It’s not news when irrelevant people spout irrational opinions, because it happens nearly all the time, but hey – it’s been a slow day.
Let’s get right to it. This week the Carter Center’s Mobilizing Faith for Women conference will ask the question, “Can religion be a force for women’s rights instead of a source of women’s oppression?” What’s your answer?
Well, religion can be, and I think there’s a slow, very slow, move around the world to give women equal rights in the eyes of God. What has been the case for many centuries is that the great religions, the major religions, have discriminated against women in a very abusive fashion and set an example for the rest of society to treat women as secondary citizens. In a marriage or in the workplace or wherever, they are discriminated against. And I think the great religions have set the example for that, by ordaining, in effect, that women are not equal to men in the eyes of God.
This has been done and still is done by the Catholic Church ever since the third century, when the Catholic Church ordained that a woman cannot be a priest for instance but a man can. A woman can be a nurse or a teacher but she can’t be a priest. This is wrong, I think. As you may or may not know, the Southern Baptist Convention back now about 13 years ago in Orlando, voted that women were inferior and had to be subservient to their husbands, and ordained that a woman could not be a deacon or a pastor or a chaplain or even a teacher in a classroom in some seminaries where men are in the classroom, boys are in the classroom. So my wife and I withdrew from the Southern Baptist Convention primarily because of that…
In the Islamic world that varies widely depending on what the regime is in the capital. Sometimes they try to impose very strict law, misquoting I think the major points of the Qur’an, and they ordain that a woman is inferior inherently. Ten year old girls can be forced to marry against their wishes, and that women can be treated as slaves in a marriage, and that a woman can’t drive an automobile, some countries don’t let women vote, like Saudi Arabia.
Yeah, the Catholic Church is just like the Islam religion in how women are treated. Practically indistinguishable. And in case he was unclear, later in the interview, Jimmy mentions the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
How can mobilizing religious communities for women’s rights produce results?
To repeat myself in a way, I think that what the major religious leaders say is used by others who discriminate against women as justification for their human rights abuse. For instance if an employer, who might be otherwise enlightened, if he is a religious person and he sees that, he might be a Catholic, and a Catholic does not let women be priests, then why should he pay his women employees an equal pay [as men]?
In the United States that prevails all over. We have an average now of about 70% that a woman earns compared to a 100% that a man earns for doing the same job. And very few of the corporate boards have I think 50% women. Very few of them. And of course we have a very few percentage of women in our House of Representatives and in our Senate. We never yet had a woman president, but I think that’s going to come in the near future. But I think in general terms this is a very derogating thing.
It is much worse in some of the third world countries where genital cutting is condoned and girls are forced to marry when they are as young as 8 or 10 years old and they have no voice in who their husband might be or when they get married. And you see the extreme case with Al Qaeda and particularly with the Taliban in Afghanistan. So these are the kind of things that permeate society in a very general way and it afflicts almost every single community in America and almost throughout the world. There is a sense that women are not quite equal to men both politically and economically and in religious terms.
I love Jimmy’s logic here: since the Church doesn’t ordain women, then Catholic employers will feel it’s okay to pay female employees less. Never mind that Catholic priests earn less than anybody else in the Church – that makes too much sense. Then again, Jimmy rarely made sense anyway.
I suppose I should give him credit for acknowledging that genital cutting is worse than the Catholic Church not ordaining women. Of course genital cutting is worse, but in his mind – and in the minds of so many people who think like him – it’s only worse in degree, but not in kind.
Hey Jimmy! How come it’s bad to refuse women their “choice” to be a womynpreest, but it’s great to give them the choice to abort their unborn daughters? ‘Splain that justice for me!