Religion and Human Rights: An Interview with Jimmy Carter (Part 2)


The following is part two of my interview with Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States. Click HERE to view the first installment. JM: When the Southern Baptist Convention asserted that wives should submit to their husbands, you famously severed ties with the denomination. Do you stand by that decision?

JC: Yes, I do. The policy of the Southern Baptist Convention today is that women should not serve as leaders in the church, they should not serve as pastors and chaplains and deacons in the church. And in some of the Southern Baptist seminaries—not all of them—there is a prohibition against women teaching a class that has boys in the classroom. So this is a policy of the Southern Baptist Convention. And they acknowledge that in other places in the Bible it says that husbands should treat their wives with the same reverence that they treat Jesus Christ and so forth, so there is a balancing that needs to happen there with the Southern Baptist leaders.

I belong to a church in Plains that has a man pastor and a woman pastor. We have six deacons and it so happens that, at the present time, half of them are women and half of them are men. My wife happens to be a deacon now in our church. That would not be permitted—or approved, let’s say—in a Southern Baptist church.

JM: What would be your message to the Southern Baptist Convention today?

A: I think that women should be treated exactly equal with men. That was basically what was done in their past history, and it is what a lot of people believe, even those of us who have some ties with the Southern Baptist Convention.

JM: A lot has changed since you were President. When you look at our country today, what gives you the most hope?


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