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Jimmy Carter gets out
July 20, 2009 1:32 PM   Subscribe

Jimmy Carter leaves the Southern Baptist Church [M]y decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the 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.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (157 comments total) 58 users marked this as a favorite

 
'Bout time, Jimmy! Well done.
posted by Mister_A at 1:36 PM on July 20, 2009


That's one smart nuclear physicist there.
posted by Aquaman at 1:36 PM on July 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


How very lovely.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:36 PM on July 20, 2009


Good for him. I wish there were more thoughtful Southern Baptists like Jimmy Carter.

But not at the Cracker Barrel on Sundays when I'm hungover and I JUST WANT SOME EGGS GODDAMMIT
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:37 PM on July 20, 2009 [17 favorites]


Go Jimmy.
posted by Miko at 1:39 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


A counselor asked me, in 1984, which men I admired most, and would emulate if I could. He did a double-take when, after musing for a few moments, named Jimmy Carter. Being a therapy session, I wondered if this made me look like even more of a loser in this guys eyes.

However, that moment looks better and better with each passing year.
posted by Danf at 1:39 PM on July 20, 2009 [46 favorites]


Amazing he could stomach the southern baptists for so long, but thumbs up once again Jimmy.
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:39 PM on July 20, 2009


The more I learn about Jimmy Carter, the more I like him.
A gentleman and a scholar.
posted by Capt Jingo at 1:39 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


he's a communist and a liberal
posted by philip-random at 1:39 PM on July 20, 2009


Hasn't that always been their position on women?
posted by billysumday at 1:39 PM on July 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


Wow. I love this.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:39 PM on July 20, 2009


Great. Took him 60 years to do it. He certainly would not have done this while in political life. Good for him and all that, but I mean, rings a little hollow to me.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:40 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wait, that's his reason for leaving? Hasn't that always been the position of the Church regarding women?
posted by billysumday at 1:41 PM on July 20, 2009


I dunno. One fairy tale trumps another.
Women should be equal not because the holy scriptures say so, but because we decide that is the kind of world we want for our children.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:41 PM on July 20, 2009 [22 favorites]


horrible laptop = double comment! yee-haw! (and apologies...)
posted by billysumday at 1:41 PM on July 20, 2009


Wow.
posted by lekvar at 1:41 PM on July 20, 2009


And yes, I like Jimmy Carter. Great dude.
posted by lazaruslong at 1:41 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


He certainly would not have done this while in political life. Good for him and all that, but I mean, rings a little hollow to me.

I don't know -- messing around with your spiritual underpinnings is an awfully big deal when you are nearer to the end of your life than the beginning. I think it's very brave, actually.

I hope when I'm eighty-five I'm willing to shake things up like that. I don't mean on a public level, I mean on a personal level -- how many eighty-five year olds are going to question--and reject! something so fundamental to their lives.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:42 PM on July 20, 2009 [25 favorites]


ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands

Fuck you very much.

I feel weird saying, "Go, Jimmy," when he's just believing something that's supposed to be a given. Why praise people for treating women equal when they are? But? Good on him for saying it out loud and trying to shame those without.
posted by FunkyHelix at 1:43 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


More on The Elders. I wish they chose a name that doesn't bring to mind anti-Jewish hate fables. Perhaps Legion of Politically Well Connected Retireees?
posted by benzenedream at 1:43 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


At their 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.

Sounds like Carter is coming very close to affirming pro-choice values with this statement. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Good for him. I wish more people would leave churches who have teachings they find troublesome. When I was struggling with my own homosexuality, I went and talked to the pastor at the church where I had been raised for the previous 22 years. The (new within the past couple of years) pastor said that if I were gay, I was not welcome at the church. That was the last time I went there. It was one of the most liberating, frightening, and ultimately life-affirming decisions I've made.

I hope Mr. Carter's actions inspire others to vote with their feet when it comes to equality issues within religious insititutions.
posted by hippybear at 1:43 PM on July 20, 2009 [8 favorites]


Great, I guess — but did he just wake up one morning and realize “hey, I go to a really misogynistic and backwards church! That's uncool!” or what? It's not like their views on gender equality have just surfaced. It's like deciding to quit the KKK because you just saw a really stunning History Channel documentary.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:44 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yes, lovely. Now if he would just leave the "Israel=Apartheid" Church, that would help me take his other opinions more seriously.
posted by yiftach at 1:45 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Good on you, Jimmy.
posted by boo_radley at 1:47 PM on July 20, 2009


Why praise people for treating women equal when they are?

Because there is the world the way it is, and the world the way it ought to be. And in the world the way it is, women are not yet everywhere treated as equals. When a public figure makes a public statement to the effect that women ought to be everywhere treated as equals, that is a good thing, deserving of praise.

It is all the more important given how easy it would be for him not to say or change a thing.
posted by voltairemodern at 1:49 PM on July 20, 2009 [9 favorites]


Now if he would just leave the "Israel=Apartheid" Church, that would help me take his other opinions more seriously.

There are churches who openly admit that they believe the treatment of the Palestinians resembles Apartheid? I thought most of the Christian Churches were too invested in the concept of "rebuild the temple to Jesus can come back" concept to ever question the politics of the region.
posted by hippybear at 1:49 PM on July 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Actually it looks like he formally did this in 2000, and his opinion piece is just reiterating that choice.
posted by buffalo at 1:49 PM on July 20, 2009 [11 favorites]


grrr. "rebuild the temple *so* Jesus can come back"
posted by hippybear at 1:50 PM on July 20, 2009


We got Trudeau, you got Carter. Keep tryin' USA.
posted by GuyZero at 1:50 PM on July 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


I thought most of the Christian Churches were too invested in the concept of "rebuild the temple to Jesus can come back" concept to ever question the politics of the region.

You don't know very much about Christianity, do you?
posted by felix betachat at 1:50 PM on July 20, 2009 [7 favorites]


There are churches who openly admit that they believe the treatment of the Palestinians resembles Apartheid?

I think this person is referring to Jimmy Carter's book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, not to a specific church.
posted by blucevalo at 1:52 PM on July 20, 2009


I thought most of the Christian Churches were too invested in the concept of "rebuild the temple to Jesus can come back" concept to ever question the politics of the region.

You don't know very much about Christianity, do you?


Uh, actually, that statement pretty much sums it up.
posted by billysumday at 1:52 PM on July 20, 2009


Wait, that's his reason for leaving? Hasn't that always been the position of the Church regarding women?

Not always. The fundamentalists gained a majority of the Southern Baptist Convention back in the late 90's and codified the language of the submission of women. See here

Since then, the repercussions have continued to the point that it's clear that the moderates aren't going to hold sway anytime soon. Things are getting more extreme. A female Hebrew professor was fired from an SBC seminary because she was a women, and therefore forbidden to teach men. That was just two years ago, and I don't think anyone would have predicted that when the submission language was added nine years previously. Things aren't static--they are getting worse.

Carter probably hoped for a resurgence of moderates in his beloved denomination, and has now realized that isn't going to happen in his lifetime.

These are my impressions as a non-Baptist, but interested observer. If we have a real live Southern Baptist on Metafilter, maybe they can add more insight.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:52 PM on July 20, 2009 [31 favorites]


Here is the NYTimes article in 2000.
posted by buffalo at 1:53 PM on July 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Actually it looks like he formally did this in 2000, and his opinion piece is just reiterating that choice.


That makes sense. The biggest single change was in 1998, so he moved on pretty quick, I guess.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:54 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hasn't that always been their position on women?

NSFW: This is their position on women.
posted by psylosyren at 1:55 PM on July 20, 2009


You don't know very much about Christianity, do you?

I know a fuckload about Christianity. What can you say to convince me that the greater mass of US Christianity isn't ignoring the plight of the natives to the region because they hope that with the institution of Israel, they haven't moved forward the Eschaton?
posted by hippybear at 1:55 PM on July 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


For a President, even an ex-President, to publicly leave his denomination, in this country? Yikes!

I'm not religious, but Carter has shown probably the most integrity of our recent Presidents. And he's got some guts, too. Carter "got in a shouting match Wednesday with Sudanese security services who blocked him from a town in Darfur where he was trying to meet representatives of ethnic African refugees from the ongoing conflict." This is a guy who used to let Hunter S. Thompson hang at his house for a couple of days, and joked in a note that he'd drop out if Thompson ran for President. He put solar panels (later torn down by Reagan) on the roof of the White House.

