Your new book, Through the Year with Jimmy Carter, is a collection of devotionals. You've been a Sunday-school teacher for 35 years?
Longer than that. I started teaching when I was 18 years old, as a midshipman at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. And now I teach at our local church here in Plains. We only have 635 people in Plains, and we have 11 churches full.
Should voters care about the faith of candidates?
I think moral values would be a better way, but I don't see how you can separate faith from moral values. I also don't maintain that you have to be a Christian to exhibit those characteristics in private life or public office.
Do American politicians overplay their Christianity?
Excessively so. Some of that originated in opposition to me. The so-called Moral Majority came into being to oppose me and was espoused by Ronald Reagan in his campaign against me.
Are you optimistic about Israel's future?
No, I'm not. The U.S. has the least influence in the Middle East now than it's had since Israel was formed. We are totally immune to any sort of influence from the Palestinians or from the Arab world. We are completely in bed with the Israelis, who are persecuting the Palestinians horribly, and this is contrary, I think, to the best interest of Israel.
What do you think it means that Iran seems to have its first nuclear fuel rod?
Well, of course, the religious leaders of Iran have sworn on their word of honor that they're not going to manufacture nuclear weapons. If they are lying, then I don't see that as a major catastrophe because they'll only have one or two military weapons. Israel probably has 300 or so.
Would you handle the Iran hostage crisis differently now?
No. A lot of my advisers said that we needed to be more aggressive, and I was tempted. But I was patient, and every hostage came home safe but a lot later than I wanted.
What concerns you most about America today?
Every one of my successors has been in gratuitous wars. I think we could have resolved most of those conflicts in a peaceful way. And we share very little of our wealth with other people. These are a violation of the teachings of the Prince of Peace.
Do you have to be able to square-dance to be President?
Not exactly, but if I hadn't been a square dancer, I wouldn't have been President. When I had my first political campaign, my fellow square dancers, who came from all over my district, helped me in the individual counties, and I was very narrowly elected. Had I lost that first election in 1962, I would not have stayed in politics.
How much can a President do to fix the economy?
The President's a distant third after the Federal Reserve and the Congress except when we do something like go into Iraq and have an unnecessary war.
Given your faith, are you looking forward to dying?
I'm not looking forward to it. I don't fear it, though. I would rather stay alive and well for as long as I can. I have an adventurous life. My wife and I have been married for 65 years. We take our whole family off on a vacation every year right after Christmas, and I pay all the bills, so 100% of the family shows up.