by Ben Johnson
ATLANTA, GEORGIA, March 20, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Former president Jimmy Carter has been strongly identified as a “Born Again” Christian and as a liberal Democrat for nearly five decades. He is once more blending those roles as he promotes “his” latest book, his own study Bible.
The NIV Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter contains the full text of the New International Version of the Bible and the former president’s prayers, reflections, and asides.
During his book tour to promote a study of the Scriptures, Carter mentioned he supports same-sex “marriage.”
President Carter told Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, senior religion editor of The Huffington Post:
Homosexuality was well known in the ancient world, well before Christ was born and Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things – he never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies. (Emphasis added.)
However, he said he drew the line, “maybe arbitrarily, in requiring by law that churches must marry people.”
“If a church decides not to, then government laws shouldn’t require them to,” he said, adding his own church accepts “gay members on an equal basis.”
When Raushenbush pressed him about whether he believed the Bible is God’s word, Carter answered, “the basic principles of the Bible are taught by God, but written down by human beings deprived of modern day knowledge. So there is some fallibility in the writings of the Bible. But the basic principles are applicable to my life and I don’t find any conflict among them.”
“There are many verses in the Bible that you could interpret very rigidly,” Carter said, “and that makes you ultimately into a fundamentalist.”
“Fundamentalists,” he wrote in his 2005 book Our Endangered Values, tend “to demagogue emotional issues” and “are often angry and sometimes resort to verbal or even physical abuse against those who interfere with the implementation of their agenda.” Carter applied this term to figures as divergent as the Ayatollah Khomeini and Pope John Paul II, to atheist neoconservatives and his fellow Baptists.
He contended the “mandated subservience of women by Christian fundamentalists” contributes to the Islamic practice of female genital mutilation.
Carter wrote that he exchanged harsh words with the late Pope John Paul II during a state visit over what Carter classified as the Pope’s “perpetuation of the subservience of women.” He added, “there was more harshness when we turned to the subject of ‘liberation theology’.”
The former president, who has released recordings of the Sunday School classes he teaches and written previous books about the Bible, disassociated himself from the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000. He and former President Bill Clinton attempted to realign the Baptist faith in a more liberal direction by calling for a new Baptist convention in 2008. The formation of this new Baptist body, he wrote, constituted an “historic event for the Baptists in this country and perhaps for Christianity.”
Carter, whose single term in office was marred by turbulence at home and abroad, has denounced those who disagree with his political views in strident terms.
Pro-lifers, Carter wrote, “do not extend their concern to the baby who is born.” He instead suggested the nation support contraceptive sex education, taxpayer funding of international “family planning,” and embryonic stem cell research.
In addition to nuptial vows, Carter encouraged the military to end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in 2007, and in 2010, he told the website Big Think it was time to elect “a gay person” as president.
The new study Bible, published by Zondervan, is available from bookstores nationwide.