Carter, Clinton counter “conservative” Baptists…

Well, sort of. The two former Democratic presidents, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, are teaming up to restore a “more moderate” image of the Baptist denomination.

With the help of former President Carter, Baptists who have distanced themselves from the conservative Southern Baptist Convention announced plans Tuesday for a major meeting that aims to improve the Baptist image and broaden its agenda.

Carter, who left the Southern Baptists in 2000 after the denomination came under conservative control, and former President Bill Clinton, also a Baptist, joined leaders of about 40 Baptist groups in making the announcement at The Carter Center.

“Our goal is to have a major demonstration of harmony and a common commitment to personifying and to accomplish the goals that Jesus Christ expressed,” Carter said.

14 comments

  1. GOPeach says:

    Wow-

    I thought Carter & Clinton believed in
    ” the separation of Church and State”.
    Isn’t it odd that they would center
    religious beliefs at The Carter
    Center – a place where tax-payers
    pay the overhead????

    If Conservatives did this–
    we would not hear the end of it!

    But every time liberals ( AKA moderates)
    do this- we are to all look the other way –

    Why soooooooooo many Baptists???
    Isn’ there One Bible? Why so many
    interpretations?

    Can someone define
    ” A Clinton/Carter Moderate”?
    Can someone define
    ” A Moderate Baptist”?

    I would think ” Moderate” is a
    “state term” and “Baptist” is a
    ” Church term” …
    So ” Moderate Baptist” is a
    Church & State term? Right?

  2. rugby_fan says:

    I’ll ignore the poor logic for the moment GOPeach, but I do have one question.

    You say that liberals are “AKA” moderates. So does that mean liberals are moderate now?

  3. jsm says:

    GOPeach,

    “Moderate” is not a state term. It can be applied to any core philosophy or belief system. Within any movement, there are groups who adhere to core principles at varying levels.

    In this instance, the group is Baptists, who believe, follow, and take the Bible literally at differing levels. I would consider Carter and Clinton to be liberal among Baptists because of their stated beliefs on social issues.

    I’m interested to see how this meeting goes and what its results are. Conservative Baptists typically don’t fit well into the ecumenical movement, because of doctrinal differences.

  4. drjay says:

    its only marginally related but methodist clergy member jim nelson has officially thrown his hat into the ring for state dem chair. i don’t know hoe methodists tend to vote but he seems like a more liberal christian as far as social issues go…

  5. ColinATL says:

    I think this Carter/Clinton wing of the baptist denomination is just a mirror of what’s going on in virtually all other denominations these days. It’s the classic battle of literalists vs. pragmatists, between those who preach the inerrancy of selected passages, and those who see the religious text as aspirational for a particular set of values.

    In the end, although there are many other disagreements, it seems like all of these center around the place of women and gays in the church and in society.

    Just my 2 cents.

  6. Jmac says:

    jsm hit on some points, but there’s considerably more to the whole ‘moderate’ vs. ‘conservative’ battle in Baptist circles that’s been going on for quite some time. Lots of it pertains to church policy, structure, hiearchy … considerably more so, in my opinion, than those hot-button issues the media focuses on (like abortion, gay marriage or ‘wives submitting to husbands).

    The political makeup of moderate Baptist churches is considerably more diverse than the SBC churches. I attend First Baptist Church of Athens, which is part of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and our makeup is quite reflective of our political reality in the community (it’s more Democratic than Republican). However, First Baptist Church of Commerce is another CBF church that is considerably more Republican, and more conservative on social issues.

    The Baptist church is built around the principle of congregational independence, and the ‘moderate’ churches were responded to not only what many of the felt was a more fundamentalist shift in theology, but the fact that the SBC began legislating from the top down, rather than letting each individual congregation determine for itself how it would addresses issues in church policy and/or theology.

    It’s more of a governance issue than anything else. To say, as Richard Land did, that it’s about ‘pro-choice liberal Baptists’ is ridiculous. We’ve got pro-life Democrats and pro-choice Republicans at more church.

