By John-Henry Westen

WASHINGTON, November 7, 2005 ( – Former US President Jimmy Carter knows how to play his audiences. Last week Carter appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball slamming President George W. Bush in a fashion perhaps never before seenÂfrom an ex-President, but also last week Carter spoke toÂthe conservative Washington Times newspaper, revealing his apparently new-found strong pro-life views.Â

Stephen F. Hayward, PhD., who last year wrote a book on Carter noted Carter’s political exploitationÂof abortion in the past. In an interview with National Review, Hayward recalled of Carter’s abortion stand: “The 1976 campaign was the first national election after the Roe decision, and the politics of the issue were still sorting themselves out. Remember that Gerald Ford was pro-abortion, while many Democrats, including Sargent Shriver, one of Carter’s rivals, were pro-life. In the Iowa caucuses, which Carter put on the map for the first time, Carter told Catholic audiences (and a gathering of bishops) that he opposed abortion and supported legislation to restrict it, thus cutting into Shriver’s support. But he told feminist groups at the same time that he supported abortion rights (indeed, he had done so as governor of Georgia).”

The impetus for his round of press meetings, the newly released book, “Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis” slams the Bush administration particularly in those areas the administration is most open to criticism from moral conservatives, namely Iraq.Â

However the Washington TimesÂcoverageÂdid not touch on the anti-Bush nature of the book. Instead, Carter said, “I’ve never been convinced, if you let me inject my Christianity into it, that Jesus Christ would approve abortion.”

Carter emphasized that using the pro-abortion yardstick as a measure to test the reliability of a judicial candidate does not accurately reflect American views. “I have always thought it was not in the mainstream of the American public to be extremely liberal on many issues,” Carter said. “I think our party’s leaders – some of them – are overemphasizing the abortion issue.”

Robert Knight of Concerned Women for America’s Culture and Family Institute said Carter’s new stand was “astonishing”. Knight told, “Whether it is a true change of heart or a calculated political risk, only Mr. Carter knows.”

However, Knight said, “his remarks on abortion are welcome.” It shows, said Knight, “that the Democrats understand that the rigid pro-abortion stance is a loser and that the American people are not with them.”

InÂhis new book, Carter slams Bush for “fundamentalism” and criticizes the Bush administration for “an unprecedented and overt … merger of the church and state, of religion and politics.”

In 2000, reported that Carter left the Southern Baptist Convention. Carter said the Southern Baptist Convention, which has almost 16 million members, has adopted policies “that violate the basic premises of my Christian faith,” including a denominational statement that prohibits women from being pastors and tells wives to be submissive to their husbands.

However, Morris H. Chapman, chairman of the SBC Executive Committee, noted that Carter, who was originally embraced by Baptist conservatives in 1976 when he publicly described himself as a born-again Christian, lost favour with conservative Christians after such actions as appointing Sarah Weddington – the lead attorney in the landmark 1973 abortion case, Roe v. Wade – to the White House position when he was assistant to the president.

Carter has distinguished himself, following his short stint as leader of the United States, through his charitable initiatives, prime among them Habitat for Humanity. Conservatives, however, continue to be wary of him because in 1992, for example, he agreed to serve as honorary co-chair of a fund-raising dinner for one of the nation’s leading homosexual advocacy groups, the Human Rights Campaign. In doing so, Carter became the first president of the United States to associate himself with a fund-raising effort in the homosexual “community”.

Knight hopes, that if Carter has altered his views on the culture of death he will also change his view on the associated cultural woes of the homosexual agenda and the porn culture.

See the MSNBC interview:
See the Washington Times coverage:
See the NRO interview with Hayward: