“I always referred to incumbent President Gerald Ford as ‘my distinguished opponent’ and that’s the way he referred to me. When I later ran against Gov. [Ronald] Reagan, it was the same thing, ‘my distinguished opponent,’” Carter said of his runs for president.Carter’s 1976 bid for the White House was cast in the shadow of President Nixon’s resignation following the Watergate scandal. Carter was a seemingly squeaky clean and relatively unknown one-term governor,Ugging a Baptist churchgoer who became a darling of evangelical Christian voters.On the campaign trail, Carter proudly advertised that he had been “born again.” Historian Randall Balmer dubbed him the “Redeemer President” in his book « God in the White House, » largely crediting Carter with bringing the vocabulary of evangelicalism into national politics.But any notion Carter would govern as he taught Sunday school was dispelled when he took office. « I was taught to believe in the complete separation of church and state,” he said.
Carter says he’s a disciple of President Jefferson, who famously wrote in a letter that the First Amendment established « a wall of separation between Church & State.”Carter’s embrace of that idea did not always go over well at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.“I got into some trouble for that because,Ugging for instance, I didn’t want Billy Graham, who was my friend, to come and have worship services inside the White House, as had been done in previous presidencies both Democrat and Republican,” he said.Graham, Carter said, was not happy but later came to understand it.Carter’s presidential daily diaries, compiled by the White House staff to record the movement, conversations and meetings of the president, show Graham and Carter communicated often via telephone and over meals.
Indeed, Carter said it was impossible to separate his Christian faith from his daily life in the White House.Long before he worked out of the Oval Office, he and his wife Rosalynn developed the habit of reading a passage of scripture aloud every night: “She would take a turn one night and I would take the next.”It was a practice they kept up in the White House and continue to this day, reading through the Bible and then starting again at the beginning. Carter said he and Rosalynn have recently been reading a Spanish translation of the Bible to keep up their language skills.“I tried to put into my services as president the teachings of Christ,” he said.Ugging To Carter that meant policies that pushed for peace around the globe and cared for the needy.