Going to Church With Jimmy Carter

One cure for a crisis of faith: a Sunday school lesson taught by the former president.

Comments: 171

  1. Before we married, my ex-wife backpacked around Southeast Asia. This was in 1981 and 1982. She spoke many times of how many people she met who, upon learning she was American, would tell her how they admired President Carter and thought he was a “good man”. Time has proven, again and again the truth of this.

    One of my prized possessions is my Habitat for Humanity T-Shirt, the back of which has a funny admonition to the volunteers that we all aspire to be like Jimmy Carter.

    I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a religious man, but I am inspired by President Carter’s devotion to his faith and what it calls him to do. Faith in Democracy, faith in the goodness of others and faith im our own responsibilities to be a force for kindness, these are all things that make a better world possible.

  2. Sometimes I think non-religious people see true Christianity better than those of us who claim the name.

  3. My father, who not perfect, always lived his faith always told us that your politics should reflect your faith, as opposed to your faith being molded by your politics. I'm sure President Carter would agree.

  4. Thanks for a peek inside. Mr. Carter is a wonderful role model for all. Whether one is a person of faith or not, he models having core values and living them with energy, determination, conviction, and compassion. Right now the world needs that witness more than every.

  5. There is a radiance to this man. To have him as a counterweight to what we are enduring as a country is a comfort.

  6. President Carter lives his faith in his actions. His life has demonstrated personal integrity and service to others, and his post-presidency is inspiring to Americans at a time when we need hope the most.

  7. We got to the church in time to be #28 and Ms. Renki expresses the experience exactly as I remember it. It's a wonderful and hopeful contrast to the current occupant of the White House.

  8. He is a TRUE Christian. Not the made for TV ( and Politics ) version practiced by the majority of the GOP. And I'm an atheist. Ain't nothing like the real thing. My sincere best wishes, Mr. President.

  9. From your part of Kansas to mine, this warmed my heart.

  10. Thank you, David.

  11. I’ve always had President Carter in high esteem, but his star dimmed after he lent credence to the Venezuelan elections he went to watch and which resulted in Hugo Chavez’s continued grip on the country. His conclusion, against all evidence to the contrary on the ground, that said election had been held fairly remains a stain in an otherwise exemplary reputation. I pray he has realized the magnitude of his grievous error.

  12. If Jimmy Carter said that was a fair election, I believe him.

  13. A lovely opinion piece about witnessing a man’s personal faith that is inclusive and accepting, not exclusive and rejecting.

  14. Six or eight years ago my wife and I were vacationing through Georgia and were delighted to learn that the Sunday we passed through was one of Pres. Carter's appointed times to teach his Sunday School class. We were able to get seats 3 or 4 in front of him.
    We were amazed at how relevant his lesson was that morning. His thoughts about the nation and his Christian faith were so seamless.
    When the lesson was over, there were some minutes of transition. President Carter left through a door at the front of the church and moments later reemerged and took a seat in the sanctuary facing forward.
    That simple shift spoke volumes to me. Now he was "with" the people gathering his strength from the same source. What a metaphor that was to me. More than any president I have known, President Carter was one with us.

  15. What a lovely column. I've long admired this man and this column does him justice.

  16. At best, on a good day, I am an agnostic. Still, I find something personally comforting and encouraging in President Carter's faith. And I have always found inspiration in 1 Thessalonians 5:11: "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."

  17. Thank you for this refreshingly positive and inspiring article about a true person of faith. The Times rarely covers people of faith in a positive light. I suspect the so called Christians the Times chooses to profile most often are purposely selected because they don't espouse or live true Christian values, which is why this article on former President Carter is so refreshing. There are many more people living their faith the way Pres Carter has lived and the Times would do us all a favor if they wrote more stories like this - the Country needs more positive examples of people who care for one another the way Pres Carter has cared for all of us

  18. I don't dispute most of what you say, though I doubt the Times purposely selects hypocritical Christians to profile. The problem is that those who most loudly profess their Christianity tend to be influential in political (read Republican) circles – and huge hypocrites. Those who truly practice their faith as Jesus commanded do so quietly, and so are not newsworthy (past Presidents of the USA excepted) – though perhaps in our current environment quiet and honest Christianity IS newsworthy, alas.

  19. Very grateful for this article! My husband and I have attended the annual briefing at the Carter Center twice, an event which includes a trip to Plains and an option to attend the Bible study. The work of the Carter Center in fighting disease, and in promoting peace show the consistency of President Carter’s religious faith. His Bible studies are truly amazing, inspiring and insightful, and to link what he says about the Biblical message of justice and compassion with the wiork he has done through the Center shows what true faith is and what it looks like in practice. I wish there was more press on the positive work of believers that is changing the world, and less focus on those who claim faith but do little to advance it’s central tenant of justice, kindness and humble service.

  20. I skipped voting for Jimmy Carter in 1976 and have regretted it ever since. At 18 years old you make mistakes, amirite?

    By 1980, I was working on his reelection staff in Texas while finishing my degree at UT. I was never more devastated than when Ronald Reagan won over this brave man. Who were the voters who could be taken in by the California con artist, I thought.

    Two years later I filed, ran and won an election to serve in the Texas House of Representatives. Texas was trending Republican then so nobody expected me to last long as a Democrat. So I took the Carter inspiration of doing the right thing to heart and enjoyed a short but sweet one term in office before being swept away by the Reagan political tsunami in 1984. I became the state's youngest elder statesman at age 25.

    As Mr. Carter did, I have found a rewarding life of public service post office-holding. There are many ways to help others. Teaching people bible lessons or bike riding lessons, just do the right thing.

    Thanks for the lessons President Carter.

  21. I was living in Germany in 1980 and hooked a ride to a U.S. military base a dozen kilometers away to find an officer (who was by definition a gentleman) to notarize my absentee ballot for Jimmy Carter. On the fateful Wednesday morning after the election, I woke up to an infuriatingly tantalizing news report caused by German sentence structure. It seemed like it took five minutes, though I’m sure it was only a few seconds. Something like: “Jimmy Carter, in his bid for re-election to a second term as President of the United States in the election held yesterday, has NOT succeeded.”

  22. I am a secular humanist and I don't believe in god. Jimmy Carter is a religious humanist. The difference between us is that I think one can be a moral person without god, and I try to prove it by my actions, whereas Jimmy Carter uses the Bible and god as his moral guides.
    If all people of faith practiced their religion the way Jimmy Carter does, the world would be a fine place, but faith in god has been used to rationalize the worst atrocities.
    I am always troubled when the term "crisis of faith" is used to describe the process of awakening to reality and throwing off one's delusions about the supernatural. That is not a crisis, it's an epiphany.

