u1_jimmy_carterFormer U.S. President Jimmy Carter has announced his departure from the Southern Baptist Church, citing the church leadership’s views on women as the reason for the split. Carter made the decision shortly after the church voted to prohibit women from being ordained, insisting that women should be subservient to their husbands.

Carter issued a statement in The Age explaining his decision, “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 We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices…” Carter participates in an association called The Elders, which works to promote human rights globally.

The statement comes at a time when many denominations have been challenging the traditions and practices of faith leadership, particularly involving issues regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender members. Recently, the Episcopal Church in the U.S. voted to resume consideration of openly LGBT bishops, challenging the Anglican Communion’s stance on homosexuality. The Communion has been divided ever since the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire elected Bishop Gene Robinson, the communion’s first ever openly gay bishop.

I understand…why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield….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,” said Carter.