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Jimmy Carter, Southern Baptists, and sexism
Why the former president is severing lifelong ties with his church
W

ith philandering politicians dominating the headlines, said Ria Misra in Politics Daily, Jimmy Carter just provided a breath of fresh air. The former president said (in an essay in The Age) that he is leaving the Southern Baptist church because it denigrates women by refusing to ordain them and by teaching that women should defer to men. Church leaders didn't listen when Carter pushed for change from within—maybe now they'll pay attention.

Jimmy Carter is being unfair, said James Joyner in Outside the Beltway, because he goes a step further and links Southern Baptist teachings to the "depredations of radical Islam" abroad. In communities where Southern Baptists predominate, prostitution and rape are vigorously prosecuted, girls go to school and to the doctor, and women have "jobs and influence."

You're missing the big picture, said Diana Butler Bass in BeliefNet. Jimmy Carter is only one of many, many Americans drifting away from the Southern Baptist Convention and other conservative churches. "For decades now, the conventional wisdom about church growth has been that only conservative churches—those that take the Bible literally and embrace conservative politics—could grow." But the truth is that neither conservative nor progressive denominations have figured out how to reach the "new generation."

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