  23. there are many ways to see the light....

  24. I just finished reading, "Faith a journey for all", and find that I agreed with the former President, for whom I voted twice, in secular content. However, his reliance on faith alone as a world view leaves a blind-side to the realities of human works.
    I think of the faith of George W. Bush versus the reality of what his works have wrought and, so, I think beware faith alone.

  25. Thank you for writing this piece! I did not know President Carter still taught Bible class. He is truly an inspiration. If only the current occupant of the White House would take a page out of the life of this great man.

  26. Thank you for this article. Jimmy Carter is one of my heroes; a man who has truly lived his whole life by his own principles. You heard him discuss those principles during your visit. I am so pleased that it looks like Mr. Carter will live to see the eradication of the Guinea Worm in Africa, one of the things his foundation has been working to achieve. He is a great man.

  27. God bless Jimmy Carter. In addition to his ongoing humanitarian work he achieved peace between Israel. Egypt, and Jordan. He had a commitment for peace between Israel and the Palestinians that was squandered when he lost the election. What a different world it would have been had Mr. Carter been given the time to achieve that goal!

  28. Seeing a US president in person is a rare treat few Americans get a chance to experience in their lifetimes. I was lucky to get a second or two with President Carter at a Barnes & Noble book signing. But imagine wandering into a Sunday school lesson, and experiencing greatness. Surely worth the pilgrimage.

  29. Actually my wife and I on a vacation in the south, swung by and "went to church" with Jimmy Carter in Georgia. That was 15 years ago and we still talk about how moving and inspiring it was. We are considered "extreme liberals" by others...but I must say, this man by his actions have out done many of my liberal friends when it comes to acting on social justice issues. Perhaps talking about those awful "Christians" is only a caricuture and as foolish as talking in generalities as those "other" people of color unlike us?

  30. Regarded by all as a decent human being and a faithful Christian, Mr Carter remains a leader because goodness will always retain the power of influence.

    Ladies and gentlemen, this is how it’s done.

  31. This is a lovely piece; thank you for it. I always find such comfort in reading things from or about Jimmy Carter. He has been so unfairly maligned and mostly by Democrats, so bizarre; I think the Clintons always disliked him. It seemed to me they couldn't stand the obvious contrast between them, pseudo-Democrats, and him, a real Democrat; likewise between them as phony Bible-wavers as they exited churches before returning to the White House where Bill had his sordid liaisons while Hillary was "in the house!" Jimmy Carter was robbed of a second term by a dishonest Reagan and bitter Democrats. We would have a different country in so many ways today if he had had a second term. He would probably scold me for my criticizing others in this Sunday school article reaction when he's been a pretty kind soul in the face of maltreatment by the pols even in his own party, mostly in his own party. At least with Trump, Jimmy Carter will never again have to endure the unfair placement on the "worst President" lists. He never was that, and Trump always will be (surely we will never again make such a mistake as this current one!)

  32. Before Trump, GW Bush earned the designation of "worst president," at least of our era. Not Jimmy Carter. Jimmy Carter was unfairly punished by disappointed dems and an opportunistic GOP-- which lead us to Reagan, which ushered in the time of America's decline as a world leader.

  33. We have real patriots in our midst and we have those who carry cudgels with the wird "Patriot" branded onto its head. The former are calm, quiet, compassionate and strong. The latter blare forth like the "noisy gong or clanging cymbal" cited by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Corinthians.

    Similarly, we have real Christians who respect and earnestly try following the teachings of Christ and to lead others accordingly. Jimmy Carter is such a man. We could use another one right now, but such figures are exceedingly rare.

  34. When I read and think about Jimmy Carter, I think about the Joan Osborne song, "What if God Was One of Us." We are blessed. There is a reason why this 90 year old man is still walking the earth.

  35. Charitable works will not save the United States, much less religious faith.

    What is needed are stronger labor unions to give working people a voice with the power to force change.

    Waste time in prayer all you want, but get out and organize.

  36. Whether or not you think prayer/ meditation have an effect on the outer world, do remember that Jimmy Carter also led by example with the Habitat for Humanity. Unlike other luminaries who limit their good works to fundraising, he helped build homes for the needy with his own hands.

    Carter exemplifies why spiritual seekers of all traditions do inner practice such as prayer or meditation, as well as outward service to others. Without inner practice, which can yield deeper love to give, service to others often falls flat. Without service, others are not helped.

    I take your other point, though. If we set up a country whose rules generally foster inequality or injustice, voluntary charity will never make up for this.

  37. Gee, I think we can do both. Have a deep sense of responsibility for ones self and society as well as VOTE intelligently.

  38. Kind of wish they would record those Bible Studies with Jimmy Carter, and that comes from someone who identifies himself as an atheist. In the trying times ahead it would be good to be able to commune with this good human being, if only digitally.
    A good human being can indeed change the world.
    Hugh Massengill, Eugene Oregon

  39. I have DVD that the church made, sold for modest amount of adult Bible class taught by President Carter 2011. They may still provide this service.

  40. Failing President Carter, Gosford Anglican Church (famous for their myriad billboards) in Australia does a regular recording which is equally humane, and in pursuit of justice and equality. As a devout atheist as well, it's one of very few manifestations of the church that moves me.

  41. Yes, the church records all of President Carter’s classes - I assume for his presidential library. You can order a dvd for $35, specifying the date of the recent class. Any profits from the dvd go to a church fund to help the less fortunate people in Plains with medical, utilities and food.

    I ordered the dvd for the class I attended in March so I don’t have the form with the P.O. Box, but the website for the church is www.mbcplains.org

  42. Great story... perfect way to start a Monday

  43. How different from the experience I had in January 1996! I was spending the month at Koinonia, the nearby cooperative community where Habitat for Humanity originated. One Sunday we were taken to the church and seated in the same row as President and Mrs. Carter. Me, an immigrant, sitting next to a President! Only in America, I thought, and gave thanks for my good fortune. Secret Service men were stationed at each corner and kept an eye on the congregation.
    It seems incredible today how in just over 20 years we have gone from a civilized society to a fractured one.

    Mary Sive

    PS: It may seem that I am making this up, but fact-checking will prove my recollection to be correct.