I think Carter kicks much ass, as Presidents go.
posted by adipocere at 1:55 PM on July 20, 2009 [41 favorites]


but did he just wake up one morning and realize “hey, I go to a really misogynistic and backwards church!

I think things reached a breaking point and he decided to make a public statement, one that will probably cost him many close friends. Coming from a man who took time off from his life to go door-to-door for Jesus, breaking with his church was probably a heart wrenching decision.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:55 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, it will be fun watching the wingnuts shrieking with indignation at Carter yet again at least.
posted by Scoo at 1:56 PM on July 20, 2009


yiftach: "Yes, lovely. Now if he would just leave the 'Israel=Apartheid' Church, that would help me take his other opinions more seriously."

I think you may be confusing 'churches' with 'observations.' But anyway, good troll attempt, 7/10.
posted by mullingitover at 1:56 PM on July 20, 2009 [11 favorites]


I think Carter is leaving the Souther Baptist Convention for other reasons. I think he knows that within the baptist church there is a gradient of ways of thinking about women's role in the church (the SBC does not tell baptist churches what to do/beleive): there are the extreme churches that stop women from doing anything but cooking for pot-lucks and there are others that are more liberal in that issue. So, there must be something else in my opinion.
It is interesting to note that the SBC views women of equal value to men. Yes, in church life they may serve different roles but I do not see how that would make women less than men.
posted by dov3 at 1:56 PM on July 20, 2009


Yes, Carter was responding in 2000 to a formal policy statement issued in 1998 (and the subsequent failure of a set of initiative to change that by people who objected), so it's hardly like he was slow off the mark.

And all the "well he should have figured it out earlier" people: I applaud you for your outstanding efforts to separate yourself from every limitation imposed on you by your own culture, upbringing, and experience. You must be contributing incredible things to the world around you thanks to your freedom from those limitations, unlike Jimmy Carter and other similar pikers.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:58 PM on July 20, 2009 [17 favorites]


It is interesting to note that the SBC views women of equal value to men. Yes, in church life they may serve different roles but I do not see how that would make women less than men.
So, separate, but equal. Sounds great!
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:59 PM on July 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


What can you say to convince me that the greater mass of US Christianity isn't ignoring the plight of the natives to the region because they hope that with the institution of Israel, they haven't moved forward the Eschaton?

I can say to you that the "greater mass" of US Christianity are affiliated with the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopalian, Congregational, United Church of Christ, and other Christian denominations that aren't eschatological.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:01 PM on July 20, 2009 [14 favorites]


It is interesting to note that the SBC views women of equal value to men. Yes, in church life they may serve different roles but I do not see how that would make women less than men.

dov3, I know where you are coming from, because they said that in the kind of church that I grew up in, too. But "equal value" is a pointless kind of equality. I think by it people mean that God loves women just as much as men, and their souls are worth just as much, or something completely ineffable like that. But when it comes to expressing equality where it counts--equal voice, equal status, equal opportunity, it just isn't there. If men make all the key decisions, if only men can serve as pastors, if men can teach women but women can't teach men, but you still can't see "how that would make women less than men," I don't know what else we can say to you.

And really, is the SBC going to come right out and say "women aren't of equal value to men?" Of course not. But this is a matter where actions count more than words.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:03 PM on July 20, 2009 [23 favorites]


Six decades?! It took him six decades to decide that his church was misogynistic? Good gravy, that's a lot of soul searching! Did they just never talk about women around him until he was a senior citizen for fear of arousing his youthful loins? I mean, kudos to him for standing up for his beliefs, but that's an exceptionally long time to turn a blind eye.

On behalf of my uterus, I'm glad that more public figures are willing to speak up for women's rights, but I feel like there might be additional factors at work here.
posted by Diagonalize at 2:03 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Great, I guess — but did he just wake up one morning and realize “hey, I go to a really misogynistic and backwards church! That's uncool!” or what?

Carter isn't a schismatic. His first reaction to running into theological conflicts with his church is to not run away. When he was younger, the SBC was not a monolithic organization entity hell bent on on being schismatics themselves. Moderates and liberals and those who grew up on the theology of the Social Gospel thrived in the Baptist denomination. However, through the decades, the fundamentalists took over seminaries, took over churches, and being their great inquisitions which has only recently been active in removing women from positions of teaching in seminaries, universities, and the like. The current SBC leaders love being schismatics and love exclusion which is why Carter, who probably fought this tooth and nail, finally ended up leaving after six decades of struggle.

One of the great shames of Protestantism is the inherent acceptance in many of its members that schism is the first reaction to all disagreements. It shouldn't be.
posted by Stynxno at 2:03 PM on July 20, 2009 [15 favorites]


The Southern Baptist Church in my town when I lived in Virginia in the mid-late '70s was not at all like today's SBC. I went to Sunday School a few times with the neighbor kids, and the vibe was a lot more "help old people cross the street, feed the poor, and do your chores" then it was "abortion, hell, war, abortion," like it is these days.
posted by Mister_A at 2:04 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


What can you say to convince me that the greater mass of US Christianity isn't ignoring the plight of the natives to the region because they hope that with the institution of Israel, they haven't moved forward the Eschaton?

I can say to you that the "greater mass" of US Christianity are affiliated with the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopalian, Congregational, United Church of Christ, and other Christian denominations that aren't eschatological.


Okay, that was fair and I asked for it.

Do those organization have stated stances on the Israel / Palestine situation? Regardless of the End Times possibilities, I do find that overall, the response of most Christians that I've spoken with about the Middle East (granted, it's not many) have expressed attitudes about the Palestinians similar to ones I read being expressed about Native Americans in the early 1800s. That is to say, not very flattering as a starting point, and going down from there.
posted by hippybear at 2:04 PM on July 20, 2009


What can you say to convince me that the greater mass of US Christianity isn't ignoring the plight of the natives to the region because they hope that with the institution of Israel, they haven't moved forward the Eschaton?

cough
cough
cough
cough
cough
cough
cough
cough

etc etc.

Seriously, you realize that there are great masses of American Christians who do not consider the eschaton to be a major part of their spiritual life, don't you? Or is that not part of the fuckload that you know?
posted by felix betachat at 2:04 PM on July 20, 2009 [8 favorites]


and other Christian denominations that aren't eschatological.

What do you mean by "eschatological?" I'm pretty sure all those denominations believe that someday this age will end and God will usher in a new one when Christ returns. That's eschatology.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:05 PM on July 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Love him.
posted by contessa at 2:06 PM on July 20, 2009


...attitudes about the Palestinians similar to ones I read being expressed about Native Americans in the early 1800s.

That has a lot more to do with good old-fashioned racism than anything else, hippybear. Many Americans don't like Arabs. This didn't start on Sept. 11, 2001–it just became acceptable for many more Americans to really publicly not like Arabs.
posted by Mister_A at 2:11 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


MrMoonPie, So, separate, but equal. Sounds great!

Is a father different than a mother? Do they have exactly the same role in a family? Although we would like to put them as equal, a mother and a father will fulfill different positions/roles. I see a similar scenario within the church.
posted by dov3 at 2:12 PM on July 20, 2009


Good job, Jimmy, but...dude, you're slooooow! I was exactly 5 years old, the fall after Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, in 1969, when my mother asked me whether I was interested in going to church. I asked some pertinent questions (any *real* proof of any of this religious stuff?), she gave me honest answers (no, not really), and I decided against church. And forty years later Jimmy Carter has his own awakening. A little late to the party, Jimmy...but have a seat anyway, if you can find one.
posted by jamstigator at 2:15 PM on July 20, 2009


Go, Carter, Go!

Chik-Fil-A is about the only good thing to come out of Southern Baptist tradition.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:15 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm right there with you, dov3, I fucking highly value the skilled labor women perform in such tasks as makin' babies, makin' me breakfast, gettin' me a beer, and so forth. Part of our equality is that bitches must leave the presidentin' and the deaconin' and the pastorin' and the teachin' and the doctorin' and the votin' to men like me. That's equality I can get behind!
posted by Mister_A at 2:16 PM on July 20, 2009 [10 favorites]


It is interesting to note that the SBC views women of equal value to men. Yes, in church life they may serve different roles but I do not see how that would make women less than men.

