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Jimmy Carter turns back on So. Baptists

Carter Sadly Turns Back on National Baptist Body

Former President Jimmy Carter has severed ties to the Southern Baptist Convention, saying that parts of its "increasingly rigid" doctrines violate the "basic premises of my Christian faith."


-- cpr (, October 21, 2000


Carter Sadly Turns Back on National Baptist Body


The Associated Press
Jimmy Carter has decided to sever ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, saying he cannot accept its "increasingly rigid"doctrines.

Issue in Depth

ATLANTA, Oct. 20  Jimmy Carter, a third-generation Southern Baptist and the first United States president to call himself a born-again Christian, has reached what he calls "a painful decision" to sever ties to the Southern Baptist Convention, saying that parts of its "increasingly rigid" doctrines violate the "basic premises of my Christian faith."

Mr. Carter's decision, announced on Thursday in a letter that is being mailed this week to 75,000 Baptists nationwide, comes four months after the Southern Baptist Convention, the country's largest Protestant denomination, declared its opposition to women as pastors.

In the same doctrinal statement, adopted last June, the group advocated a literal interpretation of the Bible. Two years ago, the group called for wives to be submissive to their husbands.

"I have seen an increasing inclination on the part of Southern Baptist Convention leaders to be more rigid on what is a Southern Baptist and exclusionary of accommodating those who differ from them," Mr. Carter said today in a brief interview. "In the last couple of years, this tendency of the Southern Baptist Convention leadership to ordain their creed on others has become more onerous for me and more difficult for me to accept."

Mr. Carter's announcement is largely symbolic, since he has not had an official role in the national group. But it is intended to influence state and local Baptist organizations, several of which are considering actions to distance themselves from the convention. Member churches are autonomous. The national denomination runs seminaries, missionary boards and a religious publishing house.

Mr. Carter will continue to serve as a deacon and Sunday school teacher at his home church in Plains, Ga., Maranatha Baptist Church, which is still affiliated with the convention.

The Southern Baptist Convention president, the Rev. James G. Merritt, said today that while he was saddened by Mr. Carter's decision, he did not expect a mass exodus. More than 41,000 churches belong to the convention, Mr. Merritt said. And while a handful of churches have left, he said, many more new Southern Baptist churches have been built.

"The vast majority of Southern Baptists are extremely happy with the direction the convention is taking," said Mr. Merritt, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Snellville, Ga. "We felt the need to turn our denomination back to a more conservative theology, and for whatever reason, the president did not agree with that.

"I think it's a sad day for him. It's a sad day for us."

Mr. Carter is the highest-profile defection yet from the Southern Baptist Convention. He not only made his born-again Baptist beliefs a part of his public life during and after his presidency, but also helped move evangelical Christianity closer to the American mainstream.

"He made talking about Jesus Christ a part of our public discourse in politics," said Douglas Brinkley, a historian at the University of New Orleans who has written about Mr. Carter's postpresidential years.

But Mr. Carter's decision to dissociate himself from the national denomination is the latest sign that as conservatives have wrested control of the group over the last 15 years, liberal and moderate believers are giving up hope of having a home among them.

In recent years, a handful of churches have broken off from the national group or joined moderate national networks, like the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, based in Atlanta, of which Mr. Carter is a member. The executive committees of the Texas and Virginia state Baptist conventions have rejected the national group's latest doctrinal changes, officials with the national convention said.

The Texas chapter, which is controlled by moderates, has also proposed to reduce its financial contributions to the national organization. The matter will be decided at its annual meeting next month.

The former president first discussed his decision in an interview published today in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

While Mr. Carter's letter was being distributed nationally by another moderate Texas group, Texas Baptists Committed, he said he did not wish to influence the vote in that state. Rather, Mr. Carter said, he was thinking of the Georgia state convention next month.

Mr. Brinkley said: "In Southern Baptist Convention history, this is a very big moment. The born-again Southern Baptist president breaking with the hierarchy of the church because of their rigidity and dictatorial posturing. I think turmoil will result in the Southern Baptist Convention because of this."

Politicians on both sides of the aisle are Southern Baptists, Mr. Brinkley said, from President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore to Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi.

"Here's Jimmy Carter questioning their conscience," Mr. Brinkley said. "It's like going to an all-white country club."

In the interview and letter, Mr. Carter singled out a provision in the convention's revised creed that called for a literal interpretation of Scripture. He said he feared that interpretations of the Bible would be left to the conservative national leadership, not individuals and their churches.