  44. I don't like religion. It has generally gotten humanity into a world of hurt. Some old stories and parables, thrown in with a bit of history, has been twisted by frauds and hucksters to enrich themselves with money and power since the beginning.

    But there are indeed good people involved in the religious business. Probably Mr. Carter is one of them. Those folks really should try to salvage something from it all and save their "faith" from the stain of the demagogues and thieves that installed the national liar as their current mascot.

  45. President Carter is the anti-KKKhristian. A true disciple of Christ, he lives what Jesus taught with passion and commitment.

  46. Faith and Religion is the acceptance of the wisdom and values of the ages.....
    President Carter is a repository of both, and we are well taught when we hear and heed him.
    .... the other guy, of course, is evidence that the presidency is not such a repository. His lack of wisdom and corrupt values must be rejected. Choose one or the another. 'Both' is not an option....

  47. Margaret Renkl is rapidly becoming my favorite columnist! Such a treat to know there will be a good-news column just past the scandalous and frequently horrifying front page!

  48. Jimmy Carter is a rare person, indeed: an evangelist who lives the Gospel.

  49. It's nice to see a positive article for a change.

  50. It may be true that many white evangelicals voted for Trummp, to say White Christians put him in office is insulting to this white Christian that voted Democratic. You are confusing Christians with political evangelicals.
    You are fueling a falsehood by race baiting. Shame on you!

  51. No. Trump supporters are often devout evangelical Christians and you have no right to question their faith. The fact that they are making an appalling choice is a different issue.

  52. President Carter represents the polar opposite of those evangelicals who claim that God chose Donald Trump to save Christianity at this critical period of its history. Many of them draw a sharp distinction between the welfare of their community of faith and that of the society in which they live.

    For many of these evangelicals, the church's mission begins and ends with its efforts to convert sinners. Mr. Carter, on the other hand, understands that God's love encompasses the well-being of a person's body as well as his soul.

    Trump evangelicals feel deep concern over the fate of an unborn baby but less anxiety over the welfare of the child once it leaves its mother's womb. Their indifference, or even hostility, to a robust social safety net, including universal health care, exposes a curious interpretation of Christ's commission to his followers to care for the sick and the destitute.

    Mr. Carter, by contrast, embraces a seamless commitment to both parts of Christ's admonition to his followers. Tragically, his outlook does not seem to appeal to most evangelicals. They will learn soon enough that the gospel message, devoid of any empathy or compassion for the suffering of the people they seek to reach, will strike their listeners as sound and fury, the threat of a vengeful god who has lost his capacity to evoke fear.

  53. A person with integrity raises the bar for all of us. These days the bar is ever so low. I'm not sure there even is one - at least in the White House. I really enjoyed this piece. So refreshing and inspirational. Thank you.

  54. This man is the epitome of what it means to be human. Presidents since Carter have largely used their status to chase material wealth (not all have done this exclusively, but all have done it). What goes unmentioned in this article is his (and his foundation's) battle against dracunculiasis (guinea worm), a water-borne disease that had upwards of 3.5 million cases in 1986 and now, due largely to the efforts of the Carter Center and those affiliated with it, there are fewer than 30 (yes 30!) cases worldwide and it should shortly become the first parasitic disease to be eradicated from the face of the planet. Take what Ms. Renkl describes and put it together with that -- now THAT is a legacy worthy of our nation's highest office.

  55. The false narrative is that Jimmy Carter was a bad president, but he was the only president in my lifetime that led through common sense and decency. He was also, as the false narrative omits, a strong man who had been picked by Admiral Rickover for both his leadership and intelligence to be part of our first nuclear naval contingent of officers. Carter remains one of the most outstanding Americans of the last 70 years. Of all the recent presidents, Carter was the only real "outsider" and man of the people. His humility is a lesson in where we have gone so wrong in our culture, our consumerism, and our voting.

  56. Your points are all well taken with the exception of "only." Carter as an outsider had many challenges to deal with, but Presidenting while Black was not one of them.

  57. It is often forgotten that Carter was a warrior. He commanded nuclear submarines and in that role he understood the true nature of war and conflict. He was not a failed president; he was just too good to be fully understood by his nation.

  58. Sadly most remember only his last year in office, his economic record in those first three years was one of the strongest peacetime private sector GDP and jobs growth.

  59. I admire former President Carter's commitment to human rights. I just wish he'd be called a humanitarian rather than wearing that religious label. Religion has been used to commit humanity's most heinous acts and it is the root of most of the world's evil. His work for humanity is indeed admirable and we should leave it at that.

  60. Perhaps President Carter, rather than you, should decide how he is described. The "religious label" that you find so objectionable is at the very heart of who he is and how he defines himself. Moreover, while no one could argue with your proposition that much evil has been done in the name of religion, President Carter's life shows that it can also be a powerful force for good.

  61. "Religion has been used to commit humanity's most heinous acts"

    I think it is not difficult to quantify that the opposite of what you state is true: think Mao, Stalin, etc.. Evil can be perpetrated by people of any ideology.

  62. President Carter once said he hoped to live long enough to see the Guinea worm eradicated. I hope so too. This was one example of the Nobel committee getting it right. I hope President Obama will follow his example. Good people can make a difference.

  63. At 93 president Carter has made it crystal clear that he is still orders of magnitude more qualified to sit in the Oval office than is our current president.

  64. In my opinion secular humanists are good people, but they throw out the baby with the bathwater. The very thing that keeps much of humanity adhering to a moral creed is denigrated by so-called rational science.

    Do the scientists understand the universe and the human mind? Do they even understand photons and black holes? Yet they proseletize against religion.

    Science has come a long way since the dark ages. Recently they have done amazing things in internet technology, biology, nanotechnology--truly amazing. But quantum physics is still a mystery to them. It lies beyond in a metaphysical realm which also includes religion.

    And the fact that science is pursued by some with a profit motive is a danger to us all--it's a Pandora's box.

    Jimmy Carter is one of my heroes. He clings to morality and religion, a necessary balance to present day science. And all the religions caution against greed, which often leads to warfare among themselves.

  65. I am an atheist and always have been. But Jimmy Carter is the best human being that I have knowledge of.

  66. This secular humanist honors Jimmy Carter, respects his work and admires him as a human being and Christian. One need not personally subscribe to religious beliefs in order to see that this is a good human being who has done much for the world and lived a life of integrity and love for others.

  67. When I worked for attorney Peyton Hawes in Atlanta in 1971, he said in confidence, "I have a good friend named Jimmy Carter who told me he plans to run for President. Do you think he's lost his mind?" No, Peyton, he didn't lose his mind, and his mind is still operating at full power. Wish he were still our President.

