Skip to comments.Former Presidents Carter & Clinton call for 'A New Baptist Covenantí
Posted on 01/11/2007 8:59:58 AM PST by presidio9
Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton have proposed the establishment of a broadly inclusive alternative Baptist movement to counter what they called a negative image of Baptists and to address poverty, the environment and global conflicts.
Carter and Clinton kicked off their plans with a news conference Jan. 9 at the Carter Center in Atlanta, flanked by leaders of moderate Baptist groups including the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a breakaway group of an unverified number of churches that objected to the election of conservative leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention. Carter and Clinton announced a Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant, tentatively set for Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2008, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, which they hope will attract 20,000 Baptists.
This is a historic event for the Baptists in this country and perhaps for Christianity, Carter said at the news conference.
About 80 leaders of 40 moderate Baptist organizations claiming to represent 20 million Baptists in the United States, Canada and Mexico met at the Carter Center for the announcement. Leaders from the Southern Baptist Convention were not invited to attend.
This is an attempt to bring people together and say, What would our Christian witness require of us in the 21st century? Clinton said, adding that his goal is to be a cheerleader for the group.
Bill Underwood, president of Mercer University in Georgia, said at the news conference that the 2008 meeting is meant to draw attention away from the Baptists who have the microphone, meaning conservative leaders who frequently appear in the media voicing conservative views.
North America desperately needs a true Baptist witness, Underwood said.
Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., took issue with Underwoods assertion and Carters and Clintons remarks apparently aimed at Southern Baptists.
Instead of engaging in a war of words, lets do a reality check, Page told Baptist Press. Word games are fine, but reality says Southern Baptists are presenting a positive life-changing message, impacting our culture with our ministries and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Carter and Clinton said they want to counter concerns that Baptists have been negative and exclusionary and promised an inclusive organization willing to debate openly on all issues.
Morris H. Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, said that Carters concerns about negative perceptions of Baptists ring hollow.
He has been one of the most vocal critics of Southern Baptists, using fundamentalist as a pejorative and drawing a caustic comparison between Ayatollah Khomeinis rise to power in Iran and the resurgence of conservative leadership being elected in the SBC, Chapman wrote to Baptist Press.
Chapman also disputed Carters and Clintons notion about a negative perception of Baptists.
Research shows this premise is false, he said. Zogby International conducted a survey for the SBC that showed adults view Southern Baptists favorably, equally to their views about Catholics and United Methodists. Not surprisingly, we fared best in areas where we have a strong presence and the community at large experiences our ministries and is familiar with our beliefs."
Tentative themes for plenary sessions at the 2008 meeting in Atlanta, according to a CBF communications report, are: Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant, Unity in Bringing Good News to the Poor, Unity in Respecting Religious Diversity, Unity in Seeking Peace with Justice and Unity in Welcoming the Stranger and Healing the Broken-Hearted.
Both Page and Chapman addressed Clintons and Carters statements that the gathered group offered something new for Baptists.
Page pointed out that although Southern Baptists are painted as a white denomination, It was not long ago that the Saturday Evening Post described the Southern Baptist Convention as 'the most ethnically diverse of all U.S. Protestant denominations.'
According to SBC data for 2002, 4,742 out of 43,071 churches identified themselves as predominately ethnic, with 2,085 describing themselves as African-American. The SBC does not keep demographic information on individuals, so churches identified as predominately one race may have diversity among their members not reported in the data.
Chapman defended Southern Baptists record of ministering to the poor.
"Southern Baptists address world hunger in many ways, but a good example this past year was their giving $5.8 million, collected by the SBC Executive Committee, with every penny going solely to combat this global tragedy," Chapman said.
According to budget allocations, about 20 percent of funds collected for the SBCs World Hunger Fund are used in the United States and 80 percent overseas.
In the U.S. alone, Southern Baptists provided over 5 million meals, he said. The great difference in our approach from liberals is that in ministering to the body, we do not neglect the needs of the soul, and the Gospel was shared with over 500,000 people with over 32,000 professions of faith resulting.
When we offer a loaf of bread, no strings attached, we also present Jesus as the Living Bread and lives are changed both physically and spiritually, Chapman told BP.
The 2008 confabulation Clinton and Carter propose will coincide with a U.S. presidential election year. Clinton's wife, U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), is a possible candidate and has hired a consultant to advise her on religion. Democrats have made winning over "faith voters" a major election strategy. --30--
Why are Baptists and evangelical Christians always the target of those who wholeheartedly reject Christ and His commandments and principles?
Could it be that the beliefs and adherence to Scripture that Baptists and evangelical Christians profess and live their lives in accordance with hit just a few nerves with the likes of Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter? Could it be that they don't like the nagging feeling of doom they get inside when Baptists and evangelical Christians speak out?
Could it be that the target of the wrath of these two pathetic creatures is a genuine threat to the cocoon of immorality and deception they have created for themselves?
And make no mistake - the real target is Jesus Christ.
we have a winner!
Isn't something like this something akin to King Henry VIII's MO?
I am always amazed by the assumption that an organization is it's hierarchy. In my view an organization is the sum total of its adherents and it hierarchy and the social network in which it operates. We saw that assumption when the Soviets decided to whack JP II. They believed that a dead JPII would end the social, economic and political threat of Catholicism to the Soviets. If JPII had died it would have made no difference in the outcome the it was the weight of All Catholics all leaning in the same direction that toppled Poland's Communists. The rest is history.
