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President’s Sister Praised for Cancelling Speech to Proselytizers

June 5, 1978
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Ruth Carter Stapleton, President Carter’s evangelist sister, announced here that she has cancelled a scheduled appearance before a Hebrew Christian group devoted to proselytizing Jews. Mrs. Stapleton said she called off the engagement “because I do not wish to become involved in any controversy that sets one group against another.”

She made the announcement in a statement read at a press conference Friday convened with the assistance of the American Jewish Committee. She had planned to address the opening of a three day conference of the B’nai Yeshua group June 8. She said it was her brother, the President, who first made her aware of the strong feelings aroused in the American Jewish community when she accepted the B’nai Yeshua’s invitation “some months ago.” She said the President spoke to her about it at a family wedding two weeks ago. He did not advise her what to do and the decision to cancel was her’s alone, Mrs. Stapleton said, “I am a Christian,” she said. “I have never attempted in any way to negate the faith and practices of any other group, however for they might be from my own personal beliefs, nor would I ever willingly be used by any group to attack the faith of any of us. I would not associate myself with any effort that would seek to undermine the survival of the Jewish people as a distinctive ethnic group,” Mrs. Stapleton declared. Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum, Interreligious Affairs Director of the AJCommittee, praised Mrs. Stapleton’s decision at the press conference. He said her action “is an expression of moral courage, civility and decency. It is above all an important gesture of respect for the integrity of Judaism and for the Jewish people, and thereby contributes to strengthening the American traditions of religious liberty and religious pluralism, the keystones of American democracy.”

The American Jewish Congress also expressed gratification at Mrs. Stapleton’s decision to cancel her appearance at the B’nai Yeshua conference. “Her action, we believe, will be welcomed by Jews and Americans of every faith, who recognize that respect for the rights and beliefs of others lie at the heart of the American social compact,” Richard Cohen, AJCongress associate executive director, said.

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