You and I form an equal partnership, but I'm the one in charge--I make the decisions, I decide how much to pay you, and you need my approval for what you do. In what sense are we equal, even if I deign to consult you from time to time on your thoughts on the direction the business is taking?
posted by fatbird at 2:18 PM on July 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty sure all those denominations believe that someday this age will end and God will usher in a new one when Christ returns.

Well, there's a difference between acknowledging that someday it will happen, and then there's actively trying to bring it about.
posted by electroboy at 2:20 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is a father different than a mother? Do they have exactly the same role in a family? Although we would like to put them as equal, a mother and a father will fulfill different positions/roles. I see a similar scenario within the church.

There is a big big difference between acknowledging that biological differences will generally result a kind of benign role differentiation and imposing different roles (some obviously less or greater) from the outside. A big, big difference. If a woman wants to "do motherhood" differently than the norm, she is free to do so. And there are plenty of families where the wife has the major role in decision making, due to her giftedness and temperament. Plenty more where a co-equal partnership is at work. I'd say for most people that's the ideal now. It's not as though everyone is still in 1950's style marriages. Few people are--unless they were married in the 50's.

But let's say a women wants to be an SBC pastor? Well, that's a non-starter isn't it? Not because she doesn't have the gifts or the temperament for it, but because a bunch of men decided it would be that way.

And most of the folks who say that men and women should have different roles in the church don't mean it. They mean women should be denied some of the men's roles, but men can do anything they want. I have never, in all my years in patriarchal churches (and those were quite a few years), seen a man denied any position he wanted. If a man wants to cook for the potluck, volunteer to watch the toddlers, serve on the clean-up crew, teach seven-year-olds in Sunday School, he gets to do it. No one ever says, "Now, brother, men and women have different roles. God didn't make you to be a cook and a nurturer and a teacher of children. You have to stick to the men's roles you were created for." If he is gifted and interested in a traditionally women's job, he gets to do it. But if a woman is gifted for and interested in a position reserved for men, she gets shut down. I saw it over and over. Whatever is really happening here, it isn't a strong belief in role differentiation. Because that only gets enforced on one side of the line.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:23 PM on July 20, 2009 [64 favorites]


Good for Jimmy, but it does take some pretty strained readings to get women-are-equal-to-men from any Bible I've ever read. From Genesis to Paul, they're lucky to be treated as better than cute talking animals.

And yeah, I've read a few.
posted by rokusan at 2:24 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I used to be a SB and the only kinds of relationships I ever saw where men clearly thought and acted like they were in charge were quite old. Among younger people it was just like any other religion (or no religion): women run everything, and neither will admit it.
posted by rahnefan at 2:24 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually, scratch that. Paul was pretty clear that they shouldn't talk either.
posted by rokusan at 2:24 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Although we would like to put them as equal, a mother and a father will fulfill different positions/roles.

Really? Save for the strictly biological fact that a fetus grows inside my uterus and not out of my husband's testicles, I don't see how my husband's role as nurturer and caretaker will be any different than my own role. There may be bullshit cultural divisions between "women's work" and "men's work", but those divisions are by no means universal. I see the same shift happening in churches as it is happening in society - recognizing that there is no biological or Biblical prescriptive against women in leadership roles, save those made by historical misogynists.
posted by muddgirl at 2:26 PM on July 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


Do those organization have stated stances on the Israel / Palestine situation? Regardless of the End Times possibilities, I do find that overall, the response of most Christians that I've spoken with about the Middle East (granted, it's not many) have expressed attitudes about the Palestinians similar to ones I read being expressed about Native Americans in the early 1800s. That is to say, not very flattering as a starting point, and going down from there.

Even the attitudes of the particular subset of non-mainline Protestants that generally get lumped in under the somewhat misleading banner of "Evangelicals" on Israel are not as simplistic as suggested and are a source of division within that part of the community of Christian churches.
posted by nanojath at 2:26 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Christ! A crisis of confidence!
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 2:31 PM on July 20, 2009


Since then, the repercussions have continued to the point that it's clear that the moderates aren't going to hold sway anytime soon. Things are getting more extreme. A female Hebrew professor was fired from an SBC seminary because she was a women, and therefore forbidden to teach men. That was just two years ago, and I don't think anyone would have predicted that when the submission language was added nine years previously. Things aren't static--they are getting worse.

This is terrible. Unfortunately, many young men and women in this faith are going to absorb and believe horribly misogynistic attitudes that will be difficult to change and/or dislodge.

On the other hand, I'm all about more extreme Christian denominations being open, clear, and formal about their beliefs, ideas, and values--have the courage of your convictions! Like those pitiably stupid senators parading their racism, misogyny and ignorance during the Sotomayor hearings, oblivious to how they appear to so, so many of us. In fact, I wish all the job listings in the SBC would say "Help Wanted - No Women" just to be perfectly clear about it. That way I and all the rest of us know exactly what we are dealing with and can avoid or address it much more easily.

Put the crazy out front, churches. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
posted by LooseFilter at 2:31 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Good for Jimmy, but it does take some pretty strained readings to get women-are-equal-to-men from any Bible I've ever read. From Genesis to Paul, they're lucky to be treated as better than cute talking animals.

I'm not going to deny the presence of the texts you are talking about, but I'll say it takes a pretty blind eye not to notice that in the brutal and patriarchal ancient near east, Deborah is the big boss in Israel for a while. Or Huldah is acclaimed as a prophetess. Hard to miss the fact that in the New Testament women financially supported the ministry of Jesus, which in that day carried a strong connotation that they were his social superiors--the patrons of what he was doing. Or that Mary of Bethany sat at Jesus' feet as a disciple with all the men. Or that a woman, Mary Magdalene, was the first witness of the resurrection. Or that Junia was considered outstanding among the apostles. Or that Paul told the Romans to given Phoebe whatever help she needed in her ministry.

Or--and I think this is a big one--one the day of Pentecost, the inaugural moment of the church, the Apostle Peter (that's Pope Peter for our Catholic friends) quoted the prophet Joel's words that

" I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy."

And told the entire crowd present that this one was being fulfilled, starting right then.

Given the era that these documents were written in, I'm continually impressed at how much they pushed the boundaries.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:32 PM on July 20, 2009 [17 favorites]


Jimmy Carter has been a superb example of how to serve as a former head of state. His presidency was marred with troubles and he earned a reputation as a weak man, but Carter has always been very strong morally, without the judgemental attitude that many who consider themselves morally upright carry like a banner.
posted by notashroom at 2:32 PM on July 20, 2009 [7 favorites]


I know a fuckload about Christianity. What can you say to convince me that the greater mass of US Christianity isn't ignoring the plight of the natives to the region because they hope that with the institution of Israel, they haven't moved forward the Eschaton?

OK. How are you going to want to do your counting here? If we're talking about formal stances of religious authorities, this is a pretty out-there view. It's certainly not Catholic dogma, or part of any mainline Protestant faiths. Has the SBC endorsed it?

Frankly, though, if you're going to talk about the "greater mass of US Christianity", they're ignoring the plight of the Palestinians because they're incurious, uneducated, sollipsists. And that's not because of Christianity: it's just good old-fashioned American insularity and anti-intellectualism. I'd be amazed if 50% of Americans even know what a Palestinian is.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:35 PM on July 20, 2009


there is no biological or Biblical prescriptive against women in leadership roles

I don't know, Corinthians 14:34 is pretty clear...
posted by electroboy at 2:36 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


The various derails are all sort of a shame, since they detract from what is remarkable about Carter's essay: not its relation of the fact that he left the SBC (which as pointed out is nearly decade-old news) or that he doesn't personally adhere to the doctrine that the division of genders and subjugation of women is ordained by Christianity (which he never professed in the first place) but that he lays blame for the mistreatment, disenfranchisement, subjugation and abuse of women firmly at the feet of religious attitudes and institutions. Which remains (unfortunately) a pretty remarkable and unusual thing for a highly-religiously-identified politician to do and is, I think, an action of substance.
posted by nanojath at 2:37 PM on July 20, 2009 [10 favorites]


I don't know -- messing around with your spiritual underpinnings is an awfully big deal when you are nearer to the end of your life than the beginning. I think it's very brave, actually.