  7. Jmac says:

    We’ve got pro-life Democrats and pro-choice Republicans at more church.

    Er … that should be ‘We’ve got pro-life Democrats and pro-choice Republicans at my church.’

  8. bird says:

    GA-GOP,

    Someone please correct me if I am mistaken, as I have never looked at the books of the Carter Center, but I don’t believe the Carter Center receives taxpayer funds. Remember that each President raises money for his or her library/center. Plus, the Carter Center has partnered with Emory and many corporations to fight things such as blindness in Africa. All these are the sources of the Carter Center funding.

    Plus, I’ve rented space at the Carter Center for an event. This doesn’t sound like a government building to me.

    So, now that that is out of the way, can we ignore the rest of your missive?

  9. heroV says:

    bird, I believe that the government operates the Carter Presidential Library, which is not the same as the Carter Center. I believe the National Archives operates the library containing his papers and such, which (to me) is appropriate. He was a President, after all.

    The government does not pay for the Carter Center’s other activities.

  10. Rick Day says:

    They are all going to Hell anyway. what does it matter?

    /smirk

    seriously…anything that divides the christian coalitions (read: Southern Baptist) so they are eating each other and not pushing ‘Family Values’, er, religous social engineering.

  11. GOPeach says:

    Okay -I have a quiz for everyone:

    Question #1
    Are you a Christian or a Baptist?

    ( Some people are actually not Christian
    who attend a Baptist church. They are
    simply a member of a nice Christian
    Country Club for business networking
    purposes or for political contacts.
    They seldom read the Bible – Only
    in church when the power point sticks
    a scripture up for the people who do not
    take a Bible to Church because they are
    embarrassed to be seen with it.)

    Now after saying that…

    Question #2 –
    If you are a Christian – Meaning you accept
    the fact that the Bible is not man’s words
    but God’s Word for all.- Can you quote
    a verse which condones abortion?

    Just one?

    How can a Christian be for the killing
    of pre-born babies?

    How can Jews be for abortion?

    I am only asking questions that most
    people dodge on political blogs.

    The “safe” verbage is to say –
    I am a Pro-Choice Baptist.

    You are not really saying you are a
    Christian, are you.

  12. Jmac says:

    I know it’s easy to try to make insanely complicated issues of morality as black and white as possible, but GOPeach you’ve appeared to miss the point entirely.

    Your questions are set up in a ‘gotcha’ format which isn’t applicable to this ongoing discussion. The current Baptist debate is more over policy rather than theology. Did some theological (and ideological) interpretations lead to said policy debate? Of course. But how to address those concerns is what is at the heart of this matter, not necessarily what the concerns are.

    But you ask your simplistic questions, so I’ll play.

    Am I a Christian or a Baptist? I’m a Christian first and foremost, but I happen to attend a Baptist church because we like the pastor and we like the folks there. As a result, through study and prayer, I’ve grown to be more in step with traditional Baptist theology.

    How can a Christian be for abortion? I don’t think any Christian is, but you foolishly reduce the legality of abortion to an implicit endorsement of it.

    I am a pro-life Democrat, but that doesn’t mean I wish to see court cases overturned, judicial precendent uprooted and decisions that should be made by families made by legislators and judges.

    Am I morally opposed to abortion? Absolutely.

    Do I wish to see it never be an option? Absolutely.

    What do I feel is the best way to achieve that end? By providing more support, more opportunity and more avenues to success for women wrestling with this awful situation. By ensuring they have appropriate options for health care and child care and have learned about adoption and foster care.

    By changing society – changing hearts – rather than changing laws.

    If you fail to see that and prefer to hide behind ‘either-or’ proclamations from on high, then you’re no better than the Pharisees who chastized Christ for teaching on the Sabbath because in doing so you adhere to narrow-minded dogma rather than reach and care for those in need right now.

  13. GOPeach says:

    Jmac –

    You have talked in circles.
    Why can’t you just say-

    #1. I am a Christian

    #2. I am Pro-Life

    Now that wasn’t so bad, was it????

    Keep it simple and don’t budge!

Comments are closed.