Carter Backs Separation of Church and State, Chides Southern Baptists

Church & State, January 2004 | Go to article overview

Carter Backs Separation of Church and State, Chides Southern Baptists


Former President Jimmy Carter reaffirmed his commitment to the separation of church and state during a recent media interview.

In a conversation published in the November 2003 edition of Baptists Today, a publication of the moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Carter reflected on his lifelong commitment to religious liberty and criticized the current leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention for aligning with conservative Republicans.

"I believe in the separation of church and state," Carter said. "I think the Southern Baptist Convention leaders have gotten deeply immersed in politics as partners with the Republican Party. And even if they were partners with the Democratic Party, I'd still object to it."

Elsewhere in the interview, Carter called religious liberty "one of the foundations of the entire Baptist concept" and added, "When a group of Christians try to implant through government our beliefs on others as superior, that subverts the basic constitutional prohibition concerning separation of church and state. And when we try to use the federal government to intercede in religious affairs, it inherently weakens the unique character of Christ's kingdom."

Carter, who regularly teaches a Sunday School class at his local Baptist congregation in Georgia, reminded readers that Jesus endorsed the principle of church-state separation. …

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Carter Backs Separation of Church and State, Chides Southern Baptists
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