I hope when I'm eighty-five I'm willing to shake things up like that. I don't mean on a public level, I mean on a personal level -- how many eighty-five year olds are going to question--and reject! something so fundamental to their lives.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:42 PM on July 20


Of course you are right. I think I exposed my anti-religion bias in my first reaction in that comment. Sometimes I forget that doing something as obvious as leaving a church that represses women can be an incredibly difficult thing for a smart religious person like President Carter.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:38 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure all those denominations believe that someday this age will end and God will usher in a new one when Christ returns.

Yeah, but they don't really believe it. Emphasis on the "someday". You know what I mean?
posted by mr_roboto at 2:39 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


That reads a little snarky and it really isn't. I can understand that this was a hard thing for him. Kudos.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:39 PM on July 20, 2009


jamstigator: Good job, Jimmy, but...dude, you're slooooow! I was exactly 5 years old, the fall after Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, in 1969, when my mother asked me whether I was interested in going to church. I asked some pertinent questions (any *real* proof of any of this religious stuff?), she gave me honest answers (no, not really), and I decided against church. And forty years later Jimmy Carter has his own awakening. A little late to the party, Jimmy...but have a seat anyway, if you can find one.

Carter isn't leaving church. He's leaving a specific denomination.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:46 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


YES! What a pleasant surprise, and wonderful comments. Thank you, Jimmy, you old feminist, you. Hooray!
posted by agregoli at 2:47 PM on July 20, 2009


Although we would like to put them as equal, a mother and a father will fulfill different positions/roles.

That's a false recasting of the choice. It isn't between having different roles or having the same roles. Hell, I'm a university professor and my dad was a neurosurgeon. So not even dads have the same roles. It's who chooses those roles: autonomy is a primary human ethic. When roles are prechosen based on arbitrary physical characteristics, well, you see where I'm going with this.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:52 PM on July 20, 2009


I don't know, Corinthians 14:34 is pretty clear...

Damn you! Stop using my Holy Book to condemn my religion!
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:54 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Southern Baptist Convention has changed radically over the past several decades, having become far more fundamentalist, authoritarian and political. Leaving the convention does not mean leaving the Baptist church, however. I believe President Carter will associate himself with the Mainstream Baptist Movement as evidenced by this announcement. The SBC has strayed far from E.Y. Mullins' concept of soul competency at the beginning of the 20th century. Moderate Baptists have been shown the door in much the same fashion as moderate or liberal Republicans in the GOP.
posted by jim in austin at 2:56 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know much about Baptists and hardly anything after about 1680 and outside England, but I do recall reading about "A certain Mrs. Attaway (Attoway) (fl. 1643-46), a member of Thomas Lamb's (d. 1686) General Baptist congregation in London. She was a female tub preacher (i.e. the tub was used as a movable pulpit), and was notorious in London during the mid-1640's." Um, that is all.
posted by Abiezer at 2:56 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I need to figure out how to do this officially. There's a Southern Baptist church out there that still counts me among their numbers because I was baptized when I was like nine or ten or some such bullshit, and this annoys me greatly. Wikipedia says the Southern Baptist Convention claims 16 million members, I wonder how many are people like me.

The last time I visited home my mom tried to get me to go to church with the family, and I said I would go but only I could officially unjoin while I was there. (The last time I actually attended church, my mom invited me to go and I said I would but only if I could go naked except for shoes and a trenchcoat.)
posted by little e at 2:57 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Huzzah etc. etc., but I left the Catholic church and Christianity in general at the age of fifteen (although I still capitalize those words as I strive to adhere to the tenets of proper English usage, and in that I sometimes sin.)
posted by longsleeves at 2:57 PM on July 20, 2009


I need to figure out how to do this officially.

From a previous post:

I, _____________ , having been subjected to the Rite of Christian Baptism in infancy (before reaching an age of consent), hereby publicly revoke any implications of that Rite and renounce the Church that carried it out. In the name of human reason, I reject all its Creeds and all other such superstition in particular, the perfidious belief that any baby needs to be cleansed by Baptism of alleged ORIGINAL SIN, and the evil power of supposed demons. I wish to be excluded henceforth from enhanced claims of church membership numbers based on past baptismal statistics used, for example, for the purpose of securing legislative privilege.

Signed___________________

And have it notarized, and maybe mail a copy to your old church.
posted by longsleeves at 3:01 PM on July 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


What do you mean by "eschatological?" I'm pretty sure all those denominations believe that someday this age will end and God will usher in a new one when Christ returns. That's eschatology.

Yes, I was using "eschatological" as shorthand for "linking current events to a doctrine of eschatology," which none of those denominations do.

My apologies for that. Is there a more accurate shorthand for that?
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:03 PM on July 20, 2009


The last time I visited home my mom tried to get me to go to church with the family, and I said I would go but only I could officially unjoin while I was there.

My parents seem to work to make sure my name is still on the list at the Presbyterian church that I grew up in. I've asked them more than once to stop bothering -- that if and when I find a place to exercise my spiritual expression I will make sure to enroll there and not just attend. For some reason, they think this is important. I think it's a spiritual thing. Maybe they think that if I die or if Jesus comes back, I'll be allowed into heaven as long as my name is on a list in a church someplace.

There is that whole pesky "once saved always saved" vs. "you know the saved by their works" argument which is so popular with the Fundies. Maybe this part of that, although neither my parents nor their church is really that fundamentalist.
posted by hippybear at 3:05 PM on July 20, 2009


Do those organization have stated stances on the Israel / Palestine situation? Regardless of the End Times possibilities, I do find that overall, the response of most Christians that I've spoken with about the Middle East (granted, it's not many) have expressed attitudes about the Palestinians similar to ones I read being expressed about Native Americans in the early 1800s. That is to say, not very flattering as a starting point, and going down from there.

That's because they don't give a rat's ass about world events, like most human beings. It's not because their church connects current events to eschatology, or because they're praying for the Rapture, because Catholics/Lutherans/Methodists/Episcopalians/Orthodox Christians/etc. don't roll like that.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:07 PM on July 20, 2009


I know a fuckload about Christianity. What can you say to convince me that the greater mass of US Christianity isn't ignoring the plight of the natives to the region because they hope that with the institution of Israel, they haven't moved forward the Eschaton?

hippybear, that was about the most insulting, troll-like garbage I've read on Metafilter in quite some time. Many, many mainline Christians are working very hard to prevent ethnic-cleansing in the occupied territories and have taken extremely progressive stances on the issue. My own denomination, the UCC, passed a "tear down the wall" resolution over four years ago at general Synod. I see others have linked to mainline statements above. Carter's stance on women, as I see it, is far more controversial in the SBC than his position on Israel / Palestine. Furthermore, many Evangelicals are working just as hard as their mainline counterparts. When I was in the West Bank, almost all of my American coworkers were from Evangelical churches, working for organizations like Paidia International Development, the Bethlehem YMCA and many others.

A very, very few Christians (mostly fundamentalists) advocate for "Christian Zionism" - but this is nowhere near mainstream in either the mainline or Evangelical churches.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:11 PM on July 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


and then there's actively trying to bring it about.

I thought all attempts to Immamentise the Eschaton were the work of the Illuminatus?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:13 PM on July 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


I wasn't trolling, mullingitover, but thanks for the compliment.

And I wasn't referring to a specific church (not my area of expertise, although I imagine such churches actually exist, hippybear), I was talking about Carter's position on the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. It is difficult, if not impossible, for many people to have a reasonable discussion about the conflict with a person who uses "apartheid" to describe that situation. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has borne a horrible, heavy price in human lives, and I will freely admit that the Israeli government and military and many Israeli individuals have done terrible things, but it really grates on my (and others') nerves to hear the word apartheid used to describe the situation. It just isn't like that, however wrong some of the policies are.

It also grates on my nerves that our own government uses "czar" to describe some high-level administrators, considering the historical weight of that word/position, but that's another story.
posted by yiftach at 3:13 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Damn you! Stop using my Holy Book to condemn my religion!

Hate to say it, but the Lord of the Universe didn't exactly perform his due diligence when writing his spec book. I hope he's paid up on his errors and omissions insurance premiums.
posted by electroboy at 3:13 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I need to figure out how to do this officially. There's a Southern Baptist church out there that still counts me among their numbers...

posted by little e at 4:57 PM on July 20 [+] [!]