"I have been disappointed and feel excluded by the adoption of policies and an increasingly rigid Southern Baptist Convention creed, including some provisions that violate the basic premises of my Christian faith," he wrote in the letter, addressed simply "To My Fellow Baptist."

Mr. Carter said he felt no ambivalence about his role at Maranatha because that church did not adhere to all of the doctrines of the convention. It allows women to serve as deacons, he said, and it would not have any problem with a woman as pastor.

"We have never felt a decision made by the Southern Baptist Convention that was contrary to our church's beliefs was mandatory to us," he said.

In the interview, Mr. Carter said the decision to break from the national convention was painful for him and his wife, Rosalynn. Being a Southern Baptist, he said, has been a natural and unquestioned part of his life.

"I became a Southern Baptist when I was 11 years old," Mr. Carter, now 76, said. "My father was a Southern Baptist before me and so was my grandfather. Rose's grandfather was a Baptist. We never had questioned that fact before."

-- cpr (, October 21, 2000.

What has this to do with gas futures CPR? Are you saying Jimmy Carter is somehow now involved?

-- It's the Refinery's Stupid! (whadya@mean?.com), October 21, 2000.

I appreciated this article, Charlie. It kindof reminded me of the Roman Catholic Church many years ago deciding that mass needn't be read in Latin. SOME folks thought that was great, and others just didn't understand why anything should change.

I've never really understood why various denominations have these governing bodies to state policy on what the congregations SHOULD or SHOULD NOT believe or accept. I honor Carter's decision to stand up for HIS beliefs.

It's the Refineries, Stupid: I hate to be rude to ANY poster, but ...never mind...your post speaks for itself.

-- Anita (, October 21, 2000.

Now compare President Carter's actions to this person who views his brand of religion (Baptist) as a PHOTO OP.

-- cpr (, October 22, 2000.

And just in case you think ONLY the Fringe Right uses the BIBLE for Political positions:


-- cpr (, October 22, 2000.

CPR, in the past, I have admired you as someone who stands up for his beliefs, no matter what the crowd was doing. I think your partisanship has blinded you.

I *strongly* object to your characterization that Al Gore uses his religion as a "photo op". I read the link that you provided re: the excerpt from Gore's book. If his belief in God leads him to think that those who also believe should be ecologically sensitive to the Earth, (God's creation,) that is his perfect right. Frankly, I read the same Bible as the rest, and I agree with Al Gore -- trashing the Earth's ecology is inconsistent with Christian belief.

Why is this so offensive to you? Do you believe that George W. Bush's constant references to his religion are somehow more sincere?

Some more questions for you, and I will be very interested to see an answer: Do you believe that depriving 1.4 million poor children in Texas any access to health insurance is a Christian thing to do? How about what is going on with air quality in Odessa, Texas? Is that a Christian thing as well?

-- Just another feminist (, October 22, 2000.

A masterpiece of positioning---Al Gore, the eco-Christian. LOL.

-- Just another masculinist (, October 22, 2000.


I notice you don't DARE question President Carter's religious convictions and that is who alBore should be measured against.

Given alBore's stances opposed to the So. Baptists', you will note that alBore makes not one statement. Lord Forbid....why that might cost him a few votes (if not states).

What President Carter has done is to REBUKE some of the idiotic positions the "Hard Liners" of the So. Baptist Convention have taken in the last ten years. There will be no similar act of courage out of alBore. You will hear NO SUCH WORDS FROM alBore nor will there be any letter to 75,000 other Baptists from alBore.

If he were ever consistent about anything, it would be that he would never ever take a position that could cost him votes.

IN SHORT: alBore. ***USES*** whatever is handy from day to day to promote..........alBore. Scripture is just another arrow in his quiver. He does it because he knows it "plays" to his audience. He is the epitome' of the multi-skinned lizard prepared to change colors as needed.

He has been doing this since he went into the "FAMILY BUSINESS". Contrast that to President Carter or even George W. Bush who DOES NOT NEED A SPEECH WRITER TO LOOK UP "BIBLICAL PASSAGES" TO SUPPORT HIS POINT OF VIEW.

And yes, there is no question that GWB has a deep commitment to his own faith that is beyond the posing of alBore. The story of the change in his life at 40 is well known.

alBore has a "right" to do anything he wants. I hope he enjoys his retirement from public service after GWB is sworn in.