  68. That's the portrait of a true Christian, not the angry and hate-filled ones we frequently see on TV.

  69. A number of years ago after a long week of work, I was in the very last row of a full plane flying home. A half hour into the flight I looked up from my papers and to my great surprise saw Jimmy Carter walking down the aisle of the plane shaking hands with all who wished to connect with him (and everyone did btw). He came all the way to the last row and I shook his hand and thanked him for his service.

    He returned to his seat at the front of the plane and I had the idea of asking him to pen a note of encouragement to my dad, a big admirer of President Carter, who was at that time battling a serious cancer. Reluctantly a flight attendant took my note of request to the President ("they never respond to such things" she warned me). And lo we landed, the President was whisked off the plane, and no note had come back to me. Oh well I thought, he's a busy man, at least I got to shake his hand.

    I was the last person off the plane and as I approach the exit the pilot standing at the cockpit door handed me a folded piece of paper saying the President had asked that he deliver it to me. It was a short note of encouragement to my dad, and it brought a big smile to his face when I in turn delivered it to him just a couple of months before his death.

    It a small act of generosity and I wonder how many times President Carter has touched a life with such thoughtfulness. It brings tears to my eyes to this day. A good man he is.

  70. A fantastic story, QuakerJohn.

    It brought tears to my eyes as well.

  71. For self realized people like Jimmy Carter, every human being is important. Caring and compassion comes naturally to Jimmy Carter.

  72. People should keep in mind when they listen to Jimmy Carter that when the blind follow the blind, both will fall into a pit.

  73. Most politicians who claim to be Christians are politicians first and Christians second. With Carter it's always been the other way around. And his Christianity is the kind that people like me, who were not raised in the church, can still aspire to. The most important commandment is the one that didn't make it onto a stone tablet--Love one another.

  74. I visited Carter’s church the year after he lost re-election. We were the only visitors and the congregation was no more than a dozen. After the service he greeted us warmly insisted on having us take a photo with him. A truly magnanimous and gracious person.

  75. Thank you for a wonderful article on President Carter. I have always admired him. He is an amazing example of how we should go through this life respecting all. In these time, it is comforting and encouraging to hear his wisdom.

  76. Thirteen years ago on my 60th birthday, I celebrated by attending Maranatha Baptist Church. It was a wonderful, joyful experience the memory of which still fills my heart. The entire well organized day was supported with love by the church congregation. After the service, President and Mrs Carter graciously allowed participants to have photos made with them by Secret Service with participant's camera. I still treasure that photo and the spirit of love of that day. I became a modest supporter of The Carter Center because of that day. Wonderful article and wonderful man!

  77. A breath of fresh air.

    A beacon on a dark night.

    The lesson in life.

  78. After reading President Carter's book, Faith, I wanted to hop in my car and visit him in Georgia. This is truly a wonderful and inspirational book. I am not of the Baptist faith but I do believe in a supreme being.

    President Carter represents what is good and honest in the country. The person residing in the White House right now represents everything that is wrong with our country.

    I was so moved by Mr. Carter's devotion to God, his country, his wife and his family. It makes you want to say with sincerity, God Bless the United States and God bless President Carter. There are still some good politicians with integrity in the country.

  79. I often hear right-wing Republican types say that it's the job of the church and the community, not the government, to take care of the sick and needy. And there may have been a time, and there may still be some places, where that is possible. But as charitable and Christian as Jimmy Carter is, he knows that the government must play a role in this mission, as well. With the size, complexity, instability, and mobility of our population, only government has the infrastructure, scale, reach and accountability to help those who need it, when they need it, where they need it, in the way that they need it. While the Republicans, who profess Christian values, are doing everything they can to destroy this safety net, the Democrats are working to preserve it. Some distrust Carter's Christianity because he's a Democrat — but I don't see how ones Christian faith could lead you to vote otherwise.

  80. It is indeed encouraging - one could even say "inspiring" - to read this account of encounters with Jimmy Carter.

    In my ordinary life I also encounter kind and generous people, and this experience helps me avoid yielding to the despair that could be triggered by paying too much attention to the news.

  81. Over the years I have wondered if Jimmy Carter wasn't too good, honest and honorable a man to have been president. If the current occupant of the White House is any indication, that most certainly is true.

    I don't agree with President Carter on everything, but how I wish our nation had a man of his morality, ethics and commitment to justice leading us right now.

  82. I’ve met Jimmy Carter twice and found him to be a lovely, thoughtful man with a memory like a steel trap (he remembered my name the second time we met, and what we had briefly discussed the first time, years earlier.) But like all Georgians of a certain age, I remember his earlier days, when he used unmistakable, inexcusable racism to win the governor’s race in 1970. If he ever apologized, I’m not aware. I choose to use that memory as a reminder that each of us has a better devil as well as a better angel whispering in our ears, and we need to check ourselves all the time. I also use it to remind myself that improvement is possible, and he seems to be a good model for that, too.

  83. Thanks for a great article. President Carter is many wonderful and admirable attributes. Many persons call themselves "Christian" but do not practice the main messages preached by Christ. None of us can be perfect, I certainly am not, but we can try. President Carter is a brilliant teacher. I have only met him once as I sat in the front row at a speech he was given to give on his book "Apartheid". Thanks for giving me the link to his interview with Colbert. The only advice I have :) for President Carter is, there is a difference between honesty and full disclosure, as my attorney daughter in law explained to me. I think both God and Ms. Lillian have forgiven him his "white lies".

    I truly honor his work, his intellect, and his integrity. We had a great in Office, and now we have stooped to the lowest denominator. It was good to reminded. It might happen again. (Although President Carter said he does not plan to run in 2020).

  84. President Carter epitomizes what you can do and accomplish after you leave public office. While some may set up a family foundation Carter truly is a man of faith and humility. All public officials should take heed and live by this man's example.

  85. President Carter was an outsider and that hampered him in Washington DC where connections decide if you're going to have success with your agenda. Democrats still keep their distance from him because his defeat led to the GOP being in power for the last 30 years which is a shame because he has much to teach. He's done more for our country and for everyday Americans post presidency than any other president and has set the standard for what we expect of our former presidents. The world will lose a wise treasure when he dies. Thanks for giving us a glimpse of why his voice still matters.

  86. I have so much respect for this man. I wish they would live stream his teaching! I so enjoy listening to him speak. Thank you for being there.

