Thursday, August 17, 2006

Jimmy Carter shows you can be a good Christian while rejecting the right-wing fundamentalists

By Nancy Jane Moore

Jimmy Carter is a practicing Baptist and someone who gives a great deal of thought to the meaning of Christian teachings. So when he criticizes the fundamentalist Christian right in his interview in Spiegel, he knows what he's talking about.

We quoted his observations at length in an earlier post on In This Moment.

When Carter says that the fundamentalists believe their ideas are God's ideas, he has put his finger on the real danger they present to our country and the world as a whole: These people won't listen to anyone who doesn't buy their ideas hook, line and sinker. They won't negotiate. They won't compromise.

Hmm. The Christian fundamentalists and the Muslim fundamentalists sure have a lot in common.

But the most brilliant part of the Carter interview is when he explains how Bush is applying that fundamentalist mentality in running the US and conducting our foreign policy. He says:
And so this administration, for instance, has a policy of just refusing to talk to someone who is in strong disagreement with them -- which is also a radical departure from past history.
In other words, the go-it-alone, my-way-or-the-highway approach of the Bush administration is yet another example of the negative influence of extremist Christian fundamentalism on this country. The religious right not only work to block the civil rights of gays, to restrict the rights of women, and to perpetuate ignorance in public education, they have also given us a president who refuses to talk with anyone who doesn't buy his distorted view of the world.

And as Carter says:
You never can be certain in advance that negotiations on difficult circumstances will be successful, but you can be certain in advance if you don't negotiate that your problem is going to continue and maybe even get worse.
It never hurts to talk. But more than anything else right now, we need a president who is willing to listen.


Anonymous said...

Look, either Jimmy Carter is not a real Baptist or he's a liar, and I'm afraid I tend towards the latter. He has to know that his characterization of Christian fundamentalists is a caricature. As a fundamentalist Christian, let me make you aware of something: One of the virtues of christianity is humility. Is this guy truly not aware of what an utter failure he was as a President??? I personally cannot imagine how this old fool feels qualified to criticize a WalMart store manager, much less another President.

Diane Silver said...

Interesting comment.

I can't say that all Christian fundamentalists are the way that Carter describes them. Actually, I doubt if that's what he means, being one himself.

However I do know from personal experience that the fundamentalists who have formed the backbone, probably all, of the Religious Right, are as Carter describes.

These are the folks who are giving religion and Christianity a very bad name right now. Their attitudes and their actions are causing serious problems for this country.

I applaud Carter's honesty.

Nancy Jane Moore said...

I don't see how anyone can doubt that Jimmy Carter is a "real" Baptist -- he's been an active member of that church since childhood. And -- speaking as someone who grew up in the Bible Belt and who has been paying careful attention of late to the religious right -- I find his explanation of Christian fundamentalists extremely accurate. I haven't noticed much humility on their part, either -- they are arrogant in their conviction that they are the only people who understand what God means.
Given that we are currently suffering under the rule of a man who is widely acknowledged to be the absolute worst president this country has ever had, I think Mr. Carter is more than qualified to critique the current government, regardless of whether you think he was a good president.

Carol Feiring said...

Jimmy Carter has a huge mote in his eye. He grooms his identity as the compassionate, patient, tolerant Peacemaker. To prove it he is willing to woo and coo, defend and befriend some of the most heinous people on earth: People who have chosen absolutely paths that any civilized person must absolutely oppose in the strongest language possible.

Yet for fellow Christians, like Evangelicals, fellow politicians, fellow presidents, he has nothing but pure condemnation. Where is the tolerance and the conciliatory language here? Where is the “love thy enemies” to work with them, and look past their faults to their good? Where is the championing of the good we can all agree on, the looking for the common ground?

If he is the champion of tolerance and peacemaking that he proclaims, let him start in his country, in that rare brotherhood he has with the sitting president. Let him quiet his "Don't give an Inch" crowd, and speak kindly to those who hold different views.

Until then, those Gandhi shoes he tries to fill are much too big -- he seems a clown.

Nancy Jane Moore said...

I'm amazed at the personal attacks on Jimmy Carter. I know many people don't think he was a good president (though I find he looks better in retrospect), but I thought most people at least conceded he was a very good man. Sure looks to me like Carter does a lot of listening -- unlike Bush, who never wants to hear a point of view he doesn't agree with.

Jamie Lynk, Sarasota,FL said...

It had been about a week since I've read "Hope & Politics"; therefore, I've beem reading lot.
(NOTE: Earlier tonight, I "blogged" on Nancy Moore's New Orleans commentary...Anyway, here I am playing "catch-up".

I lived in Washington, DC when Jimmy Carter was President (also Reagan & Bush#1). I worked for the now defunct Washigton Star newspaper (on the commercial side rather than the editorial). I also remember the rainy day I walked down to South Capitol Street to see the buses drive by with the returned hostages from Iran. I remember the failed attempt to rescue those hostages. But, most of all I remember how it came out later that certain people within the Republican Party apparatus secretly negotiated with Iran to delay the hotage return UNTIL AFTER there was a Republican (Ron Reagan) in the Wbite House. For the sake of POLITICS those hostages had to languish longer than necessary in captivity.

Jimmy Carter is a man of morals, of honor, of dignity, and it's a pity that more people haven't recognized that fact. What's an even bigger pity is the fact that the American electorate doesn't really value those qualities - They want a WINNER.

But, life in a world of current political realities is not a FOOTBALL GAME or a HORSE RACE.

Our very Democracy is at stake. Yes, the world has changed since 9/11 - but, I believe we can and must keep our CONSTITUTIONAL VALUES
(yep, read the articles on Judge Taylor's ruling, too) if we want to be a viable social/political entity into the future.

Jimmy Carter believed in those values and attempted to govern following those values - values which he defended during his military career - values which he believed American followed; but, he
found out America really wanted a WINNER (even if the playing-field was tampered with) rather than a man of conscience.

Nancy Jane Moore said...

Moral values. Integrity. Substance. That's what I'd like to see in a president. Carter had that. If he had any shortcomings, it was that he was something of a micromanager and maybe he was too honest for his own (political) good.
Today we get extremist versions of values used as a political tool, lies repeated so regularly that many believe them to be true, and a president noted primarily for his lack of intellectual ability. No wonder we're in trouble.

Anonymous said...

It is truly sad that so many have found the few that will be singled out for persecution and destruction. Such mad rantings preceded the Nazi holocaust, and such is happening now. It is the "fundamentalist" Christians that must perish for the "good" of the nation. It will happen, and most of you will think that you are doing God a service.

In your extremely bigoted and narrow-minded opinions, have you ever considered that just perhaps President Bush's choices have little to do with Christian fundamentalism? The truth points in the opposite direction.

What Jimmy Carter has accomplished is add to the lies, disinformation, and madness of a large segment of society seeking to defend their choice to purge this nation of those that they consider a threat--a threat greater than that of radical Islam.