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Jimmy Carter publishes study Bible, discusses faith-filled life
President Jimmy Carter's speaks at an interfaith service in New York in 1991.
March 17th, 2012
06:45 AM ET

Jimmy Carter publishes study Bible, discusses faith-filled life

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) – Jimmy Carter, peanut farmer turned president turned globe-trotting humanitarian, now has another line to add to his business card: Bible commentator. Last week Carter published a Lessons from Life Study Bible, with the subtitle Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter.

With many Democrats embracing the language of faith in recent years in an attempt to win back so-called values voters from the Republican column, Carter's intense faith life is a good reminder that hardly all Democrats are new to the pew.

Since he returned to Plains, Georgia, from Washington after losing his re-election bid to Ronald Reagan in 1980, Carter has taught Sunday school at the local Maranatha Baptist Church, “about 685 times so far,” he says.

His notes in the new study Bible pull from years of Sunday school lessons. “Like the disciples, we should not be proud, seek an ascendant position or argue about who’s the greatest among us,” he notes in reflecting on a passage from the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus' followers are debating who among them is the greatest.

In a phone interview from his home in Plains, he said politics is one area in need of redemption, bemoaning the influx of vitriol and money into politics.

“I always referred to incumbent President Gerald Ford as ‘my distinguished opponent’ and that’s the way he referred to me. When I later ran against Gov. [Ronald] Reagan, it was the same thing, ‘my distinguished opponent,’” Carter said of his runs for president.

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Carter’s 1976 bid for the White House was cast in the shadow of President Nixon’s resignation following the Watergate scandal. Carter was a seemingly squeaky clean and relatively unknown one-term governor, a Baptist churchgoer who became a darling of evangelical Christian voters.

On the campaign trail, Carter proudly advertised that he had been “born again.” Historian Randall Balmer dubbed him the “Redeemer President” in his book "God in the White House," largely crediting Carter with bringing the vocabulary of evangelicalism into national politics.

President Carter works in the Oval Office in February 1977.

But any notion Carter would govern as he taught Sunday school was dispelled when he took office. "I was taught to believe in the complete separation of church and state,” he said.

Carter says he's a disciple of President Jefferson, who famously wrote in a letter that the First Amendment established "a wall of separation between Church & State.”

Carter’s embrace of that idea did not always go over well at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

“I got into some trouble for that because, for instance, I didn’t want Billy Graham, who was my friend, to come and have worship services inside the White House, as had been done in previous presidencies both Democrat and Republican,” he said.

Graham, Carter said, was not happy but later came to understand it.

Carter's presidential daily diaries, compiled by the White House staff to record the movement, conversations and meetings of the president, show Graham and Carter communicated often via telephone and over meals.

President Carter and President Bush pray with the Rev. Billy Graham in 2007.

Indeed, Carter said it was impossible to separate his Christian faith from his daily life in the White House.

Long before he worked out of the Oval Office, he and his wife Rosalynn developed the habit of reading a passage of scripture aloud every night: “She would take a turn one night and I would take the next.”

It was a practice they kept up in the White House and continue to this day, reading through the Bible and then starting again at the beginning. Carter said he and Rosalynn have recently been reading a Spanish translation of the Bible to keep up their language skills.

“I tried to put into my services as president the teachings of Christ,” he said. To Carter that meant policies that pushed for peace around the globe and cared for the needy.

“I was very careful to keep religious practice out of my decisions as president except for moral values,” he said.

In the White House, Carter still found time to quietly teach Sunday school on 14 occasions. He attended services at various churches, including worshipping at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.

The Carter presidential diaries note Carter and his wife attending services in Washington at First Baptist Church. "The President and the First Lady attended the adult Sunday School class," reads an entry from December 18, 1977. "The class was conducted by the President."

A similar entry is written for March 4, 1979.

“I’ve taught Sunday school for almost my entire life, beginning when I was a Midshipman in the Navy at 18 years old,” Carter said.

The majority of those lessons were given at Maranatha Baptist Church, which now has around 30 members. When Carter teaches Sunday school there today, attendance can grow to 800 – passing the population total for the tiny town of Plains, home to 650 residents.

Carter walks through his family peanut farm in an undated campaign photo.

Busloads of tourists regularly pull into the parking lot for a chance to hear the former leader of the free world teach from Scripture. At times, visitors spill into an overflow room with a television monitor, subject to security sweeps by the Secret Service, Carter said.

The church’s answering machine recording begins with the times Carter will be teaching and suggests visitors arrive early, noting the doors open at 8:30 a.m. and that there are no reservations.

Carter’s presence on Sundays is a one-man economic engine for the tiny town. “It really is a huge impact,” said Ruth Sanders, director of the Plains Better Homes Committee, a local tourism office.

She said the seven-room Plains Historic Inn is booked months in advance and that its country diner is jammed. She also notes that Sunday school is the only time people are guaranteed a photo with the former president, who with his wife poses for a picture with everyone who asks after services.