There's probably no need to get as fancy as longsleeves suggestion. If you send a letter to the head minister of the church in question stating that you are withdrawing your membership of that congregation and you will not be transferring your membership to another congregation that should be all that is necessary. Membership to a church is mainly a private agreement with little substantive significance in ordinary secular society: you may in some sense turn up as a statistic somewhere but mainly you are just on that church's books because you never asked to be removed. It's unlikely that the record of your membership goes beyond the local church's records; it isn't like most denominations are keeping a Master List of Secured Souls or anything. More Book of the Month Club than Military ID Number, in other words, and you probably needn't waste money on a notary.

Of course, doing this will draw your apostasy to the attention of the Minister who will most likely have a conversation with your parents who will then feel obligated to try again to draw you back to the faith, and will also probably provide that minister with your contact information so you can have an enjoyable conversation or several with him as well.
posted by nanojath at 3:15 PM on July 20, 2009


I further went into the SBC website, and commenting also with friends associated with the SBC, the only role restricted to men is the pastoral one. And one have to know that in many churches there is a body of elders/deacons (an according to the SBC women can participate in these roles) that make most of the church's decisions.

Taking from the SBC Baptist Faith and Message:
"A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture"
posted by dov3 at 3:26 PM on July 20, 2009


His presidency was marred with troubles and he earned a reputation as a weak man and was subsequently smeared by the Reagan campaign*, which successfully convinced Americans that those troubles were imaginary and ought to be ignored. "It's morning again in America."

Trivial example: Carter installed solar panels on the roof of the White House to symbolize the need to conserve energy. “A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.” (Carter, 1979) Reagan had the solar heater removed, along with cutting Carter's incentives for renewable energy, etc. A road not taken.

Was Jimmy Carter a good President? Was he weak? Consider what he says in this interview: I Got What America Needs Right Here


* (Yes the Desert One raid was a stupidly planned James Bond fantasy. Is that the sole basis by which his Presidency should be judged?)
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:28 PM on July 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Was Jimmy Carter a good President? Was he weak? Consider what he says in this interview*

*not actually a Carter interview
posted by hippybear at 3:36 PM on July 20, 2009


I don't know, Corinthians 14:34 is pretty clear...

Eh, the Bible's complicated. Jimmy Carter quotes this: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)

I am very afraid of people who think they have the one true interpretation of the Bible.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:37 PM on July 20, 2009


Church attendance at an all-time low! Clearly, the only possible explanation is that those liberal atheist commie nazis are getting gay married and teaching evolution and being rational! Burn 'em! --Matthew 7:1-6
posted by Sys Rq at 3:38 PM on July 20, 2009


Yes, I was using "eschatological" as shorthand for "linking current events to a doctrine of eschatology," which none of those denominations do.

My apologies for that. Is there a more accurate shorthand for that?


Probably the closest thing would be Dispensationalism, though I'm not sure all dispensationalists would fit your description or that every Christian that would fit that description could be accurately described as a dispensationalist. I'd guess that generally Dominionist theology is also frequently related to this set of beliefs though I don't know if I'd agree with the sentiment that eschatology is the primary thrust of Dominionism.
posted by nanojath at 3:43 PM on July 20, 2009


(These, incidentally, would be the kinds of distinctions that characterize knowing a "fuckload" about Christianity).
posted by nanojath at 3:45 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm Canadian, born after Jimmy Carter's time in office, and I'm glad that this is my first real exposure to him. Politics don't really suit anyone, so I'm thankful to have had a real look at what he stands for instead. Seems like a pretty rad guy.
posted by sunshinesky at 3:47 PM on July 20, 2009


I don't know 'bout Jimmy, but when I was a Southern Baptist, the idea was that, sure, women are equal... but we all have roles, and the woman's role was to serve her husband. It's worth mentioning that the pastor at the last SB church of which I was a member had three kids whose names all started with his first initial and an android wife who stood right behind him while he worked toward banning gay marriage and using church funds inappropriately as his big, greasy face smiled down at everyone on giant billboards all over Wichita, KS. Amen.
posted by katillathehun at 3:51 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was baptized when I was like nine or ten or some such bullshit, and this annoys me greatly.

I just go the route of thinking that at some point when I was a very little child, someone gave me an incredibly formal face washing.

Probably not any better, worse, or more significant than I've given myself a few thousand times since, but definitely more attended.
posted by quin at 3:52 PM on July 20, 2009


there is no biological or Biblical prescriptive against women in leadership roles

I don't know, Corinthians 14:34 is pretty clear...

It's anything but clear when you look at the manuscript tradition. What verses were originally in there and in which order is a big jumbled mess. And which Law is that verse referring to? Not one anywhere in the Bible that can be identified. A ton of scholarship has been devoted to trying to sort it all out. One decent article that runs through all the variables is:

Robert Allison, "Let women be silent in the churches (1 Cor 14:33b-36) : what did Paul really say, and what did it mean?"Journal for the Study of the New Testament no 32 F 1988, p 27-60.

If someone wants to geek out on this, there's tons more out there. Ehrman does a decent job with it, too, in "Jesus Misquoted."
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:02 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was baptized when I was like nine or ten or some such bullshit, and this annoys me greatly.

blah blah blah Jewish, amirite?
posted by Sys Rq at 4:06 PM on July 20, 2009


I need to figure out how to do this officially.

The Blasphemy Challenge, maybe?
posted by rokusan at 4:12 PM on July 20, 2009


I further went into the SBC website, and commenting also with friends associated with the SBC, the only role restricted to men is the pastoral one.

That is a significant role.
posted by kathrineg at 4:17 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I further went into the SBC website, and commenting also with friends associated with the SBC, the only role restricted to men is the pastoral one.

That's like saying women can have any job at your company except managers or directors.
posted by GuyZero at 4:29 PM on July 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


I saw President Carter on Bill Moyer's Journal…unless it was Tavis Smiley. He talked quite a bit about his faith, and growing up in the church, and how much that had meant to him.

I really, honestly, cannot begin to imagine what a difficult personal decision this must have been for him.

I really admire that man in a good many ways. I don't really have heroes, but I am sad that I am too young to have ever voted for Jimmy Carter.
posted by paisley henosis at 4:47 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


What can you say to convince me that the greater mass of US Christianity isn't ignoring the plight of the natives to the region because they hope that with the institution of Israel, they haven't moved forward the Eschaton?

Since we haven't discussed the Presbyterians, here's their page, and here's everything you need to know about the disaster that was the 2006 Israel divestment resolution.

As for leaving the SBC, yes, it's pretty much like canceling your membership with a social club. You just tell them you wish to end your association and please remove me from your mailing list, and you should come right off the rolls.

Leaving the Catholic church is a much bigger mess by comparison (it's usually easier to get excommunicated than it is to get dropped the normal way).
posted by dw at 4:57 PM on July 20, 2009


Honestly, the SBC leadership is getting what's coming to them. They're trying to push the denomination away from what it historically has been -- a loose association of independent churches who came together to do missions and charity work -- and towards what could almost be described as a Protestant Catholicism, with a top-down leadership and churches having all their theology and organization decided for them.

There are a lot of churches who hate what the SBC has become not because they disagree with the theology, but because they disagree with the control the Convention is trying to impose on the local church.

The SBC as we know it will be gone in two generations. It's essentially a cult of personalities, and when those personalities go, they'll be so far from where they came from they'll have no idea how to get back.
posted by dw at 5:03 PM on July 20, 2009


yiftach: "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has borne a horrible, heavy price in human lives, and I will freely admit that the Israeli government and military and many Israeli individuals have done terrible things, but it really grates on my (and others') nerves to hear the word apartheid used to describe the situation. It just isn't like that, however wrong some of the policies are."

I don't know if it's apartheid or not, but when South Africans call it apartheid, maybe it's apartheid. /derail
posted by mullingitover at 5:08 PM on July 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


it isn't like most denominations are keeping a Master List of Secured Souls or anything. More Book of the Month Club than Military ID Number, in other words, and you probably needn't waste money on a notary.

Well, except for the Mormons. They really do keep a Master List of Secured Souls.

And they'll add your dead grandparents to it quite happily.
posted by Netzapper at 5:11 PM on July 20, 2009


/derail

That's the most optimistic pseudo-tag I've ever seen.
posted by nanojath at 5:16 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Honestly, the SBC leadership is getting what's coming to them. They're trying to push the denomination away from what it historically has been -- a loose association of independent churches who came together to do missions and charity work

Don't forget the most important aspect of the SBC's history: the fact that it was founded as a refuge for Baptists who staunchly believed in white supremacy and refused to give up their slaves.
posted by jayder at 5:24 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyone who thinks women aren't equal to men is an utter moron.

