Former President Jimmy Carter says its fine for gays to marry in civil ceremonies in an interview focused on his newest book, “NIV Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter.”
The Democrat from Georgia tells the Huffington Post’s senior religion editor, “I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies.”
The editor had asked Carter – Nobel Peace Prize winner, Sunday school teacher and Christian – about homosexuality and the Bible, saying, “A lot of people point to the Bible for reasons why gay people should not be in the church, or accepted in any way.”
Carter replied, “Homosexuality was well known in the ancient world, well before Christ was born and Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things – he never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies.
“I draw the line, maybe arbitrarily, in requiring by law that churches must marry people. I’m a Baptist, and I believe that each congregation is autonomous and can govern its own affairs. So if a local Baptist church wants to accept gay members on an equal basis, which my church does by the way, then that is fine. If a church decides not to, then government laws shouldn’t require them to.”
Last year, Carter helped campaign for marriage equality in New York state.
The former president also tells the Huff Post that he separated from the Southern Baptists “when they adopted the discriminatory attitude towards women.”
Earlier this month, Carter’s vice president, Walter Mondale, co-founded a group of lawyers and others in the legal profession to battle an anti-gay ballot initiative in Minnesota. The measure would amend the state constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
Carter’s newest book contains lessons from his career as a Sunday school teacher at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Ga., and the text of the NIV Bible.
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