Hoping to excite liberal Baptists with leftist political activism and resentment over the “strident” i.e. “conservative” Southern Baptist Convention, Jimmy Carter hosted a New Baptist Covenant II (NBCII) jamboree in Atlanta in November, with satellite meetings across the nation.
Only about 250 people showed up on each of several days of NBCII at Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in Atlanta, according to Associated Baptist Press. “We had hoped for a larger attendance,” admitted one organizer.
The first New Baptist Covenant gathering had attracted over 15,000 in 2008. Organizers of NBCII reportedly hoped more than 30,000 would participate nationwide this time.
My colleague Jeff Walton attended a satellite gathering at a large Washington, D.C. Baptist church, where all of 5 or 6 people sat in a cavernous sanctuary watching Jimmy Carter appear on a giant screen. Apparently a 300 seat Philadelphia church was nearly as empty. There were 9 satellite stations for liberal Baptists to gather and watch the former president, along with Welfare State champion Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund and liberal evangelist Tony Campolo, former spiritual counselor to President Bill Clinton.
Famously prominent at his Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia, Carter has for many years condemned the theological and political conservatism of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has even loudly and publicly “resigned” several times from it, even though only congregations and not individuals are members of the Convention.
Although touted as one of America’s first evangelical presidents, Carter’s theology and politics more closely resemble the stances of declining, leftist-dominated Mainline Protestant denominations. Arguing that the relatively robust, 16-million member Southern Baptist Convention should become more like the spiraling Episcopal Church is difficult, of course. But Carter rarely shies from Don Quixote causes.
Speaking at the Atlanta church in an interview format with PBS religion journalist Bob Abernathy, Carter recalled his Carter Center’s admirable work in nearly eradicating the guinea worm parasite in Third World nations. But Carter quickly got political, praising Occupy Wall Street and bemoaning the “division in the country between the rich and powerful” and the less privileged. “The powerful people who control government have to be reminded from the bottom that things need to change,” Carter announced, according to my colleague, whose accounts are here and here. One Carter solution: “I think tax rates ought to be raised for the top 1 percent.”
Pages: 1 2