• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Jimmy Carter Quits Baptists (Again)

Former President Jimmy Carter quit the Southern Baptist Convention more than eight years ago because of its refusal to ordain women as pastors (rather odd, since the policy had been in place since the early seventeenth century origins of the Baptist faith based on the example of another follow with the initials J.C.).   To make sure people noticed — since he had long stopped having anything to do with the SBC — he sent out 75,000 letters.

Over the weekend, Carter apparently reckoned people forgot about this (and, I must confess, I had) he up and quit again, this time via op-eds in The Guardian and The Age. (The latter was published a week ago but, owing to the confluence of the International Date Line and a lot of famous celebrities dying, nobody in the United States noticed until yesterday.)

But I digress.  I bring this up not because I much care about Carter’s religion, having neither a dog in the fight nor interest sufficient to warrant exchanging a rodent’s hindquarters for his views on the subject, but rather because of the extraordinarily bizarre explanation given.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

Now, I can’t vouch for Plains, Georgia.  But I’ve lived in plenty of communities where Southern Baptists predominated.  In all of them, prostitution and rape were against the law.  Girls went to school and the doctor.  Women had jobs and influence.  So far as I know, their genitals were intact.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

But these aren’t countries run by Southern Baptists.  In rural Alabama and Mississippi, girls start and finish school at the same age as boys. Young women now outnumber young men in our colleges and universities.  Arranged marriages have never been part of our culture.  To the extent “their basic health needs are not met,” it’s because of poverty, not religious dogma.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

In Southern Baptist towns in the United States, women show a hell of a lot more than their arms and ankles. They’re required to go to school up to age 16 and are strongly encouraged to graduate high school and go on to college.  Women work outside the home at tremendous rate.  Rape is abhorred and the rapist is severely punished, often in extracurricular fashion.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

A goodly number of Western countries (although, granted, none with large Southern Baptist populations) have women prime ministers and presidents.  In the United States, including the South, women governors, senators, and other high office holders were quite common long before Carter quit the Convention (the first time).  We’ve had three female Secretaries of State, a woman National Security Advisor, a woman Attorney General, a woman Secretary of Homeland Security.  We’ve had two women as vice presidential nominees and one who came close to getting a major party presidential nod.   Sarah Palin, despite rather little experience or demonstrated expertise, seems to be the enthusiastic favorite for the Republican presidential nomination among Southern Baptists.

There are plenty of reasons to pick nits with the Southern Baptists.  But the depredations of radical Islam are not among them.

Baptist photo by Flickr users djking under Creative Commons license.

Related Posts:

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. odograph says:

    It’s pretty simple, James. He’s saying that if you say women are inferior in the sight of God, you are somewhere down that slope.

    You may think that denying ordination is not genital mutilation, but he might be right that they vary only in degree.

    (I’m not an active churchgoer now, and am old enough to have been a little unsettled by the first female Lutheran minister I saw (Denmark was a little ahead of us?), but I think that was just (mostly) what I perceived as tradition. There’s no good reason that women “can’t” minister.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. odograph says:

    BTW, I’m still cross-reading this post (Conservatism Is Dead). It does lead me to parallels here with your focus.

    We can ask why Jimmy is grandstanding, but we can also ask why James is pushing back. Is there mileage in defending some line that women cannot cross? Is non-ordination a conservative value?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. just me says:

    Look like Jimmy wanted some attention-he was feeling ignored.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. G.A.Phillips says:

    (I’m not an active churchgoer now, and am old enough to have been a little unsettled by the first female Lutheran minister I saw (Denmark was a little ahead of us?), but I think that was just (mostly) what I perceived as tradition. There’s no good reason that women “can’t” minister.)