End of story.
posted by bwg at 5:33 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I am very afraid of people who think they have the one true interpretation of the Bible."
I dunno, I can think of one interpretation summed up in one word that wouldn't induce that kind of fear in me.
posted by edd at 5:39 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I dunno, I can think of one interpretation summed up in one word that wouldn't induce that kind of fear in me.

Don't worry, edd.

You're not the only one who thinks the Bible is best summed up with the word "immaculate".
posted by Netzapper at 5:55 PM on July 20, 2009


Actually, scratch that. Paul was pretty clear that they shouldn't talk either.

Which Paul? Not all of the Pauline epistles were written by Paul--notably, both Timothys, Titus, Ephesians, Colossians, and 2 Thess are possibly pseudonymous works. The most obviously anti-women epistles are clearly not Pauline in origin (the Pastorals, or the Timothys and Titus, are pretty anti-woman and almost certainly not Pauline), and the famous anti-woman citation in Corinthians may have been added by a later scribe.

In fact, the entire passage that begins 1 Cor 11 may be something that was added in.

(NSRV translation), 1 Cor 11:
1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
2 I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions just as I handed them down to you.
[bit about angels and hair and who is the head of who]
17 Now in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse.
[bit about not bickering]

You see how the most infamous bit of 1 Cor, when removed, does not impede the reading of the passage at all? Why would Paul say, "Good job--DON'T DO THIS--remember that good job I mentioned? You need to also NOT DO THIS." It's roughly equivalent to hitting a puppy, then giving him a treat, then hitting him again. Even the New Oxford Annotated footnotes say "Yeah, might've been added in, that bit." Meanwhile, in Galatians, Paul preaches male-female equality (albeit in an eschatological framework, not necessarily in a social revolution type of way).

For a more scholarly description, please see Pater Aletheias, right up o'er there.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 5:56 PM on July 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


It's anything but clear when you look at the manuscript tradition.

Not if you're a Southern Baptist.
posted by electroboy at 6:03 PM on July 20, 2009


My first reaction to the FPP was "didn't this happen years ago?" This was confirmed far upthread, but I seem to remember him talking about this on the radio. (I thought it was on Fresh Air, but a search didn't turn it up.)

Anyway, as I recall (an this was years ago) he didn't talk about the role of women at all. He seemed to object more to the SBC instituting creeds of any kind at all. It's my understanding that the SBC, while generally more conservative, used to be more like the UCC or the DoC in letting congregants make up their own minds, but over the past 25 years or so, they've become more and more afraid of creeping liberalism and relativism, and their way of cutting that off was to institute creeds, oaths and such.

Then again, i wouldn't say that I "know a fuckload" about the SBC.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 6:03 PM on July 20, 2009


I'm glad to see that more people are discovering what a great and honorable man Jimmy Carter is-- he may be one of the most moral men ever elected to the presidency. Since he didn't fuck anyone outside of his marriage but rather loved and honored his wife as well as attended church regularly, the "Family Values" "Moral Majority" (you know, the ones who fumed about how the country was going to hell because of godless commies) had to paint him as a wimp. They mocked him for suggesting that Americans put on a sweater instead of turning up the heat. He had this crazy notion that we would be better off as a nation if we weaned ourselves from our addiction to foreign oil. I wonder, does he feel vindicated or does he weep at the loss of 30 years of wasted opportunities to fulfill our energy needs from another source.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:30 PM on July 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Carter rocks. His mind is wasted in an organization like the SBC. (Hell, a few years back, didn't the entire baptist church in Texas leave the SBC over the same stuff? )

Christianity, sadly, is generally built on cherrypicking the gospel, so I guess the SBC can't be blamed for doing what the rest of them do, now can it?

Carter's positions invariably have reason behind them, and principle. He's a brave and intelligent man, and I've heard him called the best ex-president alive.

His position on Israel's actions isn't the ranting of a bad man, it's the conclusion of a mind that can handle a lot of detail and see what's in front of him. He's also someone who tries to be diplomatic, and before going public with his characterization of Israel's actions, you can bet there was a good bit of private discussion that led nowhere. Even Israel's populace is schizo on this Palestinian question. They feel strongly both ways.

I am inclined to agree with him and observe that whatever has been tried so far hasn't worked that well, so it's time to try something else that might. I also think it's a little ridiculous to let a relatively tiny country set OUR foreign policy, and posit that Israel has a disproportionate impact on our international decisions.

/rant
posted by FauxScot at 6:43 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was raised Baptist in Louisiana (although am non-practicing now), and my church actually pulled out of the Southern Baptist Convention for this very reason. I was fairly young when it happened, but I remember it being a pretty big deal. Seems we had lots of wonderful women who wanted to serve as deacons (which in our church meant visiting sick or hospitalized church members, maybe bringing food or leading the family in a prayer). The church decided that those women should be able to serve as a deacon or anything else they wanted, and they split from the SBC. I distinctly remember that being one of the few times I was proud to say I was Baptist.
posted by tryniti at 6:53 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've said it before and I'll say it again. Jimmy Carter was one of the best Presidents you Yanks ever had. And he's continued his tradition of being awesome ever since.
posted by Effigy2000 at 6:54 PM on July 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's probably no need to get as fancy utterly ignorant as longsleeves['s] suggestion.

The Baptists are pretty much defined by the doctrine of credobaptism (which explicitly opposes infant baptism).
posted by jock@law at 6:57 PM on July 20, 2009


(Hell, a few years back, didn't the entire baptist church in Texas leave the SBC over the same stuff? )

I haven't heard about that, but University Baptist Church in Austin disaffiliated itself from the Southern Baptist Convention while I was living there.
posted by jayder at 6:57 PM on July 20, 2009


(Actually, I think that Wikipedia article is wrong. IIRC, the Southern Baptist Convention expelled the Austin Baptist Church for having a ministry that welcomed transgender people.)
posted by jayder at 6:59 PM on July 20, 2009


Anyone who thinks women aren't equal to men is an utter moron.

I think women aren't equal to men. Strictly speaking, they're congruent.

(equal measure but not equal identity)
posted by jock@law at 7:02 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, he's getting old and all, but Jimmy carter is still eligible for another term.

I mean, hell, Grover Cleveland did it....
posted by spirit72 at 7:15 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


The SBC as we know it will be gone in two generations. It's essentially a cult of personalities, and when those personalities go, they'll be so far from where they came from they'll have no idea how to get back.

Good riddance. It's a bloated corrupt shell of an organization. My dad was a deacon and we spent a lot of time with our godly Pastor, and oh, I could tell you stories.

Baptized on my 7th birthday (all my friends were doing it! Really! and I was a smart kid so I knew all the appropriate responses to the pastor's questions about why I wanted to be), but was so Godded up I was afraid it didn't take and went back down to the front sobbing a few weeks later. Much to my mother's confusion/embarrassment. I was a sensitive little kid who really wanted to please God and was really afraid I might go to Hell because I thought mean thoughts about Christie in my spelling class.

That's a fucked-up thing to do a 7-year-old.
posted by emjaybee at 7:21 PM on July 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Eh, the Bible's complicated

Eh, the Bible's fiction.

With my snark out of the way, this was a very bold thing President Carter did (back in 2000?). It takes a lot of courage to walk away from something so dear to you.
posted by device55 at 7:27 PM on July 20, 2009


eschatological doesn't mean "someday". It means any day now. We are living in the "End Times". Get your affairs in order, because He's comming soon!
posted by carping demon at 8:05 PM on July 20, 2009


I've known quite a few southern Baptists and this I can say (which I could say about almost any denomination, actually) - within each are people who are always going to disagree with some of the tenets. But rather than just give up on the church - they care enough to stay and try and work within the system to try and change it. This is usually a process that doesn't resolve itself overnight, especially if you're sitting down with people arguing doctrine that scholars have been debating for ages and to which there may not actually be an answer. But the church is also a social system of people who are supposed to actually care for each other in a family like way (and no, not in a creepy robotic, cultish way - just another social network). Go back and look at how the different Christian denominations handled the slavery question before the civil war and then on into the civil rights era - some eventually made apologies and clarifications and some....danced around a bit with their words.