  87. I know many folks choose not to go to church, temple, synagogue, mosque, or other places of worship. That is one's right that I would fight to protect, but I go almost every Sunday to church and feel richer for it.
    Yesterday, our pastor, who has Parkinson's and is undergoing brain stimulation surgery later this week was having difficulty with controlling the tremors in his right hand during children's time.
    He changed his remarks to explain to the children, ranging in age from 4 to 14, about his disease, how it has impacted his life, his impending surgery, and how it frightened him.
    He then spontaneously asked them to stand up while he sat down, to place their hands on him, and to pray for his successful surgery later this week.
    He took his vulnerability and made it into a lesson for our children.
    I looked around my church, seeing everyone from infants to the very elderly, and thought "Where else in the world do we regularly join within one another in this beautiful and sometimes frightening arc from infancy to death?"
    Now, there are those who call us silly, superstitious, delusional, or worse and there's nothing I can say to dispute those labels except that I felt deeply moved yesterday and am comforted like President Carter is comforted by my faith in something higher than myself.

  88. Your post is beautiful and heartfelt. Please continue going to church! Worshiping the Lord with your fellow Christians is a very good thing.

  89. A fine article that puts a crucial hypothetical question into sharp relief. Is it better to have a highly moral person in the White House whose policies are a disaster for the nation, or a person of low morality whose policies are excellent? I'm not talking about the current occupant of the Oval Office, either. I'm asking hypothetically. (And no, it's not helpful to answer me, "Both.")

  90. Carter's policies were not a disaster. Instead, like Obama, he figured it was his job to do the work and other's jobs to point out the successes.
    The debacle that was/is Iran was due, in part, because he wanted to do the charitable thing towards the Shah, which turned out to be the wrong thing according to the Ayatollah.

  91. I would take Carter over Trump any day. If you analyze Carter’s presidency yourself, rather than take in the Republican narrative of his success, you may be surprised.

  92. In the spirit of your hypothetical question, I would go with the immoral president with excellent policies. Of course it does depend somewhat on how "low" the morality goes! But as a European, I would have no real problem learning that a president had a mistress, for example, or that he did some drugs in college. I don't expect a president to be a perfect human being, just a good president, doing what's best not only for this country but for the rest of the planet as well.

  93. Wonderful article. It never occurred to me to go hear him preach. Obviously I have missed the boat.

  94. It's amazing. If you can make the time, it's worth the effort. I made it once, and would sincerely like to do so again.

  95. I attended his Sunday School service about a year and a half ago. Rosalyn could not attend because their grandson had died a few hours earlier and she was still up in Atlanta. But President Carter showed up, about 20 minutes late, apologized for being late before telling the congregation about his grandson’s death up in Atlanta and how it inspired him to teach about gratefulness. GRATEFULNESS only hours after his personal tragedy. Truly an amazing man and I treasure the photograph I have with him in his church. The country needs his morals more now than ever.

  96. Terrific article. I love President Carter. Such a sweet, compassionate man. This man is a true Christian. He knows the Bible and he walks the walk. There are people who call themselves Christians but behave badly and treat their fellow man terribly, not at all the way Jesus taught his disciples. Can anyone picture President Carter washing another person's feet? I certainly can. Now can anyone picture President Trump washing someone else's feet? I certainly cannot.
    I, too, would love to see his services streamed live. This man is the real deal, and it would be a good thing for others to try and emulate him. Just the effort would do everyone a world of good.
    May God bless President Jimmy Carter.

  97. I finished this article through tear-stained eyes. That we once had such a fine and decent, though politically flawed man once as our President, and today . . . Thank you Margaret Renkl for your pilgrimage to Plains and for writing such a profound and moving piece. Thank you NYT for publishing it. And thank you, President Carter, for your lifetime of faith and witness to what it truly means to live your life in humble service to Jesus Christ and your fellow men and women.

  98. I have attended church in Plains to hear President Carter 3 time. Each time I was seated in the sanctuary and one time in the same row as the President and Mrs Carter. As a Catholic I was impressed with his knowledge of the Bible, both old and new testament, but how he discussed both in the context of the history of the times. Pure brilliance. Please go, don't be deterred by the crowds, and be sure to get your picture made with him at the end. I have 3 pictures that I treasure.

  99. Mr. Carter is one of the foremost examples of what it means to act faithfully. He reminds us that we cannot control the actions of others, and that we are each called to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly.” To me, these are the actions that define a life well-lived, regardless of one’s particular religious tradition. I am grateful for Mr. Carter’s lesson and his example.

  100. President Carter is a remarkable man. I have enormous respect for him. Many blessings upon him.

  101. I am an agnostic secular Jew, and I would go to hear Jimmy Carter's Sunday school lesson any day of the week.
    He is the antithesis of what we have in the Oval Office right now. And I don't feel weird saying, "God bless him."

  102. And, as a pretty poor Christian myself, I say, "God Bless You." I have no doubt whatever that that is exactly what President and Mrs. Carter would say to you.

  103. I'm a not a secular Jew and he is not a friend to Jews or to Israel. Do some reading, see what he has said and done.

  104. Friedrich Nietzsche said “in truth, there was only one Christian and he died on the cross.”

    But Jimmy Carter comes in a very close second.

    I had the pleasure of meeting Jimmy Carter as a student in Emory University in the early 1980's where he taught.

    Jimmy Carter is the finest Georgia peach of a man as there ever was.

  105. All of the Bible is equally important—if not equally consequential, but on a personal level, the Gospels are what it’s all about.

  106. I have immense respect for the contributions to America, indeed the world, made by Jimmy Carter in his post-presidency. But the most influential in our history? More like the most influential in modern times.

    John Quincy Adams served as our sixth president, and was the son of John Adams, our second president. The son, after serving his four years as president, was elected as U.S. Representative from Massachusetts in 1830, a seat he held until 1848 – and enjoyed greater acclaim for his contributions in the House than he had as president. He was a leading early opponent to slavery. This was all AFTER a long life of contribution in office as First Minister to Russia, Ambassador to Great Britain and U.S. Secretary of State.

    With all respect to President Carter, I’d suggest that John Quincy Adams holds the all-time record.

    But Adams never had the gentle sense of humor Carter developed after leaving the White House. On the other hand, Adams probably chewed with his mouth closed.

  107. Personally I do not care what label we might put on President Carter's beliefs. He is a great humanitarian, a person if honesty and integrity. It is such a rare thing that we should treasure who ever bares these qualities of character. President Carter is up there with such men as Ghand or Nelson Mandela.