“One of the main things I try to do is to connect the very ancient Scriptures with modern day life," he said. "Either experiences I’ve had or that I believe are things that are interesting to people who come to hear me teach.”

Christian publishing house Zondervan compiled the study Bible, which combines Carter’s teachings and notes with the New International Bible Study Bible.

The NIV translation is one of the best selling English translations of the Bible of all time. Verne Kenney, executive vice president for Zondervan, which published the Carter Bible, expects it to sell 250,000 copies over several years.

“We believe we can find some people we haven’t engaged with the product, with who has written the notes,” Kenney said.

Carter brings some serious credentials to those notes. He served just one term as Georgia governor and one term as president, but is working on his seventh decade as a Sunday school teacher.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Church and state • Georgia • Politics

soundoff (1,124 Responses)
  1. Ashley

    All I can say is ... what a bunch of ugly souled, insignificant, sarcastic, invconvenient bunch of people! Whether Carter was or was not one of the best presidents to serve, I would bet on any given day he has given more of himself in an honest and sincere way that 90 percent of these posters! Look in the mirror, people. What have you done for the world today?! What is YOUR legacy??

    March 17, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Saint Leppo, who drove the wallabees out of Ireland centuries ago, when Saint Patrick drove the snakes out and Saint Larry drove out the saints, being a bit unclear on the concept. But we had plenty of whiskey, so it was a fine day of driving things out o

      Inconvenient?

      March 17, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  2. Sock-Ra-Tease

    So Vumba thinks Carter is the worst President, eh? Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt"?

    Any effort to objectively compare Carter (when the National Debt was 1.4 trillion) to Bush who doubled the National Debt, endorsed torture, initiated an unjust war, and presided over the beginnings of the Great Recession marks your comments as the ravings of a fool.

    Bush debased the national discourse with blatant lies about his opponents, but when he couldn’t Swift Boat a Hurricane he was revealed not just as the screw up that he was but as the narcissistic, moron and racist whose decisions while on the national stage can only be described as FUBAR.

    March 17, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • momoya

      I've always thought that Carter got a bad rap; he's america's scapegoat president that everybody makes fun of, but really, he did a decent job and he had great ideals.. I'd much rather have more presidents who fail like Carter than presidents who "win" like Clinton or Bush.

      March 17, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • Bolloxed

      I have to agree, momoya. Clinton and W were a one-two punch of the worst of both sides.

      March 17, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  3. RestoreAmericaj

    It's Amazing to me How Mean people are, with their comments. Looking for anyway to rip the Man apart. One thing he did was Put solar panels on the White House, If the Next president Reagan didn't take them off, we might of be way ahead in our race to save the Planet....Oh yeah the gas companies don't want that ...Profit no matter what it costs, gotta make that money, It will be Funny if History shows that ONE act could have saved the Planet. that was 1977....its 2012 and now we are going solar again. 35 years later......Now the World is Warming up to the idea, We cannot Sustain this Predatory Capitalism that Feeds Americans Greed, And Now China, has decided it want to Try its hand at Predatory Capitalism .....Instead of searching for Peace ....we went the Wrong way ....we should have been Searching for Green Technology. But now we are broke......And Carter is the Worst President......maybe if we would have listened back then...we wouldn't be the Greedy Nation we have become.

    March 17, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Ted

      You l;ve here don't you and enjoy the fruits of capitalism? Fact is Carter is synonymous with failure, and like is going to happen with Obama, after 4 years people had enough and he was defeated. Thank god.

      March 17, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • Observer

      Ted,

      Obama failures like getting bin Laden? Like getting Qadhafi? Like the stock market UP over 55%? Like no longer losing a half million jobs per month like Bush? Like not starting trillion dollar wars for false reasons?

      March 17, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Bolloxed

      While I agree that Obama is a Carter-level of mediocrity, Obama is not facing a candidate like Reagan who could solidify conservatives around him and pick up enough moderates to win. Instead, Obama is facing a severely divided field, and the candidate most likely to stand any chance of winning plays poorly with both the party's noisy extremist fringe and the moderates needed to win the general election, because of his religion.

      For good or for evil, Obama has it pretty easy. The right is doing an excellent job of beating themselves (pun intended).

      March 17, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
  4. polycarp pio

    Well folks if we were all perfect we would not need a saviour. President Carter did his best. God doesnt judge us by the perfection of our theology, he judges us by one thing,DO YOU BELIEVE THAT JESUS CHRIST IS THE SON OF GOD COME IN THE FLESH? DO YOU BELIEVE IT IN YOUR HEART AND CONFESS IT WITH YOUR MOUTH BEFORE ALL MANKIND? If it is in your heart it will change your lifestyle, people will see Jesus in you, not yet perfected but something has changed. If folks look at you and see nothing but a worldly person, I would seriously question my salvation. Just my 2 cents. PP

    March 17, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
  5. splasher6

    The second worst president in history

    March 17, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  6. Contrary Mary

    Just another disgusting Bible thumper. Tell this lost soul that when he dies, he ain't go nowhere – he will just rot in a box in the ground like all the other Bible thumpers!

