While it may seem harsh that Jimmy Carter blames religious leaders for mistreatment of women across the world, blame needs to be allocated amongst those who carry the power – blame for complicity, whether it’s active or passive.
Through discerning the times, leadership has the potential for prophetic leadership, to provide new direction guided by compassion and justice, to reflect on the best way to prepare membership for change. If that opportunity is not taken up then leadership becomes part of the problem.
NewsATLANTA — Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter says religious leaders, including those in Christianity and Islam, share the blame for mistreatment of women across the world.The human rights activist said Friday religious authorities perpetuate misguided doctrines of male superiority, from the Catholic Church forbidding women from becoming priests to some African cultures mutilating the genitals of young girls.Carter said the doctrines, which he described as theologically indefensible, contribute to a political, social and economic structure where political leaders passively accept violence against women, a worldwide sex slave trade and inequality in the workplace and classroom.
Half the Sky is a sober reminder of the brutal treatment of women and girls all around the world – a highly recommended read!
Times have changed. Just a few decades ago women in the LCA were treated as children. They could serve in no public way (Sunday School seemed to be acceptable), could take no representative role, nor could they take any role of leadership.
Before 1966 women experienced virtually total inequality in the Church, even though all members presumably would have accepted that “in Christ there is no East nor West.”
Note how recently women were granted various responsibilities in the LCA (a post from this blog)
- 1966 voting at congregational meetings
- 1981 being delegates at Synod
- 1984 being a member of church boards and committees
- 1984 included in the guidelines for reading lessons in worship
- 1989 assisting in the distributing of Holy Communion
- 1990 being lay assistant as an alternative to elder
- 1990 being chairperson of a congregation
- 1998 being synodical chairperson
- 2003 lay-reading
Times have changed but women are still denied full inclusion.
The doctrine of the LCA has contributed to a political and social structure where presidents have passively accepted the inequality of women. This is ironic in a system that values education so deeply and where girls are clearly taught, through Bible study and role-modelling, that they are equal in all ways with boys. One cannot educate the young with values of equality and integrity and honestly expect them to fore-go their equality and calling later in life.
We suggest that religious leaders at all levels carry blame for the decades since union it has taken to recognise women thus far. There will need to be a time of apology to women. The LCA will need to apologise, living emeritus presidents will need to apologise and congregations will need to apologise for having ignored women for so long.
The couple recently disassociated from Southern Baptists, citing its prohibition on ordaining women or allowing them to serve as deacons or in other leadership posts in local congregations. Ref
- Carter blames women’s plight on religion (bigpondnews.com)
- Carter: World religions perpetuate women’s plight (onlineathens.com)
- Jimmy Carter says religion harms women (examiner.com)