The former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, has written an opinion piece entitled “Losing my religion for equality”. In it he clearly describes how “women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.” He goes on to say that 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”. Not only that it has been used to excuse rape, slavery, violence, forced prostitution and genital mutilation, along with depriving women of control over their own bodies and lives. He acknowledges that the root of this discrimination is deeply embedded in our history and is detrimental to not just women but to the whole of society that permits this to go unabated. He states it is “self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population” and that we “need to challenge these self-serving and out-dated attitudes and practices”.
He is one of a group of Elders, an independent group of global leaders, who recently published a statement saying that:
“The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.”
He makes the point that “male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have for their own selfish ends overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ…….and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God.”
Based on these understandings Jimmy Carter has chosen to leave the Southern Baptist Covention after six decades because the leaders of that convention ordained that women must be ‘subservient’ to men and are unable to serve as religious leaders. This was based on their cherry picking of verses in the bible and he could no longer support such tenets and thus the title “losing my religion for equality”.
However, perhaps Jimmy Carter is not losing his religion but finding true religion?He may be losing the man-made form of religion with its doctrines and dogmas and rules that do not come from God but perhaps he has come to a deeper understanding of what religion is actually about as portrayed in these sentiments. The etymology of the word religion has been disputed but many concur that it comes from re – again, -ligare, to bind, tie or connect and concerns our choice to rebind, to reconnect with God, our relationship with God. According to Jesus Christ, “the Kingdom of God is inside you” which is entirely consistent with esoteric philosophy that also talks about the relationship with the God that lives inside us, the deepest or innermost part of ourselves that is God, that is Love.
When we re-connect with this innermost essence of love we know without doubt that all human beings everywhere are equal – there is no questioning, no books or lectures are needed to tell us this, it is not a belief but a known Truth; there is no doubt whatsoever that every human being from the most hardened criminal, rapist, paedophile, murderer, genocide inflicter to those that consistently express the highest value of love in human form, to Jesus Christ himself – are all absolutely equal in essence. Thus it is literally a ‘no-brainer’ that men and women are equal in essence – for it is seeing and knowing with the eyes of the heart and not the isolated mind/brain that allows one to know that this is a fact, that this is a Universal Truth. It is energetically true whether people believe it and accept it or not. It is when we give power to the ideals and beliefs of man-made religion without first reconnecting to the innermost wisdom of love that chaos and discrimination in many forms abounds. It seems to me that rather than losing his religion, Jimmy Carter may have found his true religion, his re-connection to the truth that resides in his own heart where all are known to be equal.
I commend Jimmy Carter for speaking out so clearly about the evils of his own religion. It is true that man-made religious ideals and beliefs, have been interpreted to suit the self-serving minds of men for centuries and have been the source of great harm, discrimination and abuse to women across the ages and across the globe.
Of course, we as women have had a role to play in this as well. We have allowed it to occur by staying silent, by acquiescing, by being submissive, subservient and letting men get away with this abuse for aeons. As Jimmy Carter says – “it is time we had the courage to challenge these views” – and that goes for all of us, men and women together. It is not about blaming either gender, we have both contributed to this situation and we both have the capability to call it out for what it is and to do it differently, to live and express from and with love and acceptance of each other, knowing that each is of the divine, expressing uniquely in human form – that we are without doubt all equal but not the same.
Feel free to share your views or comments below. The views shared here are based on my personal experience and study of religion and esoteric philosophy. This is what true religion is for me but I appreciate others may have different views and understandings. It is for each person to discern for themselves whether what is offered feels true or not. I look forward to hearing what you feel true religion is.