Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Jimmah has left the Baptists

I have always doubted that Jimmy Carter was a believing Baptist.  His miserable Leftism seems at variance with the joy of heartfelt Christianity.  So I am not surprised that he has now left his church -- though it took him a heck of a long time to do so.

He has timed his exit to get maximum kudos from it.  Women's issues are big these days.  But his theology is shallow. He speaks of "a few carefully selected Bible verses" as if that proves something.  They are Bible verses or they are not and if you believe that the Bible is God's word -- as real Christians do -- the teaching is clear: "Women should keep silent in the congregation"  (1 Corinthians 14:33-35). That is a very unpopular teaching these days and few churches observe it. 

But some do and the Southern Baptists apparently do. And one of the world's most Bible-observant groups is the Sydney diocese of the Anglican Church in Australia.  And their theological seminary -- Moore College -- overflows with students, including a big representation of young women. It will no doubt be a big surprise to many but the old teachings often have strong appeal.  They have not been rendered nugatory by modern secular wisdom.

But Jimmah ignores all that in his seeking after secular righteousness.

He justifies his move by referring to the atrocities that Muslims inflict on women, in an amazing example of guilt by association.  What do Christians have in common with Muslim abominations?  Even male circumcision is not required of Christians, as the apostle Paul ruled (e.g. 1 Corinthians 7:18;  Colossians 3:11). Carter's reasoning is apparently that religions are all the same, which must be about a four-year-old's level of reasoning.

Jimmah also claims that there were female "deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets" in the early church.  But there were no such ranks in the early church. There were overseers ("episkopos") and servants ("diakonos") principally.  There were also prophets but what exactly they did is unclear. From Acts 21: 9 the impression is that their role was not part of congregational activities

Sadly, Jimmah gives no references for his assertions but the only women mentioned as prominent in the NT that I can recall were Dorcas, who was known for her needlework and Phoebe, who was a servant ("diakonos") of the congregation at Cenchrae.  In the King James Bible, episkopos was translated as "Bishop" and diakonos was translated as "deacon" but that goes well beyond the original meaning.  Diakonos, for instance, literally means "through the dust" portraying a humble visitor circulating among  members of the congregation.

There is no doubt that women were great supporters of their congregations in the early days -- and Paul greets several of them affectionately in his epistles -- but there is no doubt that there were  well-accepted sex roles at the time too. And the subordinate role of women in the congregation is repeatedly stressed.  See also Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Timothy 2:11,12; 1 Peter 3:11.
Jimmy's religion is Leftism, not Christianity.

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my 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 view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its 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.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. 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.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: "The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn't until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.


There is too much phoney tolerance

A perversion of the t-word is being used to excuse restricting free speech

Tory prime minister Theresa May said after the London Bridge terror attack that ‘There is – to be frank – too much tolerance of extremism in our country’, and that ‘we need to become far more robust in identifying it and stamping it out’. Too much tolerance? Well, yes and no, Mrs May. It all depends on what you mean by the t-word.

There is too much phoney tolerance. That’s the perversion of tolerance which turns its meaning on its head, and uses ‘tolerance’ as an excuse for censoring views which are deemed offensive, whether about Islam or the trans lobby. It is captured in such statements as ‘We will not tolerate intolerance’. There is certainly far too much of such censorious phoney tolerance in our society, emanating from the government downwards.

The flipside of this is that there is far too little genuine tolerance in public life. Free speech is not the right to a free ride. Real tolerance does not mean allowing anybody to rant away, insult and offend without challenge because ‘everybody’s entitled to their opinion’. True tolerance means allowing anybody to express their views, however disagreeable – and then being free to tell them what you think of them. It is about bringing everything out into the open, tolerating the expression of views you don’t want to hear, in order to challenge or expose them. For advocates of true tolerance, the potential solution is never censorship, but ideological combat.

Phoney tolerance has been much in evidence in the UK General Election campaign, where it has apparently become intolerable for a politician such as UKIP leader Paul Nuttall even to utter the words ‘Islamist extremism’. The same phoney tolerance was on display in the BBC’s response to the terror attack in London last weekend, when presenters and reporters tried not to use the ‘i-word’ at all. When Mrs May had the nerve to name and attack the ‘evil ideology of Islamist extremism’ in her Downing Street statement, the BBC could not bring itself to repeat the evil words, but instead kept warning viewers that the prime minister had used ‘strong language’, as if May had said ‘Muslim bastards’ or something.

