Jimmy Carter tries to rally liberal Baptists
Institute on Religion and Democracy
Seeking to provide “an alternative voice to more strident Baptist voices,” a group of liberal Baptists convened by former President Jimmy Carter is meeting this week in Atlanta, Georgia and at remote viewing sites in several cities. The New Baptist Covenant II group aims to unite Baptist groups around social and justice causes. Among the speakers is former spiritual advisor to President Bill Clinton and Evangelical Left figure Tony Campolo and welfare state champion Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund.
Baptists are the largest Protestant group in the United States, with approximately 33 million adherents in about 70 denominations. The New Baptist Covenant comprises 30 Baptist organizations that claim about 20 million members. The largest organization of Baptists in the United States, the Southern Baptist Convention, counts 16 million members and is not connected with the group.
IRD President Mark Tooley responded:
“Usually preoccupied with issuing anti-Israel bromides or apologizing to dictators for America’s sins, Carter is once again rallying liberal Baptists.
“While New Baptist Covenant claims to unite Baptists around shared values, the primary call seems to be animus towards the more conservative Southern Baptist Convention.
“This Carter-led effort seems to want Baptists to become like liberal Episcopalians or the United Church of Christ. But churches that follow that disastrous path of substituting liberal politics for the Gospel always spiral in membership and vitality. Churches are always healthier when they remain faithful to their historic beliefs and an exercise caution in their political pronouncements, not presuming always to know God’s will on specific legislation and policies.
“Hopefully most Baptists will not be seduced into this rehash of the old-time Social Gospel.”
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