Our Endangered Values : America's Moral crisis

by Jimmy Carter

Paper Book, 2005



President Carter has written importantly about his spiritual life and faith. In this book, he offers a personal consideration of "moral values" as they relate to the important issues of the day. He puts forward a passionate defense of separation of church and state, and a strong warning of where the country is heading as the lines between politics and rigid religious fundamentalism are blurred. He reacts to some trends involving both the religious and the political worlds as they have increasingly become intertwined, and including some of the most crucial and controversial issues of the day--frequently encapsulated under "moral values." They include preemptive war, women's rights, terrorism, civil liberties, homosexuality, abortion, the death penalty, science and religion, environmental degradation, nuclear arsenals, America's global image, fundamentalism, and the melding of religion and politics. Sustained by his faith, Carter assesses these issues in a forceful and unequivocal but balanced and courageous way.--From publisher description.… (more)


(187 ratings; 3.7)

User reviews

LibraryThing member karieh
It's been a long time since I started and finished a book in one night - and I never expected former president Jimmy Carter's book to be such a fast read.

The more I find out about this man, the more I admire him. I was only 6 when he became president - and I knew three things about him. He was a former farmer, he had a brother named Billy and (later) he was the president during the Iran hostage crisis.

Since I've gotten older and since he's gone on to do many admirable things on the world stage, I've come to move him high up on my list of great people.

"Our Endangered Values" only reinforces that belief. These are essays on many of the issues that trouble me as I look at the horribly wrong direction our country is headed - and I now know that Carter is even more worried than I. (I didn't think that was possible!) He, of course, has been intimately involved in many of the most pressing issues of our time, and has met many of the world leaders involved.

Most of the book is tied into his Christian faith in some way, most powerfully, I think, when he talks about the rise of fundamentalism in the world. Not only Islamic fundamentalism, which seems to jump to mind first, but also Christian fundamentalism - a trend I find almost as scary. Maybe more so, at times, because I feel it affecting our country every day, and not in positive ways. He points out that fundamentalists of any faith have the following in common: They are led my authoritarian males who have an overwhelming commitment to subjugate women and to dominate their fellow believers, they believe the past is better than the present, they are convinced that they are right and that anyone who contradicts them is ignorant and possibly evil, they are militant in fighting against any challenge to their beliefs...hmmm - sound remarkably like the idiot in the White House!

By the end of the book, I found myself almost feeling worse for Jimmy Carter than for our country. Those institutions and people in which he had such faith are failing him and are heading down paths he is no longer willing to follow.

Carter writes with great emotion, and clearly refutes neoconservative arguments on abortion, the death penalty, the war in Iraq. (I was appalled by this fact: 90% of all executions are carried out in just four countries: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United States. In fact, our nation and Somalia (which has no organized government) are the only two that have refused to ratify the International Covenant on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits execution for crimes committed by children. Nice company we're in.)

I found myself moved by his dismay and amazed by some of his facts, but I didn't finish the book with any sense of purpose. He does not offer much of a solution to the problems that are facing our country. He very clearly writes against what we should not be doing but doesn't really tell us what we should be doing to stem this tide.

I guess I can always look at my "Bush Countdown" clock for that...
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LibraryThing member madamejeanie
I've always been amazed that the country was so concerned about
whether Carter would be a good President because he was a professed
"born again Christian," and yet in the years after his term ended,
suddenly (according to the devout fundamentalists across the country)
belief in God was mandatory, the Bible scriptures held all the answers,
and God suddenly became property of only the Republican party. All
Democrats were labeled as godless liberals who reveled in killing
babies, adding massive programs to an already too-big government, and
were probably just a shade less sinister than the Red Communists with
their cries for affordable national health care programs. That's why Carter's moderate voice and considered opinions as put forth
in this book are so needed right now. No one can argue that this isn't
a highly intelligent, God-fearing man who lives his faith every day of
his life and has a unique perspective on government, having been there
and done that. He takes on the "fumdamentalist" views on everything
from gay marriage and abortion, to tax cuts, the horrifying new doctrine
of pre-emptive war, science and religion, church and state, the
subservience of women, environmentalism, and the sharp and growing
difference between rich and poor in this world. His is a clear and
intelligent voice, crying in the wilderness, justifying so-called
"liberal" view-points, and asking, somewhat rhetorically, "What Would
Jesus Have Done About Iraq?" He's trying to get America to open our
eyes about the unfair and unAmerican policies of the new Conservatives
who seem to have taken over our government. He's confronting the
"neocons" where they stand, on pulpits across America, and demanding an
explanation of how the Bush Doctrine of Pre-Emptive War can co-exist
with a Christian philosophy of turning the other cheek or even with our
own American history. He exposes something that I have long suspected
was true: that the foreign and environmental policies of this country
are being based, incredibly, on dogma from the Book of Revelations. No
need to take care of the earth because it's going to end soon anyway.
Back Israel, right or wrong, because that's how it's got to be.

