Jimmy Carter, once again, proves that he knows - and lives - the true meaning of Christianity. A couple of days ago he wrote an article called "Losing My Religion For Equality". The lede is "Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God." In the article, he lays out the reasons that he is severing his ties with the Southern Baptist Convention after 60 years of membership.
My heart goes out to him. I can only imagine how difficult that must have been. As a former Catholic and present liberal Christian (who is not quite smart enough to be an atheist) I have eschewed any formal denomination, because of the actions of many who call themselves Christians. I am a Christian because I believe the teachings of Jesus show the way to the highest, most moral and sane way to live. I also know that many who call themselves Christian will say that I'm not one. But they're right - hopefully, I'm not the same kind of Christian that they are.
My mother left the Catholic Church in the mid-60s. It was an agonizing decision for her to make, but she made that choice after much painful soul-searching and self-examination, realizing that there were just too many things that the Church demanded that she accept without question, and too many areas of her life that the Church wanted to control that had nothing whatsoever to do with faith, and God. She subsequently joined the Unitarian Universalist fellowship, where she found a spiritual and community home, and is active in UU to this day. After we were suddenly 'non-Catholic' I had no further interest in a church, not even UU, and did not consider any kind of faith until I was a young adult, when I began investigating many other world religions. I came back around to Christianity my own convoluted way, beginning with the Twelve Steps and proceeding to the Sermon on the Mount. I find that having a spiritual life helps me to be the person I would like to be, and helps me to find the strength and peace within that sustains me through whatever trials I go through.
But religion and faith aren't necessarily the same thing. Jimmy Carter's belief in God shows how real faith can express itself in the life of a human being. And sometimes that faith must transcend religion to be true to itself. By leaving the SBC, I believe he became closer to the Prince of Peace - and that's the kind of Christianity to which I aspire.