    March 17, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      Oh ContraIr Mary,,,, Are there not 2 types of Space as in Inner Space and Outer Space? Are not all things perseived here of Outer Space and that of which all things we perceive do contain things of Inner Space? As our bodies are made up of Inner Space things does it not seem applicable that our awareness once we die is awakened somewhere within the realm of Inner Space?

      March 17, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • Bill P

      Mary,

      This is what President Carter might have shared with you, or should have, had he been so convicted to do so....

      "so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:10,11)

      While you might have comforted yourself with the notion that there is no God and therefore no afterlife and certainly no Judgment, the Bible says otherwise. While God has chosen not to reveal Himself in a test tube or under a microscope for your inspection and demand for proof, He has declared that He is not satisfied with anything other than faith: "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." (Hebrew 11:6) And, whether or not you profess faith in Him during your earthly lifetime, you will nevertheless confess Him as Lord, with undesirable consequences to follow. The article is about Jimmy Carter who speaks much about love, but He distorts the message of the Bible that it is ALL about love and not about a commandment to faith and obedience and profession of faith. The failure to do so has eternal consequences of separation from God. This life. One life. One opportunity. No dice to roll after death.

      March 17, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • momoya

      @ Bill P

      People who don't believe in the bible's fairy tale, aren't worried about it's god or judgement of him.. And for you, what in the universe could make you trust a god who tortures people forever in a pit of fire??. You can't trust an azzhole who would do something like that–get a grip!

      March 17, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Bill P

      momoya

      "And for you, what in the universe could make you trust a god who tortures people forever in a pit of fire??. You can't trust an azzhole who would do something like that–get a grip!"

      This past year, I endeavored to read the Old Testament. Almost finished it, save for the Prophetic Books. That is yet to be done. And, while most folks claim that the "God of the Old Testament" is some sort of mean old ogre, the opposite is true. I only found His deep and utmost lover for His people and His creation. He is compelled to judge us for our sins, yet, grasp this: He sacrificed His Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die on the cross for all of our sins. All of the sins of every man, woman and child on this earth that lives and has ever lived. He took upon Himself the punishment that allows us to escape an eternity separated from God. Now, that does not sound like someone who hates, but who loves beyond anything that we can comprehend. You might ask, then, "what is the point?" I will tell you I do not fully know. All I do know is that He created us for His purposes, for fellowship with Him in Heaven. Our sin separates us from Him and the ONLY thing that He requires is that we confess our sinfulness and belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus (Romans 10:9,10) as the solution and payment for that sin. You see, God has made it almost infinitely easy, but we have made it exceedingly hard by constructing arguments against the one and only thing that He asks for, "belief".

      March 17, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Bill P

      You said, "While you might have comforted yourself with the notion that there is no God and therefore no afterlife and certainly no Judgment, the Bible says otherwise."
      Yeah, but Dr. Seuss said: "I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!"

      What's your point?

      You said, "While God has chosen not to reveal Himself in a test tube or under a microscope for your inspection and demand for proof, He has declared that He is not satisfied with anything other than faith [...] And, whether or not you profess faith in Him during your earthly lifetime, you will nevertheless confess Him as Lord, with undesirable consequences to follow."
      He's a despot and a tyrant then? A god who shows no sign of himself, yet demands that you believe he/she/it exists. Sounds like he likes his followers gullible/pliable/ignorant, just like the worldly rulers that use religion to control the masses.

      You said, "The failure to do so has eternal consequences of separation from God. This life. One life. One opportunity. No dice to roll after death."
      Well, if I have to choose between spending eternity in hell with all the cool people or have to suffer in the presence of that tyrant you call you god and his followers, I'll pick hell any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

      Any god who demands his followers to set aside their skepticism and logic, isn't worthy of praise. The god that you describe is a despicable low life. You can have him. Even if he exists as you claim he does, I want nothing of him.

      March 17, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Bill P

      LinCA,

      Hello once again. How are you?

      You say, "Even if he exists as you claim he does, I want nothing of him." I would pray that that does not play out in the end for you, but you will not be able to escape the consequences of disbelief.

      You are perhaps one of the most prolific and analytical responders that I have encountered. My hat is off to you in that sense, but my heart is heavy with the knowledge that "you do not know what you are doing" (Luke 23:34). "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: He catches the wise in their craftiness." (1 Corinthians 3:19). You try to reason the non-belief in God through logic, yet the Creator is the Creator of everything. It is impossible to fathom, especially with our puny wisdom, His existence. Imagine that we might be imbued with only one billionth of what can be known in this universe; how does that support any logical argument or sequence of logic to dispute the existence of One who is imbued with all knowledge, the One who created all things? Let’s say our knowledge is one thousandth of all knowledge (that is way to pompous for me to grasp). Still too meager.