  108. I have always been very proud that the 1st vote I cast in a presidential election was for this gentle man of grace and faith, a true disciple of Christ. I fear we won't see his sort again anytime soon.

  109. Thank you Jimmy Carter for your kind heart and soft smile. Thank you for your great works that shine within your faith in humanity and a kind spirit. What a counter point to the angry snarls and hypocrisy which flows out of our White House. that Jimmy Carter defies even death itself to continue participating with us in this world is a miracle in itself.

  110. There's no question that Carter was one of the most altruistic men to hold the office of US President, at least since 1900. He sold himself as a Christian, an engineer and a peanut farmer and you just knew that with that kind of introduction, his tenure was going to end badly. And the only other self-professed engineer to hold the office was Herbert Hoover, so maybe there is a lesson to be learned there. Carter is considered by most historians to be one of the worst Presidents of recent vintage. But how much of that was due to his outsider status and the fact that the beltway parasites ate him for dinner on a routine basis? And some of Carter's poor reputation can be attributed to the events of the day, including the Iranian crisis and the global energy mess. But in the end, his naivete was his undoing. He is at the other end of the moral spectrum from our present POTUS and even though Trump can handle the vicious political nature of Washington, Trump's moral extreme is far worse for the country.

  111. Jimmy Carter is as close to a saintly person as any one could be, I think. He is such a force for good in the world and never stops working to demonstrate Christian values, something I think Evangelical Christians, and everyone else, need to ponder.

  112. I have always said that if the Southern Baptists bestowed sainthood on anyone, it should surely be President Carter.

  113. I used to admire Carter but when he criticizes Obama and cannot bring himself to do the same to Trump I have lost faith in his judgement, he has become one of the Evangelicals following Christian faith blindly.

  114. What's the point of criticizing Trump? All he'd do is make up some juvenile nickname for Mr. Carter and make up lies about him. Mr. Carter has better things to do than engage with a spoiled, petulant man-child.

  115. As an irreligious man, I always admired President Carter's devotion to his brand of Christianity. I also believe that he, a deeply thinking man, should have given a thought to the discrimination of women in practically all the churches. A step to rectify this is to expand the Trinity to Quadrinity, by inclusion of Mary in divine hierarchy.

  116. President Carter's message is wonderful. I would point out though that his history lesson seems a bit off. It is not just white women who gained the right to vote in 1920 (via the 19th Amendment) because the 15th Amendment, ratified 1870, outlawed denying the right to vote due to race, color, or previous condition of servitude. So, in fact, all citizen women gained the right to vote in 1920. Of course, the right to vote is one thing and the actual ability to vote due to disenfranchisement, intimidation, Jim Crow etc is another.

  117. No former president has worked more tirelessly for world peace & domestic tranquility than Jimmy Carter. There should be a special place in the heart of every American for this wonderful man.

  118. President Carter should live to be forever here.
    Beautiful ,righteous is our Lord and His disciples, of whom Jimmy Carter is listed. Love is the commandment and of course honesty. Jesus is the Light and he shines obliterating the dark.

  119. President Carter has his flaws, but he has a deep Christian heart and his judgment is precise and accurate on many issues of living concern to the American people today, especially in his very sane views of our policies in the Middle East. He speaks the truth to Zionist Christian fanatics about the cruel, dishonorable way America and Israel together--yes, together--treat the Palestinian people. I've never been sorry I was his Kansas Press Secretary

  120. Jimmy Carter, before running for president, had an abysmal record on civil rights and defended Lt. Calley after his conviction for the My Lai massacre. After his presidency, he accepted millions from repressive Arab nations for his foundation and exempted them from the sort of harsh criticism he often directed at Israel.

    He ought to pray for forgiveness.

  121. @DSM: "He ought to pray for forgiveness."

    As should we all! Unless a person is perfect (you know, like the current prez imagines himself to be), we've all done things we would not want plastered on the front page of the newspaper.

  122. It's true he supported the Vietnam war and defended Calley, which I won't defend, but it was a different time, and he was hardly an outlier on that.

    But Carter had a pretty good record on civil rights pre-presidency:


    As for taking money from Arab nations, well, he wasn't alone there, either.

    He wasn't and isn't perfect, and I'm sure he prays for forgiveness every day.

  123. I agree totally. He is really just a run-of-the-mill anti-semite. His awful rhetoric towards Israel and Jews in general is horrible to hear. Almost as bad as people praising him as some kind of God fearing man who just does good works. Awful!

  124. Q: What's the difference between Jimmy Carter and Donald Trump?
    A: One builds houses for poor people, teaches Sunday school, and writes books about the Bible. The other is loved by Evangelicals.

  125. This isn't one of those "funny" jokes, is it? Carter is the real deal. Habitat for Humanity alone should guarantee him a good place in heaven.

  126. What a respite from the slime oozing out of Washington. "An Hour Before Daylight" is one of the finest books I have ever read. When heaven calls for President Carter, he will be carried to the front of the line on the wings of angels.

  127. A remarkable man, and a true Christian. Probably the greatest exPresident since John Quincy Adams.

  128. What would Jesus do?
    Well, according to the book that right wing so called Christians quote like it was Scripture, we know what Jesus did:
    He healed the sick.
    He fed the hungry.
    He visited the prisoner.
    He clothed the naked.
    He tended the poor.
    He threw the bankers and merchants out of the temple.
    He forgave those who tortured and murdered him.
    He did all that with love and compassion, not with self-righteous judgement.
    David Leonhardt has a column today regarding the misconception of republicans as stewards of fiscal responsibility, which they are not.
    republicans also like to pretend that they are "Party of God".... good Christians all. Hogwash....
    W. confided that he was a born again Christian and I imagine he is anxious to meet Jesus on the other side. I would like to be a bug on the wall during that encounter. I imagine Jesus saying something like: "You bombed and killed how many people in my name?"
    James Carter is the epitome of how a person should lead a life based on the teachings of Jesus.
    I am no longer a Christian but I appreciate folks like the Carters, and the Obamas, who take the Word seriously and try to live by it; not just to score points with phonies like Tony Perkins and Franklin Graham.
    Blessings and Love, President Carter

  129. @ Bob Laughlin Denver
    Allow me to make two comments:
    1. Jesus Christ could do many things because he was half-divine, half-human.
    2. David Leonhardt's column that you mention is, in my opinion, written by a card-holding leftist Democrat.

