Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis

 

by Jimmy Carter (Simon & Schuster, 2005)

 

(This column first appeared in the April 13, 2006 issue of ArtVoice.)

 

Former United States president Jimmy Carter is an evangelical Christian who continues to live in the heart of the Southern Bible Belt. Who better then to speak out against the excesses of religious fundamentalism in this country? After establishing his own credentials as a deeply religious person whose actions reflect his thoughtful commitment, Carter ticks off a series of contemporary moral problems on which an unfortunate combination of dogmatic religion and far-right politics is taking us in the wrong direction. Many of the problems derive from a posture of "us versus them." Christians against the rest of the world. Selected biblical texts against science. Entwining church and state. Divorce and homosexuality as sins. Abortions and the death penalty. Subservient women. A foreign policy distorted. Terrorism outscoring human rights. Belligerence replacing cooperation. Preemptive war replacing negotiation. The environment be damned. Carter cites chapter and verse on each of these topics and for each makes a strong case that we should change our ways. He also details the different directions he took as president and continues to take in what has to be regarded as the presidential retirement that has best served this country. To some readers this will come across as self-serving and indeed Carter puts the best face on his record. Despite this, however, this bright and thoughtful public servant - who better deserves that title? - offers much in this extended and well-written sermon to which we would well heed.---- Gerry Rising