      Now, given that you do not believe, and yet you are so prolific, maybe passionate, what is the point? Why do you do this? If God, and in particular Jesus as Lord, is simply fiction, it will come to nothing. Folks will be silly and do nonsense things in your eyes, but other than a call to living good and some "guilt trips", why do you fight it so much? It is funny, I am reminded of when Saul, later named Paul (the Apostle), was stopped by Jesus on the way to Damascus (how ironic the contemporary geopolitical events and the Biblical accounts), and Jesus said, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is difficult for you to kick against the goads (sheep prods)". And yet, here you are, prosecuting the concept of belief. You may have thus proved the existence of God without realizing it.

      March 17, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Bill P

      Hi Bill. I'm fine, thank you. How are you?

      You said, "I would pray that that does not play out in the end for you, but you will not be able to escape the consequences of disbelief."
      Don't worry about me. Like I mentioned above, I would much rather go to christian hell than to the christian heaven. Consider the following scenarios:
      1) Your version of the christian story is true. Result: I will go to hell and so do all the cool people. Those that threaten hell and damnation will go to heaven to live with their despot. I end up in the place that fits me best. I win.
      2) Some version of the more liberal christian story is true. Result: We all go to heaven, singing kumbaya. I still win.
      3) Some other fundamentalist religion got it right. Result: I will go to their version hell but so do all the cool people. Those that threaten with their version hell and damnation will go to their heaven to live with their despot. I end up in the place that fits me best. I still win.
      .
      .
      .
      n) None of it is true. I don't waste my Sundays in church. I don't waste my time praying to allah 5 times a day. I don't have the guilt commonly associated with religion. Etc. Everybody dies in the end, never feel or experience a thing, or to be heard from again. I still win.

      So, there really is no way I can lose ;)

      You said, "You are perhaps one of the most prolific and analytical responders that I have encountered."
      I try. I try because it befuddles me and saddens me to see adults pin their hopes of an afterlife on a fable. It angers me to see how many people are hurt because of it. How much time is wasted and how many lives are ruined by it.

      You said, "but my heart is heavy with the knowledge that "you do not know what you are doing" (Luke 23:34)."
      Yet, you quote from a book for which there is not a single shred of evidence that it contains any truth about the fundamental premise of it, namely that there is a god. Without that evidence, and you've acknowledged above that there may not be any, the story is nothing more than a fable. Not worthy of serious consideration.

      You said, "Now, given that you do not believe, and yet you are so prolific, maybe passionate, what is the point? Why do you do this? If God, and in particular Jesus as Lord, is simply fiction, it will come to nothing. Folks will be silly and do nonsense things in your eyes, but other than a call to living good and some "guilt trips", why do you fight it so much?"
      As I alluded to above, I think that the unfounded belief in these fables causes too much pain and suffering. If I can open the eyes and mind of a single reader (I've pretty much accepted that the posters are beyond reach), I will have helped our society.

      You said, "It is funny, I am reminded of when Saul, later named Paul (the Apostle), was stopped by Jesus on the way to Damascus (how ironic the contemporary geopolitical events and the Biblical accounts), and Jesus said, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is difficult for you to kick against the goads (sheep prods)". And yet, here you are, prosecuting the concept of belief. You may have thus proved the existence of God without realizing it."
      No, circular reasoning doesn't quite constitute proof.

      If I told you I was the second coming of Christ, would you believe me? Mind you, I may be testing you. I may be pretending to be an atheist to test the faith of believers like you. Anyone who doesn't believe I am, may end up in hell for an eternity. I fully expect (and I'm fairy confident) that you will reject me as your savior, but you will do so at your own peril. Not to worry, I'm not the second coming of Christ, but how can you tell (or am I?).

      Just because someone disputes the claim that Jesus was special, doesn't prove that he was.

      March 18, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Bill P

      LinCA,

      And there we have it. Put all of the logic aside and certain assumptions – I have no idea exactly what Heaven will be like just as you do not know exactly what hell will be like. (Maybe your “cool” friends won't be so cool when they get there.)

      God short-circuits the entire "is God real" argument by declaring, I quoted this before, that, "without faith it is impossible to please Him". A quandary is: how does one believe if there is not sufficient foundation (as demanded by some) for an individual to be led in the direction of belief? I believe that Romans chapter one addresses this.

      Before we could even argue the matter, the Bible (whether one believes it or not) declares that, "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?" In other words, as a part of your logic, you must consider the possibility that there is a factor involved which, unbeknownst to you, is leading you to the wrong conclusion. That would apply to myself as well.

      Now, if a person is willing to believe and know the truth, I believe that it is possible for that person to find the truth. In your case, you would have to overcome great skepticism. In my case, I really cannot explain it, nor do I have a petri dish or microscope slide to offer as evidence, but I came to know Jesus as my Savior and I am just as certain of His love for me today as nearly 45 years ago. Kind of like Job, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.” (Job 19:25). Job was a person put to the test beyond anything that you or I could imagine, and he was steadfast in his belief for and greatly loved the Lord. God specifically cited Job as being “righteous” in His eyes because of his (Job’s) faith (fear of the Lord). Satan then put that to the test. Job was rich, didn’t give or cater to the poor (the liberals will hate this), had lots of land, and had a happy, large, and prosperous family. He even did some “whoa is me" whining while Satan was messing with him. Yet, God counted him as righteous. Faith.

