It had been quite some time since former President Jimmy Carter had appeared in public making some of us wonder where he was, what he was doing and what he was thinking. On Friday, June 28,2013, former President Carter opened a conference called “Mobilizing Faith for Women” at the Carter Center in Atlanta, GA. According to The Washington Times, the former President indicated “religious leaders, including those in Christianity and Islam, share the blame for mistreatment of women across the world.”
According to the Blaze:
He said women are treated as inferior in some regard the world-over, apparently citing unequal pay in the United States as an example.
“The root cause of it is two-fold,” Carter said. “The major religions preach women are inferior to men, and the other thing is just the general condonement of violence in society. The U.S. is one of the prime examples of constant war.”
The former president says the religious doctrines contribute to a political, social and economic structure where political leaders passively accept domestic violence against women, sexual trafficking, and inequality in the workplace and classroom.
However, he cited positive changes in countries like Tunisia, where he said people are beginning to realize it is “morally wrong” and “detrimental to the country’s economic progress” to omit women from large segments of society.
He said the way the Islamic faith is interpreted in some regimes is “very punitive” toward women, such as in Saudi Arabia, where women are banned from driving cars. The Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist political movement in Afghanistan, shows “extreme prejudice” toward women, Carter said.
Besides Carter, forum participants will include Sister Simone Campbell, who helped organize “Nuns on the Bus,” which protested budget policies seen as hurting the poor; Zainah Anwar, founder of Sisters in Islam; and Mona Rishmawi, of the United Nations human rights office.
The Huffington Post indicated a common thread, the former President said, are “gross abuses of religious texts in the Koran and in the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament. Singular verses can be extracted and extorted to assert the singular dominance of men.”
“He noted that women in Saudi Arabia can’t drive or vote. Girls in some cultures are forced to marry before they are 10 years old and women in the United States, he said, are paid about 70 percent of what men earn for the same work. Across the world, he said, prosecutions for rape are either rare or too often become a referendum on the victim,” according to the Huffington Post article.
As someone who has had the good fortune to meet the former President and First Lady, I can attest that both of them are the nicest, most pleasant down to earth individuals to speak with that have been in politics. With that said, former President Carter has been famously known for his ability to speak with any individual regardless of their educational level, socioeconomic status, religious or political affiliation. However, in his humanitarian effort to champion the “mistreatment” of women, the former President has over-simplified the plight of some women in the world.
Where does one begin on this one? First, one cannot equate unequal pay for women and some Christian religious denominations excluding women from the ministry anywhere close to being on the same level of “mistreatment” of women by Islam. Next, it is unfair to say the US is a prime example of constant war on the issue. All one has to do is look at the newspaper or internet media sites to view the constant demeaning of women, killing of women and mutilation of young girls perpetrated by the Islamic world in the Middle East to see a prime example of constant war. Women are brutally raped, stoned, mutilated, enslaved and imprisoned in the name of Islam because of Sharia law.
Violent crime against women and inequitable pay for women does occur in the United States and is something we combat; however, President Carter asserts that major Christian religions preach the inferiority of women contributing to the issue and violence against women is passively condoned or accepted by Christian religious leaders. While certain denominations may not allow women to hold deacon positions in the church or be a minister, there is a difference between maintaining a man-made societal discrimination against women in those roles and actually preaching from the pulpit. Was it not Christ who first revealed himself to a woman who was drawing water from the well at mid-day? Was it not Christ who revealed himself resurrected to Mary Magdalene, a woman, before all others? Christ did not see women as inferior at all. The roles of men and women vary, but does not imply the label of superiority to men or inferiority to women.
The biggest problem is President Carter’s illusion with Islam and trying to downplay its oppressive, tyrannical treatment of women and compare it with that of women in the US. Calling the treatment of women under Sharia law “very punitive” and suffering “extreme prejudice” is certainly an understatement. Islam does preach the inferiority and subservience of women and does not only condone, but promotes, violence against women. The inability to obtain a driver’s license or drive in an Islamic state should be the least concern; the biggest should be the massive human rights violations that occur against women, young girls and infants in the name of Islam.
President Carter, in trying to promote better treatment of women, is being all too politically correct. Let’s call things as they are and not sugar-coat the issues for the liberal Kool-Aid drinkers. It does not help women who need relief from atrocities for a former political leader to smooth over the issues and downplay the reality. While the problems in America for women are important, the real threat is Sharia law. By continuing to be politically correct and use a blanketing statement for all major religions, it gives a false impression of the treatment women receive under Sharia as little more than “extreme prejudice.”