Jimmy Carter

Now, here’s a real discussion about values. In his new book, Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis, former president Jimmy Carter argues that those on the far right have hijacked the country: They have tried to squash privacy rights and the separation of church and state. They are also using LGBT rights and other controversial issues to accomplish their goals. And his tome is a best seller.

BY Advocate.com Editors

December 19 2005 12:00 AM ET

You’re a Christian, but you don’t have a
problem with gay men and lesbians as many other
Christians do. Why?
I’m a worshipper of Jesus Christ, who never
mentioned homosexuals in any way—certainly not
in a deleterious fashion. And when it has been
mentioned in the New Testament, it’s been combined
with things like selfishness or something like that.
So I’ve never looked upon it as any sort of
reason to condemn a person. I think it’s an inherent
characteristic just like other things that we do with our
lives.

You point out in your book that the Bible more forcefully
condemns sins like adultery, but Christian
fundamentalists are less obsessed with that than
with homosexuality. Why do you think they pick on gay people?

This is an aspect of fundamentalism, where they
tend to deal with social issues in absolute
black-and-white. They see that this resonates with
some people as an emotional factor, homosexuality, and they
have escalated it into the political arena
deliberately as a divisive issue. What I’ve
tried to do in this book is to address not only the question
of gay and lesbian people but also abortion, gun
control, the death penalty, and other things, and
[say] we need to get them out of the political
altercations that divide Americans and find some common
ground.

Among your proposals is leaving marriage to the church to
sanction but having the government provide equal
rights for all couples in civil unions, including gays.

I know that people have different opinions about
that, but that’s my own proposal for rational
coming together. If an individual church or synagogue
doesn’t want to have marriage vows expressed by gay
people, I think that ought to be a religious decision.
But under no circumstances do I think a gay couple
ought to be deprived of their rights as citizens.

Why is fundamentalism such a threat?
You see it in the Congress every day: You’re
either absolutely right or you’re absolutely
against me. Even President Bush does that in foreign
affairs: You’re either with us or against us. The
fundamentalists in religious circles believe that they
have a unique relationship with God; therefore their
beliefs are absolutely right, and anyone who disagrees
with any aspect of their beliefs is wrong and inherently
inferior.

How do we make them compromise?
My book had to go to press in July, but
what’s happened since then—with
public-opinion polls and the realization among the American
people about what’s happening in
Washington—is quite indicative that there’s
going to be some basic changes made. The 2004
elections were highly distorted by the fact that 9% or
10% of American voters always tend to support the
incumbent president no matter whether they disagree with him
or not—that sense of patriotism distorted the
outcome of the election. And my opinion is, in 2000,
Al Gore won both throughout the nation and in Florida.

We’d be in a very different place today if that
outcome had been legally affirmed.

I think so—and if fundamentalism
hadn’t penetrated, to such an extent,
Washington and its environs.

Tags: Commentary

AddThis

READER COMMENTS ()

Quantcast