  130. Sadly the Evangelicals who put Trump in the White House consider that dissolute man a better Christian than Jimmy Carter.

  131. President Carter is my personal hero.

  132. Your post reminds me of the old TV Ad in the 70s ie you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy Levy's bread.

    You don't have to be religious to be a good person.

    There are good religious people and good non believers.

    During the Civil War half of religious people were for slavery and the other half opposed.

    Learn from Lincoln ie and I am paraphrasing him, don't do as God wants you to do, do as he has given you the ability to see what is right and wrong.

    In one of his last letters he lambasted two southern women who asked him to visit their sons in union prison. He let them visit but after seeing their letter than they were women of God, he said he would not want to join any religion that enslaves people.

  133. I was at the service yesterday, as part of a donor group attending a Carter Center weekend briefing. All 200 of us got in - though some of us sat in the overflow room - we also arrived at 6AM - no favoritism. If you don't know much about the Carter Center, take a moment to look at the website. They do amazing work in health and democracy (were recently instrumental in eradication of guinea worm in Africa). And they run a tight ship as a charity - the overhead is less than 3% spent on administration; 94% goes to programs. Truly the legacy of a great couple.

  134. I also stayed at the Quality Inn in Americus, same mass as you, Sunday 4/9. I brought my children from jersey city NJ and was one of the most amazing experiences of my life!!! We were #33 in the parking lot! :)

  135. My mother, a Northerner transplanted late in life to Auburn Al., died at age 93 in 2016. When I would visit from NYC, we did little jaunts and trips, e.g. Andersonville Prison, FDR's Ga. residence, Selma. One of few regrets in my life is not taking her to hear Jimmy preach. I would have enjoyed it myself but for her, it would have been a special treat. Anyone who can, do it while you can.

  136. Several years ago I was on an airplane with President Carter. He shook every hand on that plane. Inspired by this my husband and I began contributing to the Carter Center. And this weekend we were among those lucky people on a Carter Center trip to Plains, GA that culminated with his Sunday school class yesterday. President Carter is a true blue, down to earth, lovely individual with excellent values and incredible energy and drive. He and his wife work endlessly, day in and day out to make improvements in this world and to get out their simple message: love your neighbor - your friends and your foes. Learn to live together and help each other every day. He is passionate about equality - between blacks and whites, men and women and all people. He leads by example. From the modest house in which they live where they let locals come and fish, to the schedule they maintain (this past week he gave several talks in England, more back in Atlanta and wrapped up the week by hosting an entire weekend event in Plains – it is hard to remember that he is 93).
    During the church service yesterday President Carter asked if there were any clergy or missionaries present. Three men stood and told him for which churches they preached. The third man said that he and his wife were missionaries in Costa Rica. Carter asked, “Why didn’t your wife stand with you?” At that the shy woman stood as well. Carter asked if she would lead the Morning Prayer. And she did.

  137. I wonder if that flight was the same as the one I was on, when Carter shook everybody's hand then, too. It took off in a horrendous thunder, lightning and rain storm--another reason why I'll never forget it. I thought somebody must have believed it would get through because Carter was on board. We made it.

  138. That was wonderful. Thank you Ms Renkl!

  139. Am reminded of my attendance at Maranatha church just prior to Jimmy's group observation of the election in Sudan in 2010. I was also impressed by Carter's strong faith, but sad about the negative reaction by a fundamentalist in my home town.
    Many evangelicals have given up their faith for the pottage of political power. It will come back to haunt them among the younger voters.

  140. What lovely read at the start of the day. It begs to be shared today. As we are all being so ground down by the torture of the daily news, this brought sunlight and a brighter day. President Carter certainly walks the talk. God bless him.

  141. Amen!

  142. The outpouring of love and respect for President Carter shown in most of these comments has done as much good for me as Ms. Renkl's statement, without which of course we could not have seen this feast of the heart. In these days of darkness it is easy to forget that apostles of truth and light--of all and no religions--still exist in this country. Thanks to all of you.

  143. In a time when Trumpster evangelicals have cast their ugly shadow on all Christians, revealing their drive for theocracy and power, Jimmy Carter remains a welcome example of genuine Christianity.

    It's important to note Carter cut ties long ago with the ultra-right-wing Southern Baptists, for prohibiting women ministers. This gentle man of faith is most likely still a heretic in their eyes, even though he is still teaching Sunday School at 90-plus and has led moderates like him in faith alliances to bridge differences and unify to do good.

    I appreciate the congregation for welcoming the crowds every Sunday, year after year. It must be overwhelming for a small rural church.


  144. Thank you for reminding people that there are millions of Christians who did not vote for Trump, including me and many of my friends. I am so tired of hearing "Christians" all being lumped together - would you lump all Muslims together and accuse them of being terrorists?

  145. I was lucky enough to attend President Carter’s Sunday School Class last month, March 18. I also stayed at the Quality Inn but got up even earlier than Ms. Renkl and was number 4 in the parking lot putting me in the second row of the sanctuary.

    What a humble, down-to-earth, inspirational man. President Carter made me want to be a better person. What I also loved was that President Carter stayed for the church service (of course) and paid as much attention to the church’s 23-year-old preacher as he might to a distinguished theologian.

  146. My first chance to vote was in 1976 and I did not cast it for Jimmy Carter but rather the loser Gerald Ford. 4 years later in 1980 I compounded my earlier mistake and again did not vote for Carter, I have come to regret those votes and admire a truly great American and human.

    To think in my voting lifetime we as a nation have gone from Jimmy Carter to Donald Trump shows that progress is not always in a straight line!

  147. Don't fret! Gerald Ford was also a very decent man of integrity.

  148. My daughter's middle name is Carter in his honor. He has his flaws regarding both policy and leadership but he far outshines most of our contemporary leaders in seeking dignity for his fellow man.

  149. A good man, but not a good President. A reminder that the government of the United States is not a proper arm to carry out one's religous convictions. Also always interesting that all the examples of people who don't get along are Americans and somebody else. Carter never realized, and apparently still doesn't, that there are plenty of disagreements among the peoples of this world that don't include Americans at all. Saudis and Iranians, say. Pakistanis and Indians, say. Japanese and Chinese, say.

  150. Jimmy Carter wasn't the best president, but I don't think that was because of his religious convictions, but from a lack of experience and scope. But I don't think you can accuse him of not being knowledgeable about the terrible disputes in this world that don't include the U.S. His travels and foreign policy experience, especially since he left office, are immense.

