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Jimmy Carter, Sunday School Teacher

The former president on why he believes Jesus will save everyone, and how his faith complicated--and sustained--his presidency.

Continued from page 1

Given your life-long involvement with questions of church & state, do you think the current administration has brought too much, or not enough Christianity into government?

I think the current Administration has departed from two or three things that I was taught as a child. One is we worship the Prince of Peace, not preemptive war.



'We worship the Prince of Peace, not preemptive war.'

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And no other President before has ever espoused publicly a policy of going to war unless our own security was directly threatened, not because we just wanted to overthrow a regime or because we thought that that country that we are attacking militarily might some day in the future hurt us. That's one thing from which we have departed.



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And I don't think there's any doubt that this Administration has also injected the religious aspect of using say public funds in an unprecedented way. And those funds, quite often, have gone heavily towards Christian churches and they've even gone to Christian churches that only accept as employees or only accept sources of their benevolence who are Christians.



So, I think that, in some ways, that has been a departure. And some of the public statements that have been made from our top officials have also clearly indicated a strong preference for Christianity at the expense perhaps of other faiths. So, that is a departure from historic precedents that had been established by previous Presidents.



Can you picture a good President who had no faith?

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Yes, I can. I think there can be a President, a good President, who doesn't have a commitment to a particular faith but would try to exemplify basic moral values and to honor meticulously the historic commitments of our nation through our Constitution and laws, that would promote human rights and justice and peace, equality of treatment, the alleviation of suffering.



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