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Jimmy Carter: Women’s Plight Perpetuated By World Religions

Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter as shown in The Huffington Post 28th June 2013

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.

via Jimmy Carter: Women’s Plight Perpetuated By World Religions.

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.

We have learnt that the personal is political – a feminist phrase during the late 60s and 70s where ‘political’ refers to any power relationship – but the spiritual is also political, for spirituality can be used to repress or lift up.  Jimmy Carter is referring to the former. It’s worth noting that Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, were once members of the Southern Baptist Church.

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

 

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Hey, mate!

Yesterday, Sunday 25th November was White Ribbon Day in Australia – a campaign to stop violence against women.

One in three Australian women have experienced physical violence from the time they turn 15 years old.

One in five will have experienced sexual violence according to these same figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

What is more, a woman living in this country is more likely to be killed in her home by her male partner than anywhere else or by anyone else.

Almost eight out of 10 female murder victims in Australia were killed by someone with whom they shared a domestic relationship.  Reference

Check out further videos in this series

Here is the pledge that Aussie men are encouraged to take:

I swear never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women. This is my oath.

This is also the pledge that those clergy, who are the hands and voice opposing women’s equality in the LCA, are encouraged to make.

At some stage in a girl’s life she becomes aware that being a pastor in the LCA is open only to her brothers. This relegation to the ranks of second-best, using the Bible as justification is spiritually abusive.  Girls are judged – without their participation – long before being born.  It’s no different to the Indian caste system – there’s no escaping, just the collusion of those with something to lose.  If you peacefully accept it and trust in good karma perhaps you’ll have a better incarnation next time.

As Christians we are not to trust in the justice of heaven, we are to live the justice of heaven.  We cannot wait.  We cannot expect women and girls to wait for some after-life reward, for that kind of piety is patronising nonsense.

There can be no excuse for violence against women and girls!  It’s that simple!  If you are using Scripture to justify your violence, then you have a choice: 1. discard Scripture or 2. reconsider your interpretation of Scripture.  No, there is a third option, discard your religion, for that is a better choice than using it to oppress your sisters.  Sacrilegious?  Not at all!  Using religion to justify violence is the sacrilege.

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Posted by on November 25, 2012 in sociology, theology, women's ordination

 

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