When I read this article by Jimmy Carter, I wanted to cry for joy. Here is a man who gets it.
In the article, Carter explains why he severed ties with the Southern Baptist Convention -- because they were systematically selecting to emphasize Bible verses to support the subjugation of women. "This was in conflict with my belief - confirmed in the holy scriptures - that we are all equal in the eyes of God," he says in his article.
I'm not a religious believer myself, but I don't in principle object to others holding religious beliefs. Everyone's experiences are different, and lead them to different conclusions. Reality really is in the eye of the beholder. Ideally, religious beliefs should uplift people, not just the believers themselves, but those around them as they find themselves treated with love and respect by believers.
In practice, however, religion too often takes a more destructive role -- squabbles over whose beliefs are "right" or "wrong" lead to hurt feelings between family members at best, and violence in the name of religion at worst; feelings of superiority over those who do not share our beliefs lead to treating our fellow human beings as something less than human; and systemic oppression of women is justified in the name of god.
"It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and out-dated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom."
Carter and a group of eminent global leaders (including Nelson Mandela) have recently come out with a statement that declares: "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." I applaud you, Jimmy Carter, for standing up for me and all women against religiously sanctioned oppression!