Scroll To Top

Jimmy Carter

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.

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.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories Editors