    Well in the bible it says you must first be the head of your household, and the head of your family, and I’m pretty sure he is talking about a man, but God has put women in charge of nations when the men were to week in their faith to rule.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. PD Shaw says:

    I agree with Odograph, genital mutilation is sort of like having all women’s college dorms or separate bathrooms.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. ptfe says:

    Hm. Several papers are reporting that he’s “leaving the Southern Baptist Convention”, but the op-eds don’t state that he is leaving, but outline reasons why he decided to sever his ties after six decades. By the reckoning of his original decision, he was 65 years into being a Southern Baptist at the time he ditched. Which is to say, he’s reiterating the reasons he ditched the Convention in the first place and drawing a broader picture.

    The entire point of the op-ed is to show that the reasons he left the SBC had to do with women’s rights, and the problems he saw in the SBC culture back then are much more deep-rooted than just in that church.

    This is apparent very early in the piece:

    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.

    Reading comprehension. Perhaps he should have asked that The Guardian use a bold typeface?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. odograph says:

    I agree with Odograph, genital mutilation is sort of like having all women’s college dorms or separate bathrooms.

    PD, that’s the kind of post that is so weak, I can only love it.

    If your answer to me is that denying a choice is the same as allowing a choice, you are showing how deep you have to dig to find anything at all to say.

    (I believe colleges that have co-ed dorms offer them as a choice … but I think co-ed bathrooms only exist on canceled TV shows.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. odograph says:

    BTW, as PD compares this to “all women’s college dorms or separate bathrooms,” there are actually splinter Mormons out in Utah, trading girls as we speak. I’m sure conservatives don’t endorse that, but let’s recognize that the framework (ordained ministers and heads of household) is in play.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. PD Shaw says:

    While it’s true that I am a man, I, like many American men, did have my genitals mutilated when I was born. Because of this I can recognize that excluding women from combat roles is a sort of preemptive mutilation of genitalia — it prevents them from risking their own genitals and thus denying them from their full and equal opportunity. If I were ever President, I would make such public policy discrimination the centerpiece of my administration — since it does involve public policy. If I were a churchgoer, I would just join a different church and shut up about it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. ac halle says:

    Well,whack job is as whack job does.
    End.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. [...] Joyner pretty much has the ultimate takedown on Jimmy Carter’s recent reaffirmation that he has “left” the Southern Baptist [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Drew says:

    Can you spot the looney?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Boyd says:

    If the refusal to ordain women is on the same slippery slope as genital mutilation and the failure to criminalize rape, it must be one hell of a shallow slope. They’ve held that position for over 200 years, and women in the SBC don’t seem to be any closer to the bottom of that slope than when the denomination started.

    In fact, one could reasonably argue that they’ve slid up the slope away from those sexist depredations. But that wouldn’t fit President Carter’s desired theme, nor that of his fanbois here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. JKB says:

    Carter has gone completely off his rocker even trying to compare Southern Baptist to Islam. The man has been a loon for 30 years but now he’s flown the coop.

    I grew up in what I’d call the buckle of the Bible Belt and I attended a Southern Baptist Christian School for my middle school years. I attended classes right along with girls, sat right next to them, competed with them for attention. Never once was taught to treat girls as anything but equals. I learned the fine art of lust by watching the cheerleaders jump about although they did have skirts to their knees. Or we can consider my elderly aunt who has never hesitated to tell her preacher or anyone else in her Southern Baptist churches when she thought they were wrong in some area of scripture or church operation. She has never been stoned or assaulted or ostracized. And she started as a girl-child speaking out against what was really a cult her mother attended.

    For Carter to try to equate Southern Baptists not having female preachers with the rape, murder, mutilation and subjugation of women by Islam is beyond pale and shows the rot post-modernism has done to his mind.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Furhead says:

    Well, the Bible does say some silly things in the Old Testament that are even more extreme than current practices in the Islamic world. But most Christians including the Southern Baptists have become a bit more civilized and tend to ignore those parts of the Bible (or offer convoluted reasons why those parts don’t count, except for the anti-gay passages!).