      On the matter of heaven and hell. The bible gives some snippets of info on the two places in question:

      Heaven: streets and walls of gold, jewels and pearls, no more tears or sorrow, etc.
      Hell: lake of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (great sorrow and lamenting), torments, etc.

      So we should have no illusions, you or I, that we know exactly what eternity holds for us save for the simplicity of “believe” or “believe not”. The Apostle Paul said, “for now we look through a glass darkly …” For example, I am a musician. I say this not as a boast. Since I am an "unknown", clearly, I have nothing to boast about. But I like to play the piano, I think that I am pretty good, and I wondered, would I have a piano to play in Heaven? And, after about a quarter way through eternity, would I then be bored with it? I have no idea. But I am glad that I don't know. And I think God likes it that way as well.

      As to how I am doing? Blessed! However, the doctor says my kidneys will fail in one to three years, maybe sooner, maybe never. Many tests, many drugs later. Oh, how I love the exactness of the medical industry! But, here, LinCA, I will share this with you. Despite what may come of my body, when I die – actually we will all die – I will fall right into the bosom of Jesus. Not because I am some worthy person or longsuffering saint, but because Jesus died for me that that might happen. And, it is all about faith. Nothing else.

      March 18, 2012 at 2:43 am |
    • LinCA

      @Bill P

      You said, "And there we have it. Put all of the logic aside and certain assumptions – I have no idea exactly what Heaven will be like just as you do not know exactly what hell will be like. (Maybe your “cool” friends won't be so cool when they get there.)"
      I really don't worry about it for even a minute. I don't have any reason to believe I go anywhere after I die, other than in a box in the ground or the fires of a crematory.

      You said, "God short-circuits the entire "is God real" argument by declaring, I quoted this before, that, "without faith it is impossible to please Him". A quandary is: how does one believe if there is not sufficient foundation (as demanded by some) for an individual to be led in the direction of belief? I believe that Romans chapter one addresses this."
      It is actually your religion that side steps the issue, yielding the desired result for believers, yet it is entirely unconvincing for those that are not.

      You said, "Before we could even argue the matter, the Bible (whether one believes it or not) declares that, "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked."
      Whether what the bible declares is relevant depends entirely on whether one believes it to hold anything in the vicinity of the truth. i don't base anything I do, or don't do, on anything in the bible because I reject it as a legitimate source.

      You said, "Who can know it?" In other words, as a part of your logic, you must consider the possibility that there is a factor involved which, unbeknownst to you, is leading you to the wrong conclusion. That would apply to myself as well."
      I accept that there is a slim, non-zero chance that the basic premise of the bible could possibly be true. That chance is so small that it is unreasonable to lend it much credence, let alone base your life on.

      You said, "Now, if a person is willing to believe and know the truth, I believe that it is possible for that person to find the truth."
      I would like to know the truth, but "just believing" isn't going to get me there.

      You said, "In your case, you would have to overcome great skepticism."
      You say that as if you consider skepticism is something to overcome. I consider skepticism a virtue. Without it, we'd still be stuck in caves.

      You said, "In my case, I really cannot explain it, nor do I have a petri dish or microscope slide to offer as evidence, but I came to know Jesus as my Savior and I am just as certain of His love for me today as nearly 45 years ago."
      I accept, without question, that you firmly believe. I accept you as a witness to the fact that you believe, as I have no reason to doubt that, nor does it affect me if you did not. But it does not, in any way, lend credence to the story of your religion. All it establishes is that you believe, not that what you believe is true.

      You said, "On the matter of heaven and hell. The bible gives some snippets of info on the two places in question:"
      But, again, I dispute the basic premise of the bible. I have no reason to believe anything in it is even remotely true.

      You said, "So we should have no illusions, you or I, that we know exactly what eternity holds for us save for the simplicity of “believe” or “believe not”."
      No, that is only true if the bible is true. Which, again, is highly unlikely.

      You said, "As to how I am doing? Blessed! However, the doctor says my kidneys will fail in one to three years, maybe sooner, maybe never. Many tests, many drugs later. Oh, how I love the exactness of the medical industry!"
      However much time you have left, I sincerely hope that you can spend it in relative comfort, without too much pain, and in the presence of your loved ones.

      Cheers.

      March 18, 2012 at 3:40 am |
  7. Tony Hempberger

    Carter hated the Jewish people period. If he believes separation of church and state why does he keep the state to be his private bodyguards at church? Amazing–by the way just what did Carter accomplish while in White house? Except save the world at three mile island ,while troubleshooting a complete different Nuclear process than a small ship has...

