Former President Jimmy Carter Stands Strong for EqualityApril 29, 2015 by Reverend Lauren
A former president had to resign from his faith organization after decades of membership, over a disagreement on the group’s views of women. Wage inequality that persists between women and men in the American workforce, and other mistreatment of women in diverse ways, all may have roots that go deep into the politics and prejudices of the society.
Call to Action
The busy former president has a new book that came out in 2014, titled A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power. The author of 28 previous works, his new volume takes on difficult subjects that arise in societies throughout the world on a regular basis.
Carter wrote an open letter in 2009 explaining how he reluctantly resigned his membership in the Southern Baptist Convention after 60 years, over their interpretation of Eve in the Book of Genesis and how it relates to current treatment of women. The form president explains that the group’s reading of the bible takes verses out of context to make Eve responsible for original sin, and hence provide the “reason” why women are to be subservient to men. “This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a higher authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries,” he noted in his resignation letter.
Listen to the Elders
The former president joins other world leaders in a group called “The Elders” that approaches international issues from the perspective of world leaders who have had some time away from the pressures of office. The group, founded by the late Nelson Mandela, issued a statement that made clear that any “justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if prescribed by a higher authority, is unacceptable.”
The former president affirms that it is within the power of society to put an end to the mistreatment of women. Throughout the world, male religious leadership have choices in how they will interpret and teach their traditions and scriptural teachings. They can focus on justifications for dominance of women in their views of holy teachings, or they can find the teachings and the passages in the scriptures that exalt and praise women and hold them as examples of leadership and wisdom.
Founding the Carter Center in 1982, just a year after leaving office, Jimmy Carter has been an activist and a devout Christian since leaving public office. Known for his decades of work with a group that is devoted to building homes, he has led with a positive attitude and an example of service for 35 years since retiring from active politics.
Closing The Gap
While some dispute the facts and statistics that show that women make, on average, just 78 cents for every dollar a man earns for similar work, the truth of a gender-based wage gap is hard to dispute in America. Other wage inequality deniers point to career choices that may harm future job prospects, which women may have some control over: when or whether to take maternity leave, decisions to pursue higher education in higher paying fields, or even a perceived extra aggressiveness or ambition men may have in their careers.
The reasons behind the wage gap are complex, and it may be difficult to quantify with certainty the exact amount of the gap across the entire economy, but the realities underlying the truth of wage inequality deserve attention. Prejudices in early education for boys in math and science, and biases about girls who some deem to be “bossy,” may be factors in early development prior to employment years. Family leave and employee-friendly policies must let companies encourage workers to be productive and have healthy personal lives, which can help mothers to improve the balance between family and work.
Seeing Subtle Discrimination
In his work to point out the deep social roots of sexism and mistreatment of women and girls in many modern societies, a former president continues to lead. While awareness of inequalities is leading to improvements in some places, more work is needed to create a society where all people are truly equal as children of the same universe.
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