Carter makes it obvious that the policies and doctrines of the current
government are paving the way for the fall of America and the
destruction of some of our basic values. This book was a joy to read,
the voice of a moderate who just happens to be a Democrat. It makes
total sense and finds the common ground between both parties and plans.
Whether you are Christian or atheist, Pagan or Jew, there is common
sense in this book that will appeal to that part of you that USED to be
a proud American. I'd recommend this book if you are at all interested
in politics or the direction this country is heading and why.
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LibraryThing member drpeff
Initially not too surprising, but the info on iraq was eye-opening
LibraryThing member DugsBooks
A good read, I think Mr. Carter used this title to critique the current administration and rightly so. He has tremendous insights into people and current events.

I bought & got this book autographed on November 3,2005 at Books A Million in Concord NC. We were moved around frequently while waiting and there were cameras on everyone who approached the President for the autograph. Mr. Carter is very polite and gracious in person.

I have a habit of putting my hand to my ear and leaning forward when I need to hear something repeated. President Carter said something I didn't catch and I thought I was going to be tackled by a security guard when I forgot myself and leaned forward. I think I will just pick up one of the previously signed copies and snap photos the next time I get the autograph of an ex president!
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LibraryThing member kuzmatt9
Imagine that, a smart President. Maybe he wasn't the most successful President we ever had, but The Carter Center's work in fighting poverty, proliferation, and disease has been amazing. A quick read, but quite good.
LibraryThing member libmhleigh
The main problem I had with this book is that it couldn’t decide what it wanted to be. Part of the time it wanted to be a serious political analysis, but throughout were random *facts* such as “there has been a substantial increase in the number of Republicans who have confidence in government, with little difference now between the parties in that regard,€? or “prejudice against the poor is decreasing significantly among all Americans,â€? without any attempt at justifying these *facts* with actual FACTS. Where are these numbers coming from? Polls, surveys? The author provides no footnotes, no endnotes, we are just to take his word for it (hello! Don’t question Carter! What are you thinking?) Sometimes it wants to be religious (with the reader constantly being reminded that Carter is a good religious guy. A Baptist. And a good one. Because he loves Jesus. He is one good Christian Baptist who likes Jesus alright). Sometimes it wants to be a memoir. (Did you know Carter was president? Carter is not sure you are aware. To combat this, he will reassure you of this fact over and over and over again. He was a president, you know).

Shockingly enough, I probably agreed with at least 75% of the politics expressed in Carter’s book. But his way of expressing them drove me completely, completely insane.
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LibraryThing member midlevelbureaucrat
My first vote for president was for Jimmy Carter in 1980. I'd vote for him over any republican and most democrats today. I can't think of any other public individual who better combines a grasp of the political scene, the promise of American idealism, and personal morality than President Carter.

This is a fine book that explores the issues and controversies facing America in the 2000s in the context from a moral & Christian perspective. President Carter not so subtly blasts the current administration and those who blindly cowtow to their global view, which, his view, is neither Christian or moral in word or practice.

