Friday October 20, 2000


NASHVILLE, TN, Oct 20 ( – Former President Jimmy Carter, publicly disassociated himself from the largest Protestant denomination in the US yesterday criticizing the Southern Baptist Convention for its “increasingly rigid creed.” “I have finally decided that, after 65 years, I can no longer be associated with the Southern Baptist Convention,” he said in a letter mailed to 75,000 Baptists nationwide on Thursday. Some political analysts question the timing of his announcement, suggesting the former president of the United States is doing this as a publicity stunt to benefit Al Gore.

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. Apparently, this decision is not being taken as a great loss by some Southern Baptists. Morris H. Chapman, chairman of the SBC Executive Committee, noted today 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 further distinguished himself, following his short stint as leader of the United States, through his diplomatic, human rights and humanitarian initiatives, such as in 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”.

Carter was one of the very few prominent international politicians, another being Cuba’s Fidel Castro, who recently attended the funeral of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

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