What alBore does NOT have a "right" to do is wrap himself in the typical cloth of most demagogues stitched from "God, Family, The American Way of Life" and then use Biblical passages in the same manner that the NUTS and FRINGERS do..........WHILE POSING AS ANY SORT OF A BELIEVER to propagate his Leftist views of society as though "God" was telling him from Above what was right or wrong for America.

That borders on the same sort of MISUSE the FRINGERS do.

-- cpr (, October 23, 2000.

"I notice you don't DARE question President Carter's religious convictions and that is who alBore should be measured against."

Says who, you? NEVER -- repeat -- NEVER should ANYONE'S religious convictions be measured against another's. Who died and made you "god"?

"And yes, there is no question that GWB has a deep commitment to his own faith that is beyond the posing of alBore. The story of the change in his life at 40 is well known."

So he "found God" and that makes everything all better? You can't seriously consider that an argument! Not to detract from anyone cleaning up their life, but he isn't the first one to have ever done this (and I doubt he'll be the last). I could tell you stories about people who've turned their lives around and it's actually MATTERED because they didn't have Daddy's money or any Trust Fund to cover their butts as your frat-boy did. THAT means alot more than the "poor little rich kid who cleaned up his act".

And BTW, who are YOU to judge whose convictions are deeper?

While Bush may "...NOT NEED A SPEECH WRITER TO LOOK UP "BIBLICAL PASSAGES" TO SUPPORT HIS POINT OF VIEW...", he does seem to need one to figure out what his stance on the issues might be :-)

Is this the basis on which you've made your "presidential selection" -- whether or not a guy can quote scripture all by himself? How sad.

-- Patricia (, October 23, 2000.

There is a slippery slope from the "Bible says so" to for the good of the State". Down that slope can be found most of the Totalitarian states of the pasts which were ruled by the usual combinations of Wealth, Politicians and the Priests for the enshrined "powers that be". Jefferson knew well what he was doing when he demanded the First Amendment and nine more before he would give his approval to the Constitution. And Jefferson was not alone. Memories of the Inquisition and the Civil Wars of England were still fresh in the history books of the late 1700s. The term "Eco-Christian" might apply but there are even more serious concerns about the Kissing V.P. (he planted one on Ms. M.L. King here in Dallas yesterday in front of our Mayor and Pat Robertson). See George Gilder's notes below. My US CITIZENSHIP gives me the right to evaluate whether or not someone misuses Scripture to push his own personal gains. If one abhors the Jim Bakkers and Pat Robertsons of the world then one is entitled to abhor equally those who use the Bible for VOTES INSTEAD OF CASH. The use of religion for any sort of politics whether left or right disgusts me personally. Jefferson and others warned us 200 years ago to beware of such admixes. If the Liberals/Leftists can claim there is danger from "bible spewing Rightists" than I think it only fair to hoist them and skewer them on their own petard. BECAUSE behind the words, the political power of the State can be used "For the Cause" and one does not need to read much history to know where that leads. The history of repression in the Name of God (or whatever Diety has the ear of the keeper of the Police Power) goes back to the pre- Christian eras. There is very little difference in using the Bible to advocate Right to Life and using the Bible to "Save the Whales"/GreenPeace/spotted owls and whatever pseudo-science the greenies/socialists dream up. 100 years ago or more, history witnessed the clash of "God is in league with Riches" vs. the Norman Thomas /Social Christian, "Share the wealth". That does not imply that making political decisions based up on Ethical and Moral views of religion are unjustified. For clearly, most laws are based upon such views. However, to advocate such views because "The Bible says it and therefore it is so" leads down the road to the intolerances of prejudices and the practices of the Inquisition. In other societies, you can see the results in Iraq and Iran, and at the extreme, Hitler's Germany with his unique German god. It has its roots in the demogogues who pandered to the masses (and continue to do so like Pat Robertson). If nothing else, James Earl Carter knew where to draw the line. alBORE is a very dangerous threat from the Left posing as a "centrist" while spouting Biblical phrases. Those phrases mask his true radicalism as George Gilder describes here. He has made a habit of using such phrases for many years though some of it might trace back to his failed efforts to enter the ministry at one point. id=65000446


Internet in the Balance
Gore's policies would lay waste to cyberspace.

Saturday, October 21, 2000 12:01 a.m. EDT

A few weeks back, Al Gore, mocking his own penchant for hyperbole, bantered with David Letterman's "Late Show" audience: "I gave you the Internet- -and I can take it away." This is no joke. While Republicans waste time with captious critiques of the straight-arrow Gore's credibility and character, the real threat posed by the Democratic candidate is utterly ignored. Mr. Gore's policies would impose an energy, tax and regulatory garrote on the Internet.

The Kyoto Treaty alone would be devastating to the Net. At a time when global temperatures are significantly lower than they were 1,000 or 3,000 years ago, Mr. Gore would impose an energy clamp on the U.S. economy over the next decade. Yet billions of new Web servers and Web devices are scheduled to come onto the Net during this period, while billions of now-poor Asians will also be drastically increasing their energy usage.

With each Web device draining as much as a megawatt-hour a year, a billion always-on Internet computers--together with the factories that build them and scores of billions of watt-hungry embedded processors--will account for an estimated total of four thousand trillion watt-hours, or close to half of the world's current electricity use. With the restrictions negotiated in Kyoto, a global broadband Internet cannot happen.

On the tax front most attention focuses on direct sales taxation, but the key taxes imposed on Internet expansion are income taxes. Mr. Gore's most passionate commitment is to bar all tax reforms that reverse the Clinton era income-tax gouges. Mitigated by the one-time effect of the collapse of inflation and thus of real capital-gains tax rates, the Clinton tax hikes have so far had a mild impact.

But inflation cannot collapse twice. Mr. Gore's adamant hostility to tax-rate reductions is already inhibiting Internet growth by halting stock market expansion. With new sieges of taxation and spending, Mr. Gore would create not a delusory "lock box" for Social Security, but a "lockout" of the entrepreneurial economy on which the Internet subsists.

Perhaps most menacing is the threat of Gore regulatory policies and attitudes on the advance of wireless technology. Wireless access will fuel the next phase of Internet growth. But the environmental and regulatory passions central to Mr. Gore's entire career are now driving wireless innovation overseas.

As Eli Noam of Columbia University has said, "If we can agree to oppose government industrial policies to subsidize telecom, cannot we also agree to oppose the levying of huge special taxes on the industry?" Yet the proudest achievement of Mr. Gore's favorite agency, the Federal Communications Commission, is a vast new tax on the wireless Internet.

That tax is the spectrum auction process, and it is already driving wireless development out of the U.S. and to countries, such as Japan, Korea and Finland, that lack the tax. Spectrum auctions are scheduled to collect a cumulative total of some $50 billion (more than twice the industry's total annual wireless investment) and to compound the existing controls on the industry's spectrum use with ever more encompassing financial regulation.

In replacing the previous political assignment of spectrum, Congress was attempting to limit the power of FCC bureaucrats and introduce market discipline. But under Mr. Gore and his friends, any regulatory opportunity becomes an arena of endless meddling and industrial policy. The auctions manage a "market" in which most spectrum is free, governed by capricious rules, and devoid of effective after-markets. When some small proportion is auctioned off at exorbitant prices because the government has made scarce what is naturally abundant, the result has nothing in common with free enterprise. Predictably the auctions have become a briar patch in which only bureaucrats and telopolies can thrive.

Recognizing that start-ups are the font of much technological innovation, however, Congress specifically told the FCC to reserve some spectrum for new entrants, chiefly to what came to be known as "C-block" companies. Embroiled in endless politics, the C-block auction became a disaster. Between the end of the bidding and the agency's actual award of licenses the revenue-proud and pettifogging FCC flooded the market with spectrum and constantly changed the rules. Prices predictably plummeted, making it impossible for the C- block companies to attract financing and consummate their bids.

By now, though, some of the original "winners" are ready to emerge from bankruptcy, pay their obligations in full, and move forward toward deployment. The FCC has flatly refused to accept payment. Instead--to the cheers of incumbent carriers fearful of new competitors (and finagling for the spectrum for themselves)--the agency said it would confiscate the new entrants' spectrum and give it to the incumbent carriers. Undeterred by adverse rulings-- including a U.S. Bankruptcy Court decision that caustically termed the FCC's actions "repossession by ambush"--the agency is litigating this issue in U.S. courts of appeal in the Second, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, 10th and District of Columbia circuits.

