It has been two years since Jimmy Carter won the presidency of the United States on a platform that pledged, in part, that he would bring newness of spirit to the American people. He was a confessed “born again” Christian; ergo, he was a moral person.
The fact that CHRISTIANITY TODAY is running articles on Carter’s morality indicates that there is still doubt in the minds of many people, including evangelicals, as to how moral the president really is and how well he has integrated his belief in Christ with the demands of his office.
I have a sense of confidence in his morality. But my confidence is tempered by what I perceive as serious or potentially serious problems. First, private morality. During the 1976 campaign, the people I associate with—reporters, by nature a cynical lot—treated Carter’s faith as somewhat suspect, perhaps a device for winning the votes of the millions of Americans who viewed themselves as born-again Christians. Some people wondered whether they wanted a person who actively said he prayed for guidance from God to occupy the office holding the key to unleashing a nuclear attack.
That has changed. Nearly every reporter I know accepts the genuineness of Carter’s Christian experience, just as I do. Even those reporters who are not especially endeared to him as a person or endeared with his political positions concede that he is a devout Christian. One of my colleagues has said on occasion, “All Jimmy Carter cares about is God and Sunday school. The best way to get to know him is to hear him teach Sunday school.”
In his right-front pew at church each Sunday, Carter begins the worship hour in prayer by leaning far forward, bowing his head and resting it on his hand. Nowhere does he so obviously feel “at home” ...1
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