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Religion has been part of former President Jimmy Carter’s routine since he was a child. He writes in his new book, “Faith: A Journey For All”:
Sunday mornings were for Sunday School and preaching at Plains Baptist Church, where Daddy was a teacher and a deacon. I remember vividly that after church we always had the best meal of the week, usually fried chicken, mashed potatoes, hot biscuits, and vegetables from our big garden, followed by pies made from sweet potatoes or fruits of the season. Afterward, our activities were severely limited. There were no stores open, movies in the county seat were out of the question, and shooting a gun or playing cards was prohibited. Fishing in the nearby creek or pond was a close call, but eventually it came to be permitted if done discreetly. It would not have been appropriate, however, to walk down a public road with a fishing pole. My mother and father played cards, mostly bridge, but certainly not on Sunday. At the age of twelve, when I was deemed old enough to drive a car by myself, my sisters and I went back to the church on Sunday evenings for meetings of the Baptist Young People’s Union (BYPU). This was very important, because it was the BYPU that sponsored most of the teenage social events. I need not go on, since the picture is fairly clear. It was a simple, family-centered, deeply religious, working existence…
But his faith has been tested, perhaps most recently in 2015, when Carter announced he’d been diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer that spread to his brain. He wasn’t expected to live much longer. But, immunotherapy treatments kept the cancer away and today he’s 93 and on a mission to get people to examine their own relationships with faith.
Carter discusses his own spiritual evolution and how public service deepened his desire for a prayerful life and a peaceful world.
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