As with all forays into industrial policy, the predictable result is to subsidize the past in the name of progress, enlisting government firmly on the side of the largest and most moribund companies and thwarting innovation and entrepreneurial energy. The danger of Mr. Gore is not the quasipopulist hostility to big business he pretends. It is his technical conceit and his all too real lust to control--and take credit for--what he did not create.

In the new economy as in the old, property rights are indispensable for the investment-intensive development of any technology. But when the government's guiding ethic is "what's mine is mine and what's yours is negotiable," companies cannot summon the massive investment required to bring new technology to life. Regarding property rights as everywhere subservient to regulatory caprice, Mr. Gore and his associates live and breathe in the regulatory state. Thus, like the cock crowing at the sunrise, Mr. Gore imagines that his legislative incantations about "information superhighways" were crucial to the creation of the Net in the first place. A cock-a-doodle-doo policy cannot bring innovation, but capricious regulation can bring Internet growth to a halt.

Yet another area where the Gore mentality is menacing to Internet growth is the issue of the health impact of cell phones. There is no evidence that users of cell phones suffer any damage from them. But cell phones inexorably use microwave radiation and antenna towers opposed by Mr. Gore's followers and implicitly condemned by Mr. Gore's book, "Earth in the Balance." Microwave chip factories are dense with poisonous chemicals, and nearly all Internet devices are manufactured with materials deemed unacceptably toxic by some. A Gore administration will be filled to the brim by people who regard an occasional Erin Brockovich anecdote as more persuasive than global statistics of longevity and epidemiology improving everywhere that the new economy spreads.

With Silicon Valley already suffering power brown-outs as a result of the energy fears and chemo-phobias promoted by Mr. Gore, a Gore presidency will be predictably deadly for the American electronics, energy and chemical industries that enable the Net. While foreign countries move rapidly forward with nuclear power and breeder reactors, the U.S. will remain mired in Luddite loathing of radiation and industrial technology. Mr. Gore's policies put the Internet in the balance.

Mr. Gilder, author of "Telecosm: How Infinite Bandwidth Will Revolutionize Your World" (Free Press, 2000), is an investor in Internet and wireless stocks.

-- cpr (, October 23, 2000.

Jewish Court Excommunicates Lieberman

Now what is it exactly which has you all so bent out of shape about? Religious radicalism was it?

And that Gilder fella sure gives Al Bore way too much credit. Almost sounds paranoid to me. Well hell it is, fancy that.

-- Doc Paulie (, October 24, 2000.

"The use of religion for any sort of politics whether left or right disgusts me personally."

Uh huh; unless, apparently, it's being used by Bush to garner the votes of the "Christian Right". Then it's OK, right?

Charlie, my point was that NOTHING -- not even your "American Citizenship" (talk about arrogance) -- gives you (or anyone else) the right to hold ANYONE'S religious convictions up for comparison to another's.

Seems to me that if you're really concerned about politicians using and then attempting to enact their religion as law, Bush is the one you need to worry about; not the "greenie/socialist/leftists" you so cavalierly toss aside (after a good, sound thrashing, of course).

"That does not imply that making political decisions based up on Ethical and Moral views of religion are unjustified. For clearly, most laws are based upon such views."

No argument here; but I'm afraid you've been somewhat blinded in this area. What do you think the basis for the "right to life" "movement" is? I know you don't think anyone has the right to tell a woman what to do, so why is it you seemingly overlook this major aspect of Bush's entire "platform"?

And Doc's right; Gilder is paranoid. Gore didn't "invent" the Internet, but he can somehow single-handedly bring it down?

-- Patricia (, October 24, 2000.

Patricia, it is a joy to read your responses.

CPR, why do I not "dare" to comment on Jimmy Carter's letter to the Southern Baptists? Jimmy Carter has been a blessing to the United States as a former President. He, as the New Testament says about Christ Himself, is no respecter of persons, and has spent the last twenty-four years of his life working for social justice.

Why would I ever question his decision to leave a church because he believed that the denomination in question was discriminating against others? We left our church for the same reason.

If you think that George W. Bush is a superior political candidate because he can quote Bible verses, more power to you. His actions towards the poor in Texas speak louder than his Bible verses, at least to me. I'll be more than happy to join the millions of "fringie" women across the country that WON'T be voting for him. I'm also very dedicated to the idea of a separation between church and state, and it doesn't seem (judging by Bush's comments during the last debate,) that Mr. Bush has that same dedication.

-- Just another feminist (, October 24, 2000.

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