President Carter Deplores ‘Melding Of Church And State’

Former President Jimmy Carter, a devout Baptist and Sunday School teacher, still retains his lifelong support for separation of church and state.

Carter took reporters’ questions during the Baptist World Centenary Congress in Birmingham, England, July 27-31. He addressed several issues, including terrorism, tension among religions and the war in Iraq.

On church-state relations, Associated Baptist Press reported that Carter said, “We deplore the melding of church and state.”

Carter, 80, attends Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Ga., where he frequently teaches Sunday School classes. He has been active in the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), an umbrella group of more than 211 Baptist organizations from more than 200 countries worldwide.

Last year, the Southern Baptist Convention voted to leave the BWA, accusing the organization of drifting toward liberalism and tolerating gay rights. The pull-out cost the group 20 percent of its budget.

Carter said he “felt excluded” when the SBC pulled out but expressed hope the denomination would return.