    March 17, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • MCR

      Agreed! Read Yehuda Avner's book "The Prime Ministers" for some eye-opening accounts of how Carter treated Israel. To this day, his hate-filled, one-sided and and factually inaccurate diatribes against what he calls Israel's "Apartheid" are disgusting.

      He may study the Bible, but he hasn't actually learned from it.

      March 17, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
  8. Phil

    Someone today asked me who is my greatest hero.The person I admire and respect
    the most?Great question! My list of heroes — or at least of people I particularly admire
    — is fairly eclectic. Here are a few of them:
    I’ll start off with someone I bet won’t make most people’s lists — Jimmy
    Carter. Almost certainly the greatest ex-president in American history, since
    leaving office Carter has contributed in countless ways to America and the
    greater world community. And as to this, most people agree. But my admiration
    for him goes back even further.I am confident that history will be very kind to the Carter presidency even
    though political enemies and propaganda today say otherwise. There’s one thing
    no one can ever deny about the man: He was right — and prophetically so — about
    the single most important issue of our age.
    Think of how much better off this nation — hell, the whole damn world for that
    matter — would be today if we had listened to Jimmy Carter on energy policy back
    in the 70s. What if we hadn’t just laughed at things like the cardigan sweaters
    he used to wear (to encourage people to turn down the thermostat in winter) and
    the solar panel he had installed on the White House? What if, instead, we’d
    embraced energy conservation and the development of alternative energy sources,
    as he urged?Think of what sort of 2007 such a yesterday might have bequeathed to us: a world
    where global warming would be far less advanced, our national security would no
    longer be held hostage by a bunch of two-bit Middle Eastern tyrants and quite
    likely the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center would still stand proudly over
    Manhattan (no US dependence on Middle Eastern oil, no US troops in Saudi Arabia,
    perhaps no 9/11).
    Other heroes:Al Gore: The man who rebounded from the disappointment of having the presidency
    stolen from him to very possibly (if we’re lucky) saving the human race.
    Bill Moyers: Single-handedly (it often seems) carrying the best traditions of
    American journalism forward into the new millennium.
    Stephen Hawking: For his genius, and even more for his courage.
    Rachel Carson:For fighting the corporate and political establishment against all
    odds while battling cancer saving much of our natural world.
    I have several heroes but these are my greatest and for good reasons.

    March 17, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • GodPot

      He along with Bill Moyers have something that not a single person at Fox news and almost none of the republican party have, integrity. All the rest just lie cheat and steal their way to get what they want, to try to boost ratings or sabotage a political opponent. The ends do not justify the means and the sleeping giant of the American people is finally waking up to it. They will no longer be able to control all of the narrative with their poisonous propaganda.

      March 17, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • gramps

      godpot, you spread your net of judgement over a lot of people you don't even know....."not a single person at fox news and almost none of the republican party, integrity" I'm impressed that you know the mind of God. Sanctimonious BS.

      March 17, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • Kristine, Michigan

      President Carter is also at the top of my list and appreciate your thoughtful words. Very refreshing.

      March 17, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • GodPot

      "you spread your net of judgement over a lot of people you don't even know...." I watch Fox news regularly just to know what the republican talking points will be for the week, so I can say with certainty that no one that works there has any integrity because if they did they would quit immediately. There is no journalism taking place, it is just constant republican propaganda. You may like to have your ears tickled gramps but they are lying to you to get your vote. Period.

      March 18, 2012 at 2:02 am |
  9. Jon Durham

    Hmmmm... in 1976 Jimmy Carter told us that ENERGY would be the biggest thing we would face in our lifetimes. The stuff that ALL politicians are saying now about energy are straight out of Carter's mouth, 35 years ago. No one wanted to hear it then. He told us that we'd be drawn into middle east conflicts and bent out of shape by petty middle east dictators. He told us that our dependence on foreign oil should be our #1 priority. It was LEADERSHIP. The fact that few were willing to follow is unfortunate. We got Reagan and the spoiled child politics of "NOW!" "WE WANT IT NOW!" So we wasted a couple decades. Hope you enjoyed the 80's.

    March 17, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • RestoreAmericaj

      Jon, I feel the same way....the media made him look bad, and people label him a bad President...Your statement is Right on. And look who's looking stupid now.....all of us scrambling to save the planet, with the Same Solar panels he had on the White House and Reagan ....Who removed......History will show Carter Knew One thing....But No one Listened...Now we are Broke and did not plan for this Day....Who's looking Dumb Now.....People don't Understand the World ,they get Programed by the TV , and believe the stuff they are feeding into their brains......Who's feeding it, Predatory Capitalist ....People who have no Concern with anything but making money....even at the cost of Ruing the World....I bet Carter will not go down in History as the worst President...Once people see what really going on ...Predatory Capitalism

      March 17, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  10. Why does Jimmy Carter look like Mick Jagger?

    OMG they're pod people! Run! AAAAAAAAAGGGGHHHH!!!!