This is a fine book, though already a tad dated in discussing rapidly changing current events. It should be read by anyone who wishes for the return of common decency and morality to American society and politics.
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LibraryThing member Othemts
The former President takes a look at contemporary politics through his own spiritual worldview. Highly biographical, Carter explores changes in the government and his church over the past thirty years. He like many is concerned of the growth and power of Fundamentalism in public life over this time. Nothing much new here just a summation of liberal Christian values and what damage is being caused by those who think opposite.

“You only need two loves in your life: for God, and for the person in front of you at any particular time.” – Reverend Eloy Cruz, p. 23

“I believe that anyone can be successful in life, regardless of natural talent or the environment within which we live. This is not based on measuring success by human competitiveness for wealth, possessions, influence, and fame, but adhering to God’s standards of truth, justice, humility, service, compassion, forgiveness, and love.” - p. 28

“When we recite the Lord’s Prayer and pray for God’s kingdom on earth, we are asking for an end to political and economic injustice within worldly regimes.” – p. 178
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LibraryThing member clark.hallman
I admire former President Jimmy Carter very much. I voted for him when he was elected President and when he lost his bid for reelection due to the Iran hostage situation. In this book he expresses his strong support for the separation of church and state and his concern that fundamentalist religious fanatics have been endangering the moral fiber of American society. He also discusses how such fundamentalist political influence has been embraced by the Bush administration to a point that endangers our human rights, our democratic way of life, and our country’s stature among the nations of the world. He discusses the death penalty, environmental degradation, nuclear arsenals, terrorism and the melding of religion and politics. It’s a very personal, but well presented work that I enjoyed very much even though it did make me somewhat sad.… (more)
LibraryThing member cbradley
This was the first book I ever read by former president Carter. I don’t know what I was expecting, but this certainly wasn’t it. Today it seems hard to imagine that one of our most deeply spiritual presidents was a Democrat. Our Endangered Values describes the rise of the Christian right and the danger this posses. Carter is simple and elegant, using examples from his own life to illustrate how our values have become endangered by a religious/political movement.… (more)
LibraryThing member jwood652
Former president Carter is often characterized as a devout Christian peanut farmer. While that is accurate he is much more than that. This book reveals that he is also a career Navy man and a nuclear physicist and of course, former POTUS who has a unique and invaluable perspective of world affairs as well as Christian beliefs. Although many may expect a narrow minded, Christian-centric diatribe against people who don't share his beliefs this book is a well thought out study of the endangered values of the US. After reading the book I have a new found respect for this amazing man. His revelation of many problems with the US government and the negative influence of fundamentalist thinking was not a total surprise. The insight into the details and extent of the problem was, at times, frightening. I recommend this book to anyone who gives a damn about our world and fellow humans regardless of personal beliefs.… (more)
LibraryThing member trilliams
Perhaps the greatest ex-president of all time (I know, Harding never got the chance), it's a good look at his mid-2000s assessment of the moral issues facing the country. As an admittedly non-religious person, it's interesting to see the perspective of a lifelong devout Christian.
LibraryThing member mldavis2
Jimmy Carter is one of the finest, most honest politicians and presidents the U.S. has elected, as well as being one of the most intelligent, religious and well educated, and his insights, evaluations, warnings and frustrations are all laid bare here.

One of the things that struck me is the continued timeliness of the book despite having been published in 2005. His analysis of the Middle East situation is "spot-on" and his concerns for the long term thoughtlessness and selfishness of U.S. political decisions are prophetic after eleven years. Statistics and information are well documented.

This book should be a "must read" regardless of one's political philosophy.
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LibraryThing member RosemerrySong
Gracefully written, this book explains how many of the changes in American policy are responsible for today's economic, social, and political issues at home and abroad. An important book for everyone to read.
LibraryThing member nancygrahamogne
I found this book to be a fascinating examination of the simultaneous rise of fundamentalism in religion and politics -- not only in other countries but our own. Carter reiterates his own Christian faith to ensure his readers do not misinterpret his views as anti-faith ... instead drawing bold paradoxes between the biblical Jesus and the political agenda which most virulently aligns itself "with Jesus." Though I, too, struggled with the lack of reference noting, I found Carter's assessment incisive.… (more)


New York : Simon & Schuster, c2005.

Original publication date



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