This phoney tolerance is not really about being ‘soft’ on terrorism or extremism. It is more about being too soft in defence of our own liberties, feeling that it is too hard to stand up for unfettered free speech, robust debate and the right to be offensive. The fashion is for those who cannot or will not defend Enlightenment values to turn this perverse form of tolerance into an end in itself, a ‘value’ to be protected by censorship and self-censorship. But genuine tolerance and open debate should be a means to the bigger end of deciding what society believes to be the truth.

May said that defeating terrorism would require not just a policing and security response, but persuading people that what she calls ‘pluralistic, British values are superior to anything offered by the preachers and supporters of hate’. No doubt she is right that this ‘will require some difficult and often embarrassing conversations’ about what we believe.

Yet in the same statement, the prime minister made clear that her idea of a solution is not really conversation or debate, but censorship and control. She called for ‘international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorist planning. And we need to do everything we can at home to reduce the risks of extremism online.’

This is a call for more phoney tolerance, imposing bans and restrictions on offensive ideas and opinions in the name of avoiding divisions and promoting unity. But calls for society to ‘unite’ are empty if we’re not really prepared to have out the arguments about what we should be uniting behind.

To paraphrase May, when it comes to phoney tolerance enough is more than enough. Instead we need to instil an attitude of genuine tolerance and free speech.

In the first place, that will have to mean distinguishing between offensive words and violent deeds. Contrary to the prime minister’s suggestion, ‘extremist ideology’ and ‘terrorist planning’ are not the same thing, online or in the real world. Words can be powerful weapons in a debate or even a slanging match. But however sharp or pointed they are, words are not knives. However inflammatory they are, words are not explosives. And an argument or opinion, however aggressive or offensive it might seem, is not a physical assault. Yet all too often today we see words treated as if they were physical weapons.

The difference is more than semantic. The right response to violent assault is to end it, as forcibly as necessary – hopefully in even less than eight minutes – and possibly to lock up the perpetrator. The answer to being assaulted by bad words is not to end speech or lock up the speaker. It is more speech – to resist or simply to rubbish the words objected to.

True tolerance means allowing, in the words of a famous justice of the US Supreme Court, ‘freedom for the thought that we hate’. And then using our freedom of speech to launch a ruthless war of words against it. There should be no ideological holds barred, no special-case protections against offensive ideas for Islam or any other outlook. This is not just about the right of extremists to spout Islamist or racist rubbish. Far more importantly, it is about the right of the rest of us to hear and judge for ourselves.

But the champions of phoney tolerance do not believe we are fit to make such moral judgements. They have such a lowlife view of the public that they think any Muslim youth catching sight of an Islamist video will be automatically converted to terrorism, and any white working-class youth hearing ‘dog-whistle’ racist rhetoric will sign up for a rabid Islamophobic pogrom. Their imposed idea of ‘tolerance’ barely disguises the contempt for people who are not like them.

Are our values really so weak that we need to run scared of a few Islamist clerics or cranks? What we need instead is surely a strong-minded defence of a free and democratic world that can give our society the sense of purpose needed to stand up to its enemies and defend those values, just as those brave punters stood up to the terrorists at London Bridge.

In this, I am always with that old Tory champion of true tolerance, Dr Samuel Johnson, who declared that ‘Every man has the right to utter what he thinks truth – and every other man has the right to knock him down for it’. Figuratively speaking, at the very least.

Instead, in what should be the heated debate of a General Election campaign, we have an arms race to see who can be the most intolerant of offensive words or ‘hate speech’. In the wake of the London attack, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been denounced for having suggested about ISIS supporters that ‘Expressing a political point of view is not in itself an offence. Expressing a point of view, even an unpalatable one, is sometimes quite important in a democracy.’ Corbyn’s basic point was perfectly sensible and reasonable. Yet he made it in 2014, as an anonymous backbench Labour MP, when nobody much cared what he said. Now, as leader of the Labour Party vying to be prime minister on the eve of an election, in the midst of a row over regulating free speech online, he is saying nothing of the sort.

May says that there has been ‘too much tolerance of extremism’. Yet in the age of phoney tolerance, we have reached the point where those of us who champion unfettered free speech as a fundamental value of our civilisation can be accused of ‘extremism’. If there is one thing we should not tolerate in silence, it is the perversion of tolerance into an excuse for more self-defeating censorship.


'We CAN'T have it all': Former Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman on why she thinks women are setting themselves 'impossible standards'

At the helm of fashion's most iconic magazine for 25 years former editor-in-chief of Vogue, Alexandra Shulman is an obvious champion for women with ambition. And raising her son as a single working mother for 19 years of that time puts Shulman at the forefront of women who juggle a career and motherhood.

However, despite her credentials the editor says that she doesn't believe that women can 'have it all'.

Speaking to the Sunday Telegraph the mother-of-one says she believes that women are over compensating for their historical limitations.

Shulman, who lives in Queen's Park, London, said:  'Men can't have it all either - but maybe they're not trying to. I don't know why women have created such impossible standards for themselves.

'Maybe it's over compensating: If you've come from being judged basically on your marriage ability and emerged from that through a lot of fighting maybe you think you can do everything. Well I'm a full believer that you can't.'

Shulman announced that she would be relieving herself of her duties at Vogue UK in January this year after 25 years at the magazine.

In her statement, Alexandra, 59, admitted it was 'hard to find a rational reason to leave' but she 'wanted to experience a different life.'

The tenure of Shulman - who lives in London with her son Sam, 21, and her partner, writer David Jenkins - at British Vogue has been marked with various iconic issues of the magazine.

Nicholas Coleridge, managing director of Condé Nast, the magazine's publisher today said: 'Alex has been the longest-serving and most successful editor of Vogue in its 100 year history.'

One of her most famous coups was having the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, pose for the June 2016 cover - after revealing that Kate had initially turned down the request to be a Vogue cover star.

'Probably every magazine in the world had asked her if she would be on the cover, I should think,' Alexandra said.

Her December 1999 Millennium Issue, possessing a simplistic page layout and a reflective, mirror-like cover – giving the illusion that its reader was on the front cover – became the highest selling issue of the magazine, with circulation of 241,001.

More recently, her January 2017 issue was one of the first to feature a plus-size model on the cover - with curvy Ashley Graham describing gracing her first Vogue cover as 'an absolute honour'.


A real woman

Mummy blogger Mel Watts has shared candid photographs of her post-baby body just days after giving birth to her fourth child.

The mother-of-four, from Central Coast in NSW, welcomed her baby boy Sonny George Watts - to the world via a caesarean section on June 5.

And just four days after the birth of her son, the brave mother, known as The Modern Mumma, proudly shared a raw image of her stretch marks and scars.

Comparing two different photos of herself at 30 weeks pregnant and her post C-section, Ms Watts was stunned to see how her body changed within weeks.

'Wow. Honestly it's no castle or bloody piece of art. Sure it's filled with stretch marks and dimples. But this body, this one I own gave me another life,' Ms Watts wrote.

'Another small human to love and to hold. It held onto him for nine months and sheltered him, protected him and prepared him for the day he was born.'

Ms Watts revealed at times, she felt self conscious about her body image - but the birth of her son was everything she dreamt about. 'So many times I've doubted my body, so many times I've pinched and pulled at sections that I didn't like,' she said.

'In reality this body has done everything I'd ever want it to do. Sure it's not magazine or swimsuit worthy to some. 'But to me and my husband, it's the place that grew our babies. It's the place that everything we love most started. And that's all that counts right?!

'We feel as though we need to follow society's stigma on what we should look like when in fact we should just do what we feel works for us. 'No body has the same body. And every body has their own body. Enjoy it.'

Despite her powerful post, Ms Watts took to social media on Saturday to defend her post-baby photo after she received some criticism.

'The photo was unflattering, with a dressing intact. If you zoomed you may of seen some regrow then and the little dignity I had left,' she wrote.

'As the shares reached new people the comments grew wider and further. Some referring to it as a real post baby body, some referring to it as revolting. Which is totally okay.

'Over time I've watched women be put down and slammed mostly by other women for how someone looks. Either being too fit, too fat, too sluggish and too pretty. 'We're all women who have birthed little humans and we're all just trying to do the best we can.

'There is so much bad in this world at the moment that as soon as we stop thinking it's acceptable behaviour to bring other women down it's never going to get better.'



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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