Friday, January 19, 2007

"I will never lie to you."

Perhaps the most prominent Baptist layman in the United States is former President Jimmy Carter.

Recently he has been much in the news because of the controversial nature of his new book, Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, and the convening [with another Baptist laymen, former President Bill Clinton] of a meeting of American Baptist leaders [Seventh Day Baptists were represented - note the high forehead immediately behind the Presidents]. The meeting is a step in the direction of a new alliance of Baptists, at least partially intended to counter the influence of the "religious right." It might be asked, why, if the problem is an excessive entanglement in politics, politicians seem to be at the center of the new effort? And why, in particular, these politicians?

President Carter has been a hero to many Evangelicals - particularly Baptists - because his religious commitments have always been public and unapologetic. But anyone who continues to admire him needs to contend with this article. It starts at the beginning of his political career:
In 1976, when Carter tossed his hat into the ring for the presidential nomination, the Democratic party was still deeply riven by the long, bitter debate over the war in Vietnam. Carter's response was to soar above these divisions, downplaying both ideology and issues. Instead, he put himself forward as a man of piety and character who would restore a high tone to government in the aftermath of Watergate and related scandals. Before the rise of politically-oriented televangelists, Jimmy Carter made his personal experience as a "born again" Christian into a key tenet of his platform. "I can give you a government that's honest and that's filled with love, competence, and compassion," he pledged.

When the scramble for the Democratic nomination began, Carter was widely seen as a long shot. But by the time the primary season was half over, he had left the other, better-known Democratic contenders in the dust. That he was able to compete with them at all - that is, to raise money and enlist volunteers - owed to the national exposure he had received for his inaugural address as governor of Georgia in 1971. At that time, with much of the South still clinging to Jim Crow and resisting the nation's new civil-rights laws, Carter had boldly declared that "the time for segregation is over."

Yet the path that led him to that dramatic moment was a tortuous one, known to few outside of Georgia, and it shed light on the man who five years later would be promising voters across the country: "I will never lie to you."[much more]
Source: Commentary Online - Our Worst Ex-President

1/26 More on Carter's "integrity."

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