In an open letter, Southern Baptist Convention president Ronnie Floyd, along with the