Frankly I'm always sad to see a moderate drop out because I think those kind of denominations need as many of them as possible. That's the only way the next generation will be able to make changes that bring them into the 20th century of thought. (I also think it's kinda bizarre that some of the most vocal Baptists I've known have been women with quiet husbands. Never have figured that out.)
posted by batgrlHG at 10:33 PM on July 20, 2009


(Er as jayder already noted, oops.)
posted by batgrlHG at 10:41 PM on July 20, 2009


Not to say I've agreed with everything the man has said or done, but to me he's always seemed like a person who was better than the position of POTUS allowed for or even deserved. Thanks for the link!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:23 PM on July 20, 2009


Good on Carter for doing this. Like many, I thought he had left a while ago (he's been outspoken for years on his disagreements with the church) but glad he finally got around to doing it.

I was raised in a Southern Baptist church and my specific church was at the forefront of the fundamentalist takeover of the convention. This was in the 70's and 80's and our pastor joined the conservatives before the movement even had a solid identity yet. He would often expound from the pulpit how the godless moderates were taking our denomination to hell by espousing liberal doctrines such as advocating the ordainment of women, saying parts of the Bible could be symbolic instead of literal, and generally advocating a level of tolerance to the liberal (read: gays, abortion, ERA, less-than-complete-approval of Israel, etc.) ideals still floating around in the late 70's and early 80's.

The moderates were described as nothing less than a conspiracy to take over the organization and working hand in hand with Satan to dilute the true teachings of God. By the way they talked, if they could have held an inquisition and slaughtered the lot of the heretics, they would have.

The seminaries and universities were their first target. These institutions with their "liberal" professors were considered to be at the knifepoint of the conspiracy, since they would influence all future clergy and would brainwash them to be liberals. They also went pretty hard after the convention presidency and the news arm of the church, winning both of those battles handily. The schools took longer, thanks to tenure and other factors, but from what I understand, they won there as well.

The next step was to force out the unredeemably moderate and liberal congregations if they wouldn't conform. This was a very un-Baptist sort of maneuver since the organization had been traditionally very democratic and decentralized. As long as a church still held to basic beliefs: the Bible is the word of God, Jesus is the son of God, all men are sinners and must be saved, then everything else was up to personal and local interpretation. The Baptists typically didn't go for top-down enforcement of doctrinal purity the way the Catholics or Mormons would.

Apparently this part worked out well for them too. I left the church at 19 so I didn't get to see that part directly, but from what I understand, many moderate churches were forced out and many left to form their own splinter convention. My lab partner in a college class in '97 was a member of a Kansas City Baptist congregation forced out of the convention because they would perform union ceremonies for their gay members and refused to condemn their sexuality from the pulpit.

So, now that their purity and purging has been completely successful, they're left to wonder why their membership is cratering, especially since they're losing virtually all of their membership in the 20-30 range.

As for the role of women, that was always complicated in the church. Women couldn't be ordained and couldn't be deacons but, at least in my conservative church, they did hold several leadership roles. Maybe it's changed a lot since I left, but when I was there, they still had some power. The pastor would often preach about "submissiveness" and how women should depend on their husbands, but this was never taken seriously in practice by any of the women in the church that I knew of, and they continued to serve on various committees and spoke out often, and many of them had their own careers.

Speaking out is one reason my mum is my hero. In an informal Wednesday night service (where people could and were expected to talk back to the pastor), the preacher was going on and on about how women shouldn't work and should just stay at home. After my father died, mum was the only breadwinner in the house. So she lifted her hand and said "Brother Johnny, my son and I are going to pack tonight and will be at your house tomorrow." and he did a double take and asked why. "Because if I can't work, someone's gotta feed the boy and he eats a lot. So we're just going to move in with you, so that a man can pay the bills like you say they should." This led him to quickly change the subject of the talk and, as far as I can remember, he never brought up the topic again, at least while my mum was in the room.
posted by pandaharma at 11:23 PM on July 20, 2009 [12 favorites]


This led him to quickly change the subject of the talk and, as far as I can remember, he never brought up the topic again, at least while my mum was in the room.

If it were fiction, people would say it was too good a story to be true - so I'm glad it is.
posted by rodgerd at 12:28 AM on July 21, 2009


Worst. President. Ever.
posted by LakesideOrion at 5:49 AM on July 21, 2009


I think women aren't equal to men. Strictly speaking, they're congruent.

(equal measure but not equal identity)


That explains why I still hold doors open for the ladies.
posted by bwg at 6:21 AM on July 21, 2009


Actually, scratch that. Paul was pretty clear that they shouldn't talk either.
Which Paul?


Oh, please.

"Paul" means "the authors we refer to as Paul in order to prevent digressive apologetic wankery."

And really, when the only way to defend a book is to argue that the book itself has been twisted and corrupted to the point that its mythical "original" purpose or intent can only be squeezed out by strained readings that fit one's desired political goals....

Well, then you're underscoring points of the book's detractors. Whatever value it may have once had (debatable itself) is irretrievable anyway, for one reason or another, and so the book itself that remains is of (a) historical interest and (b) of use to manipulative leaders.

Now can we as a species move on? Soon?
posted by rokusan at 6:41 AM on July 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


He might have been a sucky president, but he's always seemed like a genuinely good person.

I can't say that about very many ex-Presidents. And that's worth something.
posted by rokusan at 6:43 AM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


there is no biological or Biblical prescriptive against women in leadership roles

I don't know, Corinthians 14:34 is pretty clear...


There are actually very good textual reasons to believe that verse 34 is not part of Paul's original letter. Look at it in the context of the surrounding verses:

(29)Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. (30)And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. (31)For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. (32)The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. (33)For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.

As in all the congregations of the saints, (34)women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. (35)If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

(36)Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? (37)If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command. (38)If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.

(39)Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. (40)But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.


The text interrupts itself in the middle of discussion of the rules for orderly prophesying in the church for a completely unrelated screed about the role of women in the church, then resumes the original subject as if nothing had happened. Particularly when we consider that this is supposed to be the same Paul who wrote:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

and earlier in 1 Corinthians gave specific instructions that a woman who speaks in church should wear a head covering, are we really to believe that he's contradicting himself two chapters later and saying that women shouldn't speak at all? It seems pretty clear that this particular passage was inserted later by someone copying the manuscript who wanted to put his own views on the role of women into Paul's mouth.

(Paul, by the way, in Romans refers to a woman, Junia, as "foremost among the apostles." Most modern translations find this so unbelievable that they change the name to Junias, a man's name, and don't even add a footnote to say that they've made the alteration. The first-century church appears to have been far more egalitarian than a great deal of 21st century American Christianity would lead you to think.)
posted by EarBucket at 7:10 AM on July 21, 2009


lazaruslong: "Great. Took him 60 years to do it. He certainly would not have done this while in political life. Good for him and all that, but I mean, rings a little hollow to me."

Wouldn't it be the other way around? If he did it while in political life, there would have been other (mostly hidden) forces and agendas and interests at work. In this case, it's a (widely respected) man who no longer agrees with the tenets of his (increasingly extremist) church, and has decided to put his money where his heart is. Period.
posted by Plutor at 7:22 AM on July 21, 2009


His presidency was marred with troubles and he earned a reputation as a weak man and was subsequently smeared by the Reagan campaign*, which successfully convinced Americans that those troubles were imaginary and ought to be ignored. "It's morning again in America."

Trivial example: Carter installed solar panels on the roof of the White House to symbolize the need to conserve energy. “A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.” (Carter, 1979) Reagan had the solar heater removed, along with cutting Carter's incentives for renewable energy, etc. A road not taken.

Was Jimmy Carter a good President? Was he weak? Consider what he says in this interview: I Got What America Needs Right Here


* (Yes the Desert One raid was a stupidly planned James Bond fantasy. Is that the sole basis by which his Presidency should be judged?)


Don't know why you chose my comment as the base for your pulpit, but if I am a fan of anyone, it would be Jimmy Carter. There are a number of issues on which he and I do not see eye to eye, but I am confident to my core that he comes to those positions with much consideration, deliberation, research, intelligence, and compassion.

The link to the "interview" you provided was from The Onion, and the first paragraph should have been enough to convince you Carter hadn't written it. It's too vulgar by far.

