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THERE IS A STORY JIMMY Carter tells in several of his books about a newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention paying him a visit in the Oval Office and telling the shocked — shocked! — Commander in Chief, “We are praying, Mr. President, that you will abandon secular humanism as your religion.”
“He may have said this because I was against a constitutional amendment to authorize mandatory prayer in public school and had been working on some things opposed by the ‘religious right,’ such as the Panama Canal treaties, a Department of Education, and the SALT II treaty with the Soviets,” Carter theorizes in Living Faith, as if in the 1970s the “religious right” were single-issue voters fixated in the Panama Canal and maybe — maybe — disrupting arms treaties rather than, oh, I don’t know…abortion.
Nevertheless, it isn’t quite clear why, outside of the obvious political advantages gained by marrying delusions of grandeur to a sanctimonious religion-based piety, Carter would so object to the “secular humanist” label. This is a man, after all, who writes in Our Endangered Values of coming to the “surprising and somewhat reluctant conclusion” that when it comes to alleviating poverty and injustice “government officeholders and not church members [are] more likely to assume responsibility and be able to fulfill the benevolent missions.”
Carter places the miracles of government bureaucracy ahead of those of his own church, yet still wonders why the largest single contingent of Baptists in the country is skeptical of his New Covenant. “I treat theological arguments gingerly but am bolder when it comes to connecting my religious beliefs with life and current events in the world, even when the issues are controversial,” Carter writes in Living Faith. In other words, the details of scripture are uninteresting until they offer a rationale for Carter’s left-wing predilections or somehow justify the four years of tribulation known as his presidency.p> APPROPRIATELY ENOUGH, to Carter’s mind, the biggest trade-off of the Crucifixion may have been gaining eternal salvation while losing a potentially great bureaucratic overlord. During a meditation on the temptation of Christ, Carter muses over the attractiveness of Satan’s offer to allow Christ to rule the world if he rejected God: br> /p>
What a wonderful and benevolent government Jesus could have set up. How exemplary justice would have been. Maybe there would have been Habitat projects all over Israel for anyone who needed a home. And the proud, the rich, and the powerful could not have dominated their fellow citizensâ€¦As a twentieth-century governor and president I would have had a perfect pattern to follow. I could have pointed to the Bible and told other government leaders, “This is what Jesus did 2000 years ago in government. Why don’t we do the same?”br> That Carter assumes, first, he would be a worthy successor to Christ in political office — what, Jesus returns to implement… term limits? — and, second, that the Messiah would spend his post-presidency years doing precisely as Carter did — building Habitat for Humanity homes, apparently — tells you everything you need to know about the Man from Plains’ outlook on this world and the next.
American Spectator Contributing Editor Shawn Macomber is writing a book on the Global Class War.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?