    While most of us agree that more equality is good, Carter is just barking up the wrong tree here and making himself and in fact his whole side look ridiculous. I don’t agree with odograph’s slippery slope argument – just because the SBC isn’t ordaining females or whatever, doesn’t mean they’re going to start mutilating genitals tomorrow. If anything, they’ve been moving in the right direction over the years, just not as fast as Carter would like.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. And every OTB blog post leads down the slippery slope of multiple inane comments by odograph who apparently must automatically gainsay anything and everything.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. s in severn says:

    At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

    Gee, the only religion that “teaches” this is that “religion of Peace” one. You know, the one that is it the surest way to their “eternal reward” is to kill yourself along with an “unbeliever” or two thousand.

    SBC and Islam?? No connection. I think we have another former President with dementia.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. odograph says:

    Well there’s no denying that western churches have climbed much of that slope – and probably most of us expect more deominations to ordinate women 50 or 100 years from now.

    Carter is just doing a bit, suggesting how it relates.

    But if Carter was trolling, I think conservatives were foolish to rise to the bait. There is no mileage in it for them, especially in a diverse America,

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. odograph says:

    “ordinate” … Heh, pecking on the phone distracts me from what i’m pecking

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. pylon says:

    Here I thought (from actually reading the article) that Carter’s op-ed was written about all organized religion, and at the behest of the Elders. Now I find out it is only a reiteration of his reasons for quitting the SBC. Thanks for clearing that up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. floyd says:

    Many with strong opinions can’t even define terms.
    “Pastor” is only one of five “ministries”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. In the vein of Carter quitting the Southern Baptist, I hereby quit the communist party (not that I am a member, but hey, it isn’t slowing Jimmy down). State control of the economic resources has lead to millions of deaths by starvation and execution. Now going with odograph’s slippery slope, it should be obvious that Obama, in seeking state control of economic resources, is thus guilty of tens of millions of deaths by starvation and execution, but of course he is hiding the mass graves.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Just another thought, if you read through his list of issues, shouldn’t Carter be quitting Islam?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. RW Rogers says:

    If Carter really believes these things, shouldn’t he be returning the millions paid to him and his non-profit by the Saudis?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. [...] Outside the Beltway) Comments [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. Our Paul says:

    What gives with the Center Right’s persistent need to place a dunces cap on Jimmy Carter? Didn’t anybody ever tell these political savants that when you point a finger at somebody, you have three fingers pointing back at you?

    Jimmy Carter is a widely respected political force through out the World, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2002. More than any other American, he is identified at the center of the Human Rights movement. Indeed, the first paragraph of his editorial in the Guardian directly refers to Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    The Guardian is perhaps Center Left, but a newspaper of stature. You can find it in practically all European Public Libraries and stands in contrast to our own clearly Center Right International Herald Tribune (A rather weak offering, despite its connections to the New York Times). There reasons why Jimmy Carter chose the Guardian at one pole and an Australian paper at the other pole, but I will leave those to others to comment on.

    At the risk of offending, the editorial had squat to do with the Southern Baptist Convention or James Joyner’s beloved South, and everything to do with the unequal status of women, and how religious beliefs degrade their humanity. He is after all writing as a spokesperson for the <a href=”http://abcnews.go.com/International/TenW

    ays/story?id=3389067&page=1″>Elders, to wit:
    I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive area to challenge.

    But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy – and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it. (My italics, OP)

    In the Editorial, he not only identifies the primitive impositions that religion places on women, but also persistent cultural imposition in the United States, and England. To wit:

    The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in Britain and the United States. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day.

    As my pappy used to say: “Just because you read it, doesn’t mean you understand it”…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. Our Paul says:

    My bad link. Information on the Elders can be found here:

    http://www.theelders.org/elders/

    http://abcnews.go.com/International/TenWays/story?id=3389067&page=1

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. McGehee says:

    Jimmy Carter? And I thought my opinions were overpriced.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. Cris Melo says:

    “because of its refusal to ordain women as pastors (rather odd, since the policy had been in place since the early seventeenth century origins of the Baptist faith based”

    Precisely! How does your foot taste? Why don’t you go back in time and stay there?