Carter failed to pull together support in Congress for his platform. He failed to bring home the Iranian hostages (largely due to Reagan, but the buck stops at the Oval). He failed to turn around a tanking economy. He presided over conditions that made the U.S. ripe for Reagan, which in turn got us where we are now, two Bushes later. He is an imperfect man.

But Carter also created the Cabinet-level Departments of Energy and Education. He started an essential dialogue at the highest levels regarding alternative energy fuels and sources as well as energy conservation. He put more emphasis on human rights than possibly any other American president, and has continued working for human rights since. Carter worked at diplomacy far beyond the patience of most men, much less politicians. He worked for peace in Israel-Palestine (whether or not we agreed with his position, he worked hard for peace) and worked for disarmament.

Since leaving office, he's founded the Carter Center and has been a huge supporter of Habitat for Humanity. He doesn't bemoan the lack of affordable housing in speeches to people in fine clothing, then go rest on his laurels. He brings together community leaders, businesses, volunteers, foundations, low-income families, and makes housing happen. He continues to work in diplomacy and in support of democracy and autonomy. He's been a regular visitor at the Centers for Disease Control for thirty years or more, educating himself about the communicable and preventable or treatable diseases threatening the world's poor. He put his money and time where his mouth is on every issue.

We don't have to wrassle strawmen to recognize that Carter is both flawed and fabulous.
posted by notashroom at 7:33 AM on July 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


There are actually very good textual reasons to believe that verse 34 is not part of Paul's original letter. Look at it in the context of the surrounding verses

Far be it from me to discourage bean plating of a lulzy comment, because I do find the discussion interesting, but it's all a moot point if you're a literalist, like the SBC.
posted by electroboy at 8:10 AM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: I know a fuckload about Christianity.
posted by plep at 8:27 AM on July 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


(These, incidentally, would be the kinds of distinctions that characterize knowing a "fuckload" about Christianity).

Indeed! But I never claimed to know a fuckload about Christianity--that was hippybear. All I know about Christianity I learned from going to church and reading Bart Ehrman. Oh, and watching "Davey and Goliath."
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:06 AM on July 21, 2009


Someday I want to learn more about contemporary perceptions of Carter before & during his presidency. It would be interesting to understand exactly how and when the 'wimp' narrative took hold. In reading the compilation of Arthur Schlesinger's diaries that was published a few years ago I was really struck by Schlesinger's comments on Carter as he was running for the nomination in 1976 - it was all about how cold and calculating and ruthless and scary he was. (Not sure how to link to specific pages in google books or I'd give examples.) Schlesinger obviously had reason to mistrust Carter since he represented a change in the Democratic Party that was threatening to Schlesinger, but the way he wrote about Carter during his rise was extremely alien to the way we think about him now.
posted by yarrow at 9:23 AM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: I know a fuckload about Christianity.

*eagerly awaits jessamyn's next YouTube post*


Southern Baptists are entertaining individually, but scary en masse.

yarrow - With God On Our Side
posted by lysdexic at 1:00 PM on July 21, 2009


The funny but unsurprising thing is that after all the hours listening to sermons and sitting in Sunday School, I actually did not know a fuckload about Christianity. Baptist churches like their Bible study selective, thoughtless, and shallow. To finally sit down and study it for myself was interesting.

And difficult, because the reason I did it is that I was dealing with the realization that I just didn't get the whole Jesus and praying and worship services thing, and never had. Either I was failing to understand something really important, or EVERYBODY I KNEW WAS WRONG which is a bit scary for a kid. (Literally, everybody. Everybody I knew was Christian or didn't discuss it. I was pretty excited when I figured out atheism was not just for crazy evil people or whatever.) So it seemed I should go to the primary source in an attempt to find what I had missed. Which I set aside with a sigh mid-Revelation and became one of those people who didn't discuss it.
posted by little e at 1:21 PM on July 21, 2009


Worst. President. Ever.

No, that was Reagan. Annoying, isn't it?

And yes, I really think Reagan was the worst president in at least the last 30 years, since his popularity amplified his ability to make "progress" on his horrible positions on economics, regulation, the environment, minority rights and just about everything else.

Carter wasn't perfect, but at least he was trying to face our problems rather than pretend life is a big Hollywood western.

And I have no idea why I suddenly felt the need to veer off-course and rant about Reagan.

Back to the topic at hand, good job for Carter on this one. I grew up in a partly Southern Baptist family and it certainly left a bad taste in my mouth. That was even before the big consolidation under a more conservative banner. In Appalachia it was all fire and brimstone, and a lot of bashing of various types of people. They also never seemed to reconcile the preaching about male and female roles with the roles that actual members were taking on in their lives (women working, etc.). It was all just so internally inconsistent that it made my head explode.
posted by freecellwizard at 1:58 PM on July 21, 2009


(These, incidentally, would be the kinds of distinctions that characterize knowing a "fuckload" about Christianity).

Indeed! But I never claimed to know a fuckload about Christianity--that was hippybear.


Yeah, that comment was directed at hippybear in fact but whatever, I shouldn't have made it in any event, it was just a pointless dig.
posted by nanojath at 2:14 PM on July 21, 2009


Wouldn't it be the other way around? If he did it while in political life, there would have been other (mostly hidden) forces and agendas and interests at work. In this case, it's a (widely respected) man who no longer agrees with the tenets of his (increasingly extremist) church, and has decided to put his money where his heart is. Period.
posted by Plutor at 10:22 AM on July 21 [+] [!]


Nah, I don't think so. In order for the first premise to stand (that making this decision during political life would be influenced by the politics) he would have to have something to gain by renouncing it. I cannot envision a situation in which a President leaving his church would have positive political results for him with anyone but a small sector of the constituency. It would have been political suicide for him to do this in office.

Of course, that sucks. Renouncing his church for moral disagreements should get him mad points in the political arena, but in this nation, it doesn't seem to work like that. Alas.


He actually sort of alludes to that loosening of restrictions in the article as well:

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.

So yeah, he was worried about losing votes and starting controversy, so he couldn't do this back in the day. But he can now. That's great, I just wish we had more people who were willing to do the right thing regardless of the controversy. Of course, if democrats did that, we would have nothing but republicans in office. It's the fault of the voters who view these sorts of changes as negative, not the politician. We get the representatives we deserve, I reckon.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:43 PM on July 21, 2009


Rokusan: You may be assuming I'm a Christian or a Christian apologist. That would be a very mistaken assumption--I am neither.

Anywho, the entire point of my "digressive apologetic wankery" is to point out that there are, in fact, alternate interpretations of the NT that involve Biblical criticism and analysis of the text, and that in the views of many this does not detract from the sanctity of other NT texts as a whole, let alone OT texts, and that there remains the possibility for a NT-based pro-woman theology, especially in light of some of Jesus' and Paul's views of charismatic acts and associations with women, and that a pro-woman theology is not necessary a fundamental distortion of the text, especially given the historical context of the NT, in which Jesus was a social revolutionary for even teaching women, the 'incomplete' sex.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 5:05 PM on July 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Either I was failing to understand something really important, or EVERYBODY I KNEW WAS WRONG which is a bit scary for a kid.

That was me in around the 7th or 8th grade in Catholic school.

It got to the point where I broke down crying with a priest in confession around the time I was supposed to go through confirmation, because I was convinced that I was an evil person who was going to hell because I didn't believe in God.

The priest (who was kind of a young guy, maybe 25 or so) stopped me and made it perfectly clear that most intelligent people (including a whole bunch of saints) find at some point that they have a hard time believing in God, and that it was totally fine and that I shouldn't feel guilty about it at all. We had kind of a long conversation, but the gist of it was that I should stop worrying about it so much, and that either God will forgive me whenever I come around, or he actually doesn't exist and so there's nothing to feel guilty about anyway.

It was actually the first time that anyone had ever talked to me about God in an intellectually serious way (despite having 8 years of religious elementary school 'education'), and I found it incredibly refreshing and surprising and actually took a huge load off my shoulders. I still ended up being a pretty fervent atheist and left the church, but at least I left the church with a fairly good impression of at least a few of the people in it (though not most of the nuns)..

----
posted by empath at 12:03 AM on July 22, 2009


Carter legalized homebrewing. Way to go!
posted by djduckie at 7:58 PM on July 22, 2009


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