Curiously we did the same thing when we assumed the capture and death of Uday, Qusay, Saddam and Zarqawi would end the insurgency. It had no effect. Mass movements happen independantly of the hierarchy. Christ himself is a good example. I suspect hierarchy just surfs the trend. Constantine is a good example.
I agree with what you're saying but if you think the Catholic Church hasn't constantly been the target of the homos, the feminists, the bigots, the socialists, the abortionist, and the main stream media, (aka "the left")then you really haven't been paying attention. Agreed that the Baptist Church takes criticism, but you're not the only ones.
Starting their own religion are they?
Who says politics and religion don't mix?
Will they be calling it the Church of Satan?
Love that passage, xzins! Count it all joy!
I am not up on my Baptists. There is of course the Southern Baptists, the National Baptist Convention (African American) and what about those Northern Baptists (American Baptist Bonvention)? Maybe Carter and Bill can hook up with those.
As a person who was raised Catholic, we don't have the luxury of just forming splinter groups. But I can say that politically the Catholic clergy is on the left of a good many of its members. With the exception of it's beliefs on abortion and homosexuality, the Roman Catholic Church is pretty left. Most Catholics pretty much have compartmentalized themselves into whatever goes on in church or the RC Church's official or semi-official position is one thing and whatever a person does in the voting booth is another. Basically Catholics are very passive and really don't challenge the political beliefs their clergy hold. If a Catholic feels that a priest is too liberal, they just stop going to that particular church. I am sure the Southern Baptists can live quite well without either Jimmy or Bill. Besides, I though the Clintons bothered more with the Methodists (being Hillary was raised a Methodist)?
I certainly do not believe that the Catholic Church is its heirarchy. I was referring to the heirarchy in terms of excommunication. While it is permissable for bishops to excommunicate Catholics in certain clear-cut circumstances (for instance Cardinal John Egan excommunicated John Gotti, and refused his family a Mass of Christian burial), being a pro-choice politician is more of a judgement call, because it is in and of itself a passive sin. This would require either Papal conconsideration or Church General Council in every case. Since the Church has no interest in spending all of its time examining voting records, the Pope took the unusual and intelligent step of saying "this is what is going to happen if you do this." It should be noted that said politicians are no longer able to assume a state of Grace unless they take steps to undo their earlier wrongs. As such, every time they find a nutball priest who is willing to offer them Communion, they are literally desecrating the very flesh of Christ. This is a mortal sin right up there with murder in the eyes of true Catholics. Therefore, if John Kerry or Nancy Pelosi know anything about Catholicism, they know that they are going to Hell, and they just don't care.
Will they be calling it the Church of Satan?
Hold on a second: Officially the Catholic Church is for school vouchers, and private charity as opposed to government wealth redistribution. It is even with us in theory on the death penalty. The Church does not forbid capital punishment, but since it opposed the execution of Saddam Hussein, it might as well have. Sure, your local pastor is a lefty, because he has never worked a day in his life, but the Church's teachings fit nicely into Conservative political philosophy. As a matter of fact, I became a Conservative in college, because I was a Catholic first, and I realized the Conservatism was the best fit (sort of the opposite of what happened with Laura Ingraham and Larry Kudlow, to name a couple).
Well...It does sound very Rick Warren-like, does it not?
Compare what Clinton/Carter want with Warren's global PEACE plan...they are the same thing (a three-legged stool).
Thanks for a decent, respectful and stirring discussion. I have different perspective on this. I admire the Church when it goes political on a geopolitical level and tend to abhor it when it goes political on a national level. I think i has to do with the spirit of faith and its cooption by policymakers.
Curiously while you may find the notion of Buchanan, Buckley, McCarthy, Pelosi, Kennedy and Daniel Ortega in the same pew to be incongruous, I think it says something about the faith being bigger than the politics of its particpants. I like that.
I wholly dislike what Carter and Clinton are doing and it smacks of the same political opportunism that Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed employ. I think it is cheesy and debasing to faith in general.
When faith becomes a political gambit it ceases to be faith and is merely a cynical strategem.
Actually the Catholic Church is all over the ideological map. From Opus Dei ( The Catholic Brownshirts!) to the Liberation Theologists ( Think Che Guevarra in A Cassock!). And everything in between. One of the great frustrations of politicians is Catholics aren't herdable. It's like trying to wrangle cats. By the time you herd up 10% of them the other 90% have wandered off. You don't get to be 1.2 Billion strong by being exclusive.
I hear there's good money in starting your own religion?
I did some volunteer work for Opus Dei a few years ago, but I didn't join. You characterization is incorrect. While there are some wackos in any organization, for the most part Opus Dei is pretty much plain-vanilla Catholic. The mainstream perception of the group is unfortunate and unwarranted.
These Baptist churches are looking to form a new declining mainline protestant grouping.
It is a wonderful passage, AG. We should do a devotional thread on it some day here on FR.
You're a blessing, sister in Christ.
So far as the MSM is concerned this new grouping will be "The Baptists," and conservative Baptists will always be referred to with an adjective to imply that they are a fringe breakaway sect. The term "Evangelical" is treated that way now and this is just a ploy to write the Baptists, just like the Evangelicals, out of the News and public discourse. It is the New Memory Hole. They will be sending us a new set of pages to splice into our Greater Soviet Encyclopedias soon.
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