    March 17, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  11. Rod

    Carter was unequivocally the worst president of my lifetime. He is a dishonest, smarmy and incompetent southern sleeze-bag who has spent the last forty years trying desperately to rehab his image. He has failed at this as he failed in his presidency.

    March 17, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • No

      No.

      March 17, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Tyler

      your a moron too!

      March 17, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • GodPot

      It's funny how all you can do is shout rhetoric or complain about how the economy was bad at the time just like you do now with Obama. Try listening to anything other than the poisoned pundits perversely profiteering from prole pinheads like yourself.

      March 17, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  12. PaulBoomer

    I'm an avowed atheist. And Jimmy Carter us a very good man. All my respect to him.

    March 17, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • BFF

      I feel the same way.

      March 17, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
  13. .

    We are in the Jimmy Carter phase of the next Reagan Revolution.

    You betcha!

    March 17, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • V. Riley

      Jimmy Carter does not deserve our admiration. When he gave an interview to Playboy,he ruined his credibility and showed his true nature. He has zero respect for women and should be shut out of public discourse. If he understood the Bible, he would never have offered his voice to a magazine and a culture that shows tremendous disrespect for 50% of the population.

      March 17, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • mcp123

      "If he understood the Bible"

      That the same bible toting Rush Limbaugh types?

      March 17, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Shannon

      Oh yeeeeaaaahhhh. Forget about his presidency, his diplomatic work, and his humanitarian accomplishments. Jimmy Carter was a baaaaaaaaaaaad man because he gave an interview to Playboy! The wretch! Who cares if he's saved and improved thousands of lives!

      March 17, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
  14. Bill P

    I do not doubt his conversion, just the interpretation of the meaning and value of his works.

    On humility:

    Carter’s Book: “Like the disciples, we should not be proud, seek an ascendant position or argue about who’s the greatest among us,” he notes in reflecting on a passage from the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus' followers are debating who among them is the greatest.

    Carter’s Words: “I feel that my role as a former president is probably superior to that of other presidents'. Primarily because of the activism and the - and the injection of working at the Carter Center and in international affairs, and to some degree, domestic affairs, on energy conservation, on - on environment, and things of that kind.” (Interview with Brian Williams, NBC News) Not very consistent. So, which does he believe?

    On spiritual impact in his congregation:

    Carter’s Book: “The majority of those lessons were given at Maranatha Baptist Church, which now has around 30 members. When Carter teaches Sunday school there today, attendance can grow to 800 – passing the population total for the tiny town of Plains, home to 650 residents.”

    What that means: Carter is a “personality”, not a teacher of the gospel. The fact that only 30 people in a community of 650, i.e., 5%, are committed to be members of that church or are drawn to hear him means that they know enough about him to stay away. He has no lasting spiritual impact. However, folks come from all over the world to hear his social message.

    Carter’s “Social Gospel”:

    Former President Carter preaches a “social gospel” not the gospel of salvation. He teaches that he does not believe that Jesus is necessary for salvation but that Jesus serves a purpose to instruct others in social conscience:

    “And I have been asked often, you know, in my Sunday School classes, which are kind of a give and take debate with people from many nations and many faiths – what about those that don't publicly accept Christ, are they condemned? And I remember that Christ said, 'Judge not that ye be not judged.' And so, my own personal belief is one of God's forgiveness and God's grace. That's the best answer I can give.”

    In contrast to what Carter says, this is what Jesus had to say on the matter: “But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.” (Matthew 10:33-36)

    It is not that Carter is not a good man. He seems to be. But he does not offer a valid opinion, in a Biblical sense, on belief. His beliefs are a-Biblical.

    March 17, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • .

      Summed up: Jimmy Carter is a typical liberal idiot.

      March 17, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Carter is more Humanist than Christian

      It's a good thing that the bibles full of shlt then isn't it.

      March 17, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Shannon

      All that claptrap about a "social gospel" is just a cop-out for evangelicals who want to do the opposite of what Jesus taught. Here's a biblical quote for you: "You shall know them by their fruit". Wanna guess what that means?

      March 17, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • William

      That was a good write-up on Carter's faith. Well done!

      March 17, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Bill P

      Shannon – I think you have fallen into a trap. Here you say that I offer "clap trap", yet I quoted a verse of scripture. Is that the "clap" that you were talking about? And I showed the discrepancy between what Carter says in his book versus what he said to NBC news. Clap yet? And I showed, with the given statistics of his church's membership, that he has no real spiritual impact. Numbers do not lie. I understand that a non-believer might not get that. The basis for this Belief article is about Carter's Book and his "teachings" of the Bible. I don't see it. This is certainly the "What would Jesus do?" generation. While there may be merit in judging a person, a Christian, by his or her "fruit", I would look at that based upon the Christian's profession of faith and efforts to help others come to know Christ, not the emphasis of the social works. The social works are good but they do not prevent a person from going to hell. By the way, when you say "opposite of what Jesus taught" do you mean that preaching the gospel of salvation is not what Jesus wanted His followers to do? Before the good works, comes the faith, not the opposite. If Jesus encountered you today, what do you think that He would tell you to do? For me, it would be "repent", "sin no more", and "preach the gospel of peace".

