Has there ever been a former President as irrelevant and ignorable as Jimmy Carter? Recently the man from Plains wanted to express his dismay at the misogynistic ways of Muslim, Southern Baptists, and other religious agents of intolerance. But apparently, no newspapers in the country he was once President of wanted to print his op-ed because it only ran in the U.K. and in Australia. The Rodney Dangerfield of politicians begins his rant by renouncing his denomination:
I have been a practising [sic] Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world.
So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service. This was in conflict with my belief—confirmed in the holy scriptures—that we are all equal in the eyes of God.
I was initially encouraged by this statement. For decades we Southern Baptists have been trying to trade him to the Methodists, though they’ve persistently refused the terms (in exchange for taking the former POTUS off our hands we’ve offered to throw in three pews, a parking lot in Dallas, and a signed copy of Justin Bieber Blog Billy Graham’s autobiography). Unfortunately for us, Carter’s severing of ties is bit of a misnomer—and more than a bit misleading. He forgets to mention, for instance, that this “unavoidable decision” was made more than eight years ago.
As the New York Times noted at the time, “Mr. Carter’s announcement is largely symbolic, since he has not had an official role in the national group.” Indeed, like most Baptists, Carter’s only connection to the SBC is that he attends a Southern Baptist Church.
So Carter quit his Baptist church, right? Well, no. In fact, Carter still serves as a a deacon and Sunday school teacher at his home church in Plains, Georgia, Maranatha Baptist Church, which is still affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Indeed, if you happen to be in Plains, Georgia, you can stop in to see the former President Sunday School class. As the church’s website points out, “A 36-inch television set gives the group a good view of President Carter as he teaches. He will come into that room first and greet them personally before going on the sanctuary.” (Ironically the church says that, “While we admire and respect President Carter, our focus is on Jesus Christ . . .” Yet on the website Christ gets mentioned twice while Carter’s name appears eleven times.)
No doubt Carter will receive fresh praise for his “painful and difficult” decision—even though it was made almost a decade ago. When faced with a church that believes that woman are not equal to men in the eyes of God, the martyr for feminism had the courage to limit his involvement to merely being a deacon and Sunday School teacher.
What a long, sad, strange trip it’s been for Jimmy Carter. In twenty-eight years he’s gone from being the President of the United States to the King of Empty Gestures.
(Via: Outside the Beltway)