But while he correctly took issue with such practices as African genital mutilation, girls in some cultures being forced to marry before they are 10 years old, and the worldwide sex-slave trade, he also criticized the so-called "income gap" in the United States, where women are allegedly paid about 70 percent of what men earn for the same work, although there are no laws mandating disparate pay, and many women deliberately avoid entering the most lucrative professions where men score the greatest economically.
But what was also disturbing is that Carter said religious authorities have perpetuated misguided doctrines of male superiority, criticizing by name the Roman Catholic Church for forbidding women from becoming priests. Newsbusters adds that Carter also criticized his own Southern Baptist denomination for their policy that women cannot be pastors, deacons, or chaplains. Carter also decried gross abuses of religious texts in the Koran and in the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament, claiming that singular verses can be extracted and extorted to assert the singular dominance of men. Because the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints restricts priesthood ordination and its various offices to men only, I also interpret this as a veiled attack upon the LDS Church, although he did not mention the LDS Church by name. While I won't speak for the Catholics or Baptists, I can assure you that the Mormon doctrine of restricting priesthood to men is hardly "misguided", it comes straight out of the Lord's mouth through Doctrine & Covenants Section 107. The Lord won't change His mind just because Jimmy Carter doesn't agree with the policy or because a bunch of feminists draft letters and petitions demanding change; He'll change if and when He believes the Church is ready, and will announce the change through the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve.
To be fair, Jimmy Carter doesn't have a reputation for being anti-Mormon; in fact, he was previously quoted as saying that he considered Mormons to be Christians, and condemned "Pharisees" within his own Southern Baptist denomination for saying otherwise. But there are persistent unsubstantiated rumors that one of the reasons the LDS Church lifted the priesthood ban against blacks in 1978 is because Carter's Department of Justice allegedly threatened to end the Church's tax-exempt status if it continued to ban black Mormons from its temples and priesthood. Carter himself has never addressed this issue publicly, and LDS Church leaders have denied that this was a consideration.
Newsbusters notes that the original story left out a couple of important elements:
But the AP writer left out two important contextual elements: 1) Christianity's historical and ongoing contribution to the improvement of women's status, leading to the indisuptable fact that women today are far better off in countries which have Judeo-Christian traditions than they are in those which don't; 2) government-encouraged or mandated abortion, which has disproportionately prevented women from being born -- the ultimate and final form of oppression -- and which many religions have done far too little to stop.
Jimmy Carter ought to stick to identifying real problems and not presume himself qualified to judge other religions' core doctrines. His attempt to create a moral equivalency between Christianity and Islam falls flat.