      March 17, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
  15. holyhellministry

    America is found to be true and pure in the sight of the Lord

    Jesus has embraced America with a blessing of faith in the form of Freedom, Liberty and Justice for all

    America’s laws are based upon God’s laws in the Ten Commandments and this is the foundation upon which the nation remains strong and will continue to do so.

    America is endowed with a great blessing and so long as her truths stand her strength shall likewise endure

    For our government is of, by and for its people and thus we are spiritual brethren with these who hold, possess, have and exercise the power of this great nation: One under God.

    God Bless Jimmy Carter

    March 17, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • .

      And God bless the day we voted him out of office, just like we'll vote Obama out of office.

      You betcha!

      March 17, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • Observer

      "America’s laws are based upon God’s laws in the Ten Commandments"

      False. 60% of the Ten Commandments aren't LAWS in our nation and the others existed long before the Bible.

      March 17, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • RestoreAmericaj

      I like that , One Nation Under God...Also IN God we Trust, Or has it become in Gold we Lust, and Predatory Capitalists Show Us how to lie and steal money, Turn a profit no matter what the cost to Humanity, Corruption is Probably one of the Most used words of 2012......I think they forgot about the God part. I'm happy I'm right with God, and everything makes sense. But I will tell you God was not my Driving force over the last twenty years....But Now it is ..and I'm finally happy. I got off the Sinking Predatory Capitalist Ship....just in time.

      March 17, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
  16. tigrr

    Jimmy Carter has been this generation's only true Statesman. He continues his bold and peacful work even not in office – unlike any other current or past politician.
    Shamve the Cheney Bush gang sabatoged his presidency to get puppet actor Regan in ( so they could tell the actor what to say and do, as they set up banking, wars, and other crisis). American lost out greatley, when he was forced out.
    Cheers for Carter!

    March 17, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • .

      Either you're too young to remember the Jimmy Carter depression or you were too stoned to notice.

      March 17, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • GodPot

      tigrr knows how to read history between the lines. Most of the supposed "failure" of the Carter administration was that it wasn't able to endure the massive hole Ford and Nixon had left this country in coupled with the political sabotage from the republicans. He's just to nice to last in the portable toilet reservoir that is American politics.

      March 17, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Shannon

      What Carter depression? The only recession I can remember is the one under Reagan, when unemployment hit the double digits.

      Carter's real economic problem was double-digit inflation, which was inevitable given the energy crisis. There was no need for Reagan to put millions out of work to solve that.

      March 17, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 17, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • Lotusblossom5

      What? So there are a lot of other living things – pigeons, and grass, for example.

      March 17, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • Kristine, Michigan

      I used to think that way too. I started to wonder why God wasn't granting my wishes for the heath of others, no matter how noble, much less the selfish ones. Then I read that studies have shown over and over again that prayer really, actually doesn't change anything. It might make us feel closer to God and that is a good think but, in a practical sense, it's an exercise in futility. The Native Americans used to, or maybe still do, dance to make it rain. Most people know that you can't change the weather, not in the short term anyway. I abandoned my view of God as a being in the sky who grants favors to those who ask hard enough, or long enough, or were joined by many people, or were the best at following their religious doctrines. The God of my understanding is not yours, I suspect, but has improved my life a thousandfold, and I, in turn, can be a positive influence in my community and in my personal relations.

      March 17, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
  18. Vumba

    Jimmy, Jimmy, I am so glad you have your religion, but your legacy will be that you were the worst President of the 20th Century, even worse than Clinton . It must be tough to live with that but, you have your religion. Thank you.

    March 17, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Even worse than Reagan? I find that hard to believe. American didn't become a service-sector debtor nation under Carter.

      March 17, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  19. ropeadope

    Religion is great, if gives the instigators control over people. In Papua New Guinea the men give their "milk" to the young boys to make them attain "manhood", all in the name of religion (60,000 years old, by the way). Anybody ready for some "milk" in the name of Christianity? How stupid can people get?

    March 17, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • ropeadope

      Of course it doesn't apply. We are modern people. We eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ! LOL!

      March 17, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • ropeadope

      Suck it and lick it, as they say in religious speak!

      March 17, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  20. joshhim

    This is spirit of the true leadership in America!
    God bless Carter & America~

    March 17, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • RestoreAmericaj

      its amazing how Angry people are....he hasn't been president in along time, yet he's still doing Stuff for Humanity......The Anger must come from People who are unwilling to Believe there is Something in this World more Important than them....But Now That Predatory Capitalism made everyone broke....they are angry...its wasn't Carter, he Was putting Solar panels on the White house, 35 years ago...Now who's the Fool....Just like when Perot in 1992 warned about NAFTA...no body listened...he's still a Billionaire Everyone else seems to have Money problems......Funny How life works.....People Eat the Lies they are Fed...and Blame others when things go Wrong .

      March 17, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.