Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis by Jimmy Carter.
Simon & Schuster: NY, 2005.

In searching for a book title of Jimmy Carter's regarding Israel and Palestine, I came across this book at the public library. As Carter has lived his life with an emphasis on moral values, including his governing of his state and the nation, I wanted to see what he had to say. The book was written at a time when I, too, felt that our people were (and still are) moving away from living based on moral values, no matter how much people say they are important. Money has become the all important motivation for most of our society. For some, out of necessity.

I was surprised by the focus of the book. He talks about the merging of politics and fundamentalist religion and how that is shaping governmental policy. For a President who was and is strongly religious (even teaching Sunday school post government life), this was not what I was expecting to hear. However, as a person who is much more knowledgeable of the workings and players in our federal government, he saw connections between religious communities and politicians that I did not know existed. For ex., growing up in Texas, in the 1970s through 1980s, I was aware of the Moral Majority and the Christian Right, but they were considered extremist, fringe groups, and mostly not taken too seriously. I moved to New England in the early 1990s, and apparently, they started to become a stronger force within the Republican Party, with church leaders becoming politicians. It seemed to me that, as the Republican Party started to use the phrase "family values" more often in the 1990s, it started to move farther away from social responsibility. Communities and any funding of them through the 1990s and 2000s became less important to their supporters. We used to have hospitals and family clinics everywhere that were supported by the communities. They are mostly gone now, greatly adding to the health care mess that confronts us. In this book, Jimmy Carter confirms things that I felt, but did not talk about much, because I thought that what I was feeling was a personal struggle. What I thought was just Republicans using buzz words to cover over their motivation towards money and power was also a takeover of the Party by an extremist agenda, paralleling a takeover within the Christian churches (Though Protestants and Catholics have different leaders, their hierarchies have moved a similar direction).

Jimmy Carter addresses many controversial issues in this book - science and religion, women's rights, human rights, civil rights, and foreign policy among them. He discusses historical positions and where we are headed with governmental policy. While this book was written in 2005, the issues are still relevant. In many ways, policies have not changed since then. It is a good discussion of governmental policy between 1995 and 2005, and sadly through 2012.

related-social values, Christianity and politics, church and state, United States politics and government, moral and ethical issues, human rights, foreign relations, religious fundamentalism
RL=YA-adult; adult book, but accessible to YA.

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