    “The latter was published a week ago but, owing to the confluence of the International Date Line and a lot of famous celebrities dying, nobody in the United States noticed until yesterday”

    You forgot slime arse conservative wife cheater politicians in that confluence. Yes, the world is full of news. What’s wrong with plugging in something as important as Carter fighting hypocrisy?

    “But I’ve lived in plenty of communities where Southern Baptists predominated.  In all of them, prostitution and rape were against the law.  Girls went to school and the doctor. Women had jobs and influence.  So far as I know, their genitals were intact.”

    Sounds like if you are gonna link Southern Baptist’s influence on women being rightfully treated as human beings, then you should pack your bags, grab some Southern Baptists, and you all should go do some serious work overseas in the many places where 17th century laws are still being followed.

    You are missing the whole point of Carter’s explanation. But then again, I wouldn’t expect anything less from you. And I don’t even know you more than from reading this stupid post of yours. It might be because you are block head. Now go ask a redneck what that means, if you don’t know. Oh, your poor daughter…

    “Sarah Palin, despite rather little experience or demonstrated expertise, seems to be the enthusiastic favorite for the Republican presidential nomination among Southern Baptists.”

    I think you just put the cherry on top. I’m not surprised but rather glad that an intelligent and kind man as Carter is finally see the light! Good luck with your Palin for president campaign. I can tell you now what the result of that trial will be. And I’m not even psychic. LOL

    One last comment: interesting choice of photos you picked for this article. Your wife should watch out. What a perv.

    Now…publish this if you have the testies. And please get off the Internets.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. Cris Melo says:

    Just to prove my previous point: Click on the file name for the second pic and what do you get? “sexy-baptists.jpg”

    Nice choice, mr. married conservative with a young daughter. Wink, wink! You all never surprise moi. ;)

    And I don’t know about Creative Commons in much depth but I know those pics are not to be used in commercial web sites. This is a commercial site, right? I see Google ads, advertisement, etc, all over the place. Did you overlook that little detail in your haste to use sexy pics of Baptist women?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. Crust says:

    There are plenty of reasons to pick nits with the Southern Baptists. But the depredations of radical Islam are not among them.

    James, you seem to be having troubles with reading comprehension again. In case you didn’t notice, the title of the piece is “The words of God do not justify cruelty to women” not “Why I left the Southern Baptist Convention”. Only the fourth paragraph is about the latter. Here are his complaints about the Baptists:

    [T]he convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service. This was in conflict with my belief – confirmed in the holy scriptures – that we are all equal in the eyes of God.

    Shockingly, he holds the Baptists responsible for their own views and radical Muslims responsible for their own views.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. Cris Melo says:

    Good point, Crust. Amazing how people are so tempted to distort things to fit their own bias, including the crowd that follows the lead.

    And let me get out of this place now. It smells bad.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. Jenny says:

    “The latter was published a week ago but, owing to the confluence of the International Date Line and a lot of famous celebrities dying, nobody in the United States noticed until yesterday.”

    FYI- nobody noticed in Australia, ever!!.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  34. McGehee says:

    Lucky Australians.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. Our Paul says:

    Hang in there James, Chris Mello (July 21, 2009 | 05:18 pm), does not list OTB among her favorite blogs, thus her intrusion, and her inability to advance the conversation may just be a transient event. But, if she does come back, there is hope for all of us… To wit, from her July 17th blog post:

    I’ve dreamed a couple of times, very vividly, of my house being ultimately a mirror of my creative soul, the strong creative urge I feel inside that is blocked from coming out by various life kinks and fears I still have (but am I’m working on).

    Lets all of us offer up a prayer that her creative urges get unblocked, and that her liberated soul will find peace and gratification in her art. Perhaps then her narcissistic spell may be over, and she will spell the male dangling parts correctly…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  36. Cris Melo says:

    Dearest McGehee,

    I know how to spell balls correctly, unlike your spell of my name. :P

    Thanks for the free, extra advertising of my blog! For you to deduct that I am narcissistic from reading ONE post in my blog (and quoting it here out of context, just like the biased quotations in this OP) shows me, once more, that you ultra conservatives and religious freaks have no argument. None.

    I’ve seen it over and over. All you can do is to attack, and the attacks are so silly that they cause me (and everyone else) to laugh at ya. And you have been laughed at since you brought Palin in the picture, and the laughing won’t stop.

    Enjoy your demise. :D

    No, I am not a frequent visitor of this place. I only felt forced to come here to leave a piece of my mind. I had seen a reference to this “article” in another web site and it was lacking sense, so I thought I’d pay a visit and share my thoughts.

    You have no need to wish me any “liberation”. I’ve been liberated since I noticed, as a kid, the trap that religion represents. Have a happy after life, if you find out there is one. If there isn’t one, I guess you will be at a loss, won’t ya? ;)

    And please save your prayers. There’s probably no god.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. Cris Melo says:

    Ops, the previous comment is addressed to “Our Paul” – how odd to have the poster’s name at the bottom!

    I’m curious as to what this means: “her intrusion”

    WTH? Is this a private area that I should not have walked into? If so, you might want to password protect it. But oh no. It’s probably because people like you, Our Paul, cannot deal with an opposing thought, since you cannot produce a valid argument. I get it!

    “her inability to advance the conversation”

    What conversation? There hasn’t been anything addressed to me since my last post. Oh, I see. it must’a been the same after prayer dreamlike state that made you add 2 letters to my name, while professing that I can’t spell… just cuz you pro’lly don’t know that common slang for testicles.

    Take your meds, will ya, dear?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. DL says:

    Unfortuinately Jimmy won’t apply the same standards to his party which supports the slaughter of innocent babies and now supports an infanticide supporting president. It preaches the sin of envy through its Soak the rich class warfare, attacks his creator’s elvation of the family -to be replaced with the state, loathes charity unless the government controls it, etc.
    What a hypocrite -a badge of honor for a liberal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. Cris Melo says:

    DL,

    I’m glad you mentioned abortion because I’ve always wanted to ask this to you pro-lifers: what is YOUR solution to unwanted pregnancy? Bad marriages? Abusing parents? Poverty (that will get ppl in heaven faster, yes?)?

    Since you are against abortions but you also are against birth control (while fornicating behind close doors, as even priests do), what’s one left to do? Do you think that women rejoice in having abortions? Do you think they just go on having sex and getting pregnant because they can always abort? Do you think that women are not scarred by this for life but at times they have no choice?

    Are you a guy, first of all? because if you are I don’t even listen. Until you can be a woman, get pregnant and be left alone, and give birth and have to raise another human being despite all difficulties, you should shut up.

    The world as you picture should look like this: everyone acts like “octomom” – or that couple that has something like 17 or 18 or 20 kids (you must have seen them). Then, once the planet fill up and all resources we needed to live were gone, I guess the solution would be to pray for a miracle? Or should we just get on a space ship and go populate other planets and start the cycle all over?

    But see, even to get on a spaceship we need a science – that very stuff you guys don’t like but use every day, and have allowed you to read this and to post here.

    Or should we just resort to die of hunger because then we can go onto heaven where there’s plenty of space, like in Eden? But what IF…what if there’s no heaven? Then…what will we do???

    Please let me know the answer to how to solve the unwanted pregnancy issue right now. And I mean give me an argument that makes sense. Not a poster of a bloody fetus.

    Oh, the things we just repeat like parrots but don’t really THINK critically about, eh?…

    Thanks!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0