  151. The longer Trump stays, the better all the rest of the presidents look.

  152. I'll share again that I was on a plane with Mr. Carter, knowing it from having seen him board. Also, I saw him come back to us on board; going down and back up the two aisles, he shook everybody's hand, including mine. When the plane took off in a horrendous thunder, lightning and rain storm, I thought, well somebody must have thought it was going to make it through because Carter was on board. Yes, we made it. Carter's intervention in the Middle East shines primarily through mediating that peaceful agreement between Egypt and Israel. It is a mode of how to intervene when all parties profess a good faith effort. Since then, as now, we send in troops and drop our bombs, perpetuating war. It's difficult to keep the hope that Carter holds out.

  153. Wonderful. But like the terrific piece on Robert Kennedy visiting the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota back in 1968, there's really not much opinion here. It's almost like straight up reporting.
    "Went to church in Georgia, where Jimmy Carter teaches from the Bible. This is what he said, this is what he told Stephen Colbert, this was the process to get a seat."
    Maybe the NYT needs another category for these columns.

  154. Try a Science book. Don't be afraid.

  155. Jimmy Carter was a nuclear engineer.

  156. I’d argue (not as a theist, BTW) that science and religion are not incompatible. They deal with different realms if human experience. There is no need for one to be the sole truth or for one to explain or support the other. They are different things.

  157. I campaigned for Jimmy Carter in 1976, while a senior in college. I still have an invitation to a far-flung inaugural ball (somewhere). One of my bucket-list items was to attend his Sunday School class, so, in the Fall of 2017, I made the trek to Plains, staying in Americus with the alarm set for a time I rarely see. What a humbling, yet uplifting, experience. When asked who my most admired person was during job interviews many years ago, I always replied Jimmy Carter and got ready for the inevitable “look.” Absolutely no regrets for my support for this inspirational man....then or now.

  158. As others have noted, he’s definitely in the company of Ghandi and Mandela. I don’t think that I described the experience of meeting this humble, gracious, brilliant man clear enough in my initial post!

  159. Oh, this piece brings back great memories of a warm April Sunday about 10 years ago when my husband and I had the privilege of hearing President Carter preach. I was amazed at how humble and gracious he was. One of the most meaningful church experiences I've ever had. After the service he and Rosalynn stood outside on the church lawn and posed for a photograph with every visitor who wanted one. I wonder whether they still do that. That photo of us with Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter is a treasured keepsake from our trip to Plains.

  160. I don't understand how people who believe fervently in Christ and that God has a plan can be worried about the future. Either you have faith or you don't. Either God has a plan or God doesn't. And it's a cop-out to say that God requires people to do God's will. It's God's plan. If God can execute on his own, he's not much of a God.

  161. I am afraid our country does not deserve a man as great as Jimmy Carter.

  162. When considering Mr. Carter, one thought looms in the forefront: America now has the polar opposite in the Oval Office in terms of intelligence and integrity.

    God help the U.S. and the planet.

  163. God or Gods or all the iterations thereof are or have been obviously created by human beings over the centuries. Humans want "good" to rule and an afterlife. Good luck with that. Serve humanity and the planet and forget the magic stuff.

  164. It's the good work of people like Jimmy Carter on which the balance of the human situation depends.

  165. I'm a classmate of Jimmy Carter, Class of '47 at the Naval Academy and I did not know him there -- and only met him once at our 50th reunion. But, I voted for him twice and believe in his honest approach to honesty, fairness, and equality -- keep it up, Jimmy!!

  166. "Take care of one another....." What a concept, and what an honorable and appropriate basis for government. We can only wish that our elected officials could remember such a simple, profound notion.

  167. Jimmy Carter is a good man and a great hero.
    He represents the humble commitment to the truth, to public service and to unreachable American ideals of equality which we must always aspire to.
    At 93 he is extraordinary. Hopefully he will continue to inspire all Americans to work together for a better and more just world.

  168. I love Jimmy Carter. He is an outstanding man and the polar opposite of our current President. And I believe he was an outstanding President who should have been reelected. The first elected President after Watergate, with a traumatized nation, an oil embargo and the Iranians taking our hostages was no easy lifting. But Carter immediately rallied the nation to conservation, reducing the speed limit on all freeways to 55 m.p.h., he started a government project in Colorado in the 1970's to extract oil from shale and he valued each and every human life amongst the American hostages in Iran, resulting in not a single death. And recall the well sourced reports that George H.W. Bush, Reagan's vice presidential candidate, traveled to Paris secretly prior to the election and cut an arms for hostages deal with Iran, getting a promise that no hostages would be released before the election, dooming Carter to defeat and installing Reagan in the White House. Scandalous, immoral Republican behavior dates back decades.

    And Carter gives Christianity a good name and practices closely what he preaches. He is humble, charitable, kind, is a deep and abiding environmentalist and has continuously done amazingly good things since his exit from the Presidency.

    We so desperately need someone of Jimmy Carter's character, intelligence and decency to lead this country out of the literal hell that is America today.

  169. I have always thought Jimmy Carter was an American Saint.

  170. Jimmy Carter's road to the White House started with Watergate. America was in a post-Watergate stupor after witnessing a president resign in disgrace. Enter Jimmy Carter, a relatively unknown Southern governor, who declared his candidacy for the presidency by promising he would never lie to the American people in 1976.

    I know hindsight is 20/20 but in retrospect Jimmy Carter was in way over his head as president. Carter would have made a half way decent Congressman or Senator but the presidency proved way too difficult for him to handle. Carter's presidency began to end when Iranian militants seized the American embassy held the staff hostage. The situation steadily worsened with no end in sight. Carter had no idea what to do. His Christian faith worked against him--Carter couldn't bear the thought of bombing innocent Iranians even while they were screaming Death to America. Carter should have also learned a lesson from Lyndon Johnson and not have run for a second term in 1980. Instead Carter adopted something called the Rose Garden strategy where he barricaded himself in the White House rather than openly campaign to keep his job. Big mistake. It's imperative that presidents openly get out on the campaign trail no matter what crises he has to face. If Carter had withdrawn from the presidential race in 1980 he could have saved himself and America a lot of grief.

  171. Despite their flaws and mistakes, one of the good thing which happen in the history of the USA, was to have two very decent presidents, Ford and Carter, after Nixon. As Carter said so well at his inauguration in 1977, "For myself and for our nation I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land." And himself since his defeat in 1980 has done a lot to eradicate poverty, disease and promote democracy.