Former president Jimmy Carter gave a lecture to journalists about racist Republicans and Trump supporters, and New York Times religion reporter Laurie Goodstein lapped it up religiously: “Seeing Resurgence of Racism, Carter Plans Conference to Promote Unity.” The text box to Tuesday’s story paraphrased Carter’s words of wisdom: “Saying the country has ‘reawakened’ in a bitter political climate.” Goodstein also pondered whether Ken Starr was repenting for his sin against impeached president Bill Clinton: “Is Baylor Univ president Kenneth Starr repenting for his relentless prosecution of Bill Clinton?"
Carter is promoting the New Baptist Covenant, a left-wing Baptist group that holds itself apart from the more traditional Southern Baptist Convention.
In an interview on Monday, Mr. Carter spoke of a resurgence of open racism, saying, “I don’t feel good, except for one thing: I think the country has been reawakened the last two or three years to the fact that we haven’t resolved the race issue adequately.”
He said that Republican animosity toward President Obama had “a heavy racial overtone” and that Donald J. Trump’s surprisingly successful campaign for president had “tapped a waiting reservoir there of inherent racism.”
Mr. Carter conducted telephone interviews to call attention to a summit meeting he plans to hold in Atlanta this fall to bring together white, black, Hispanic and Asian Baptists to work on issues of race and social inequality. Mr. Carter began the effort, called the New Baptist Covenant, in 2007, but it has taken root in only a few cities. The initiative is expanding to enlist Baptist congregations across the country to unite across racial lines.
Goodstein let the 91-year-old former president slime Republicans as racist:
Mr. Carter, a Democrat who was the 39th president, grew up on a farm in Plains, Ga., where many of his friends were the black children of neighboring farmhands. He was raised a Southern Baptist and was the first United States president to call himself a born-again Christian, bringing national attention to the evangelical movement.
Mr. Carter said the election of Mr. Obama was a hopeful sign, but he added, “I think there’s a heavy reaction among some of the racially conscious Republicans against an African-American being president.”
There was no one around to contradict Carter’s claims.
He said recent reports showing high unemployment and incarceration rates among black people, “combined with the white police attacks on innocent blacks,” had “reawakened” the country to the realization that racism was not resolved in the 1960s and ’70s.
Carter managed to spot some “right-wing political philosophy” in Trump’s rhetoric that has so far escaped conservative intellectuals, most of whom utterly reject Trump’s conservative bona fides.
Again, Goodstein doesn’t contradict Carter’s self-assured ranting, but portrayed him as a brave rebel against his own church.
“They have a heavy orientation to right-wing political philosophy, and he obviously is a proponent of that concept,” Mr. Carter said, referring to Mr. Trump.
He pointed out that the evangelicals in the Southern Baptist Convention had aligned themselves with the Republican Party and organized the Moral Majority, a conservative Christian political group, only in the late 1970s, while he was president. Mr. Carter announced that he was leaving the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000, after the denomination solidified its turn to the right and declared that it would not accept women as pastors.
Goodstein loves liberal Christianity that revolves around "social justice" and the purported scourge of economic inequality, and loathes conservative Christian issues like opposition gay marriage and abortion.
Staying on the coddling Democratic presidents’ beat -- Goodstein tweeted this out on Tuesday: “Is Baylor Univ president Kenneth Starr repenting for his relentless prosecution of Bill Clinton? Read this,” followed with a link to a story by colleague Amy Chozick showing the former special prosecutor praising Clinton.
Previous NYT religion reporter Neela Banerjee also celebrated Carter’s New Baptist Convention back in 2008 (it hasn't done much during the interim) and its then-call for universal health coverage and fighting global warming. Members included Al Gore and Children's Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman. Yet Banerjee did not characterize the group as liberal and the Times' headlines hid it ("A Baptist Coalition Aims for Moderate Image," "30 Baptist Groups Build A Bridge Toward Unity”).