorrows." (Mk 13:18)

If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple." (Lk 14:26)

Paul, of course, repeatedly made derogatory remarks about women, such as:

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. (1 Cor 11:3)

Sounding very proto-Islamic Paul follows this sexist commentary with a diatribe against women's hair and an exhortation for women praying or prophesying to cover their heads. (1 Cor 11:5ff) After these comments, Paul says that men were not created for women, but women were made for men. (1 Cor 11:8).

There's more woman-dominating speech at Ephesians 5:22-24:

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands."

At 1 Timothy 2:11-15, Paul goes on a rant that women should be quiet and submissive, because Eve ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden, dictating that all women—who are by their mere gender guilty by association—can redeem themselves by bearing children and being modest:

Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty."

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