Leslie Salzillo 
Daily Kos member
For most of his life, Jimmy Carter has been an advocate for human rights. In 1982, one year after leaving the Oval Office, the former US President and his wife Rosalynn Carter, founded the Carter Center, dedicated to advancing peace and health worldwide. Still an activist at 90, Carter has authored 28 books, including a new book in 2014 called, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power.

Over the years, Jimmy Carter, a devout Christian, has become a very strong proponent of women's rights, to a point where he has spoken out against the falsehoods and extremism we see within the 'religion' of Christianity today. In 2009, he penned an open letter, severing ties with the mega SBC/Southern Baptist Convention, after being a member of the Convention for 60 years. Carter said the decision was difficult and painful, yet 'unavoidable,' after the Convention leaders chose to take bible verses out of context and claim 'Eve' was responsible to for 'original sin,' and thus all women must be subservient to men. In Carter's aforementioned open letter, he expands on his reasons and concerns:

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 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.

Carter states how the subjugation of women was not always a part of Christianity.  

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 

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.

In his letter, Carter discusses the independent group of global leaders to which he belongs, called The Elders. Founded by the late Nelson Mandela, the members have come together on this issue and collectively published this statement to all religious leaders around the world:"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." This discrimination can and must end says Carter. He believes it's within our power:

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.

Thank you, Mr. Carter, not only for the work you do for the sake of our daughters, our granddaughters, and their daughters, but also for our sons, grandsons, and the whole of humanity. Thank you, to you and Rosalynn for creating The Carter Center. And thank you for living by example. You are a good and true man, and this world is a better place by your presence.

Special thanks to Indiana Progressives on Facebook for sharing the original piece inTheAge.com, and to Sixty-Something, Leevank and the Daily Kos community for helping to make this story stronger.

By Colleen Curry

March 30, 2015 | 3:50 pm
Indiana lawmakers are hastening to draft and pass language this week that will "clarify" the state's newly passed religious freedom law after enormous public outcry. But some pundits point out that the gaping holes left by the law will result in a slew of unintended consequences that might not be that easy to fix.

On Friday, the same day Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the First Church of Cannabis sought and received approval from Indiana's secretary of state to operate as a church. Under the new law, members of the church may be able to smoke marijuana as part of its religious belief system, according to Indiana lawyer and political commentator Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, who first called attention to the marijuana church's move last week.

Shabazz told VICE News today that Indiana's new law could protect many types of behavior under the guise of religious freedom, including Native American tribes smoking peyote and Muslim prisoners being allowed to grow beards.

"It got me thinking, a lot of religions use marijuana in rituals — the Rastafarians, the Zion Coptic Church of Ethiopia — so then I did some research online and under RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] in the state of Indiana. It pretty much says that before the government can infringe on your religious liberty, it has to offer up a good argument," Shabazz said. "So now, when you arrest someone for pot possession, he can claim he's a Rastafarian and those are his religious beliefs.

"It's not a comment on RFRA, it's just pointing out that you can't say you only get religious freedom for your sake or your population, when other people can take advantage of this too," Shabazz said. "It opens up a lot of questions and issues I don't think my friends at the State House fully understand."

The law's unintended consequences may be a surprise to Pence and other legislators, who seemed surprised over the weekend at the blowback they were receiving from businesses and the public across the nation over the law.

"I just can't account for the hostility that's been directed at our state," Pence told theIndianapolis Star."I've been taken aback by the mischaracterizations from outside the state of Indiana about what is in this bill."

Related: Indiana Governor Under Fire for Creating State-Sponsored 'News Outlet'

Indiana Senate President David Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma held a press conference first thing Monday morning to say they would "encourage our colleagues to adopt a clarifying measure of some sort to remove this misconception about the bill."

In addition to loopholes like the potential legality of smoking marijuana, lawmakers were met with a flood of economic consequences. The CEOs of multiple companies, including Apple and Salesforce, have condemned the law, with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff announcing the company was stopping all business travel to Indiana. The consumer ratings site Angie's List, which is headquartered in Indianapolis, immediately halted its plans to build a new headquarters in the city.

"We are putting the 'Ford Building Project' on hold until we fully understand the implications of the freedom restoration act on our employees, both current and future," said Angie's List CEO Bill Oesterle in a statement.

Related: Petition to Move NCAA Out of Indiana Over 'Religious Freedom' Law Gaining Momentum

Sports organizations, including the NCAA and the NFL, are being called on to take their business out of Indiana following the law's passage. The NCAA, which is headquartered in Indianapolis and hosting the men's college basketball Final Four Tournament there this weekend, said it was concerned about the legislation. More than 59,000 fans signed a petition asking the NCAA to move out of the state, while former professional players including Jason Collins and Charles Barkley said the league should think twice about hosting the event in a state with legal discrimination.

A slew of other repercussions emerged over the weekend as well: openly gay actor George Takei called for a boycott of Indiana on Twitter and suggested the gaming convention Gen Con could leave the state, the cities of Seattle and San Francisco have banned city employees from traveling to Indiana on taxpayer funds, and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said today that he's implementing a travel ban.

"Because of Indiana's new law, later today I will sign an executive order regarding state-funded travel," Malloy tweeted.

Sheila Kennedy, a longtime political commentator in Indiana politics and current professor of law and policy at Indiana University, said that the state's lawmakers were clearly not anticipating any of the consequences they are now faced with over the law intended to appeal to conservative Christians.

"The people at the State House thought, 'we'll pass this meaningless bill,' but didn't anticipate the blowback," she told VICE News.

Since Indiana has no anti-discrimination bill on its books to protect gays and lesbians anyway, the new bill protecting the right to discriminate is unnecessary, she said. The politics surrounding the bill are actually about getting even for 2014's gay marriage ruling, she said.

"There was a group of angry Christian conservatives who were used to getting their way and they were badly beaten in the fight over gay marriage. They're still smarting over that. So this was sort of a way to stick their thumb in the eye of the gay community," Kennedy said.

"Pence is stuck between rock and hard place," she said. "His base is the extreme, religious right, so he can't afford to back off now. But everybody else, including the business wing of the Republican Party, is."

Pence and other lawmakers said they will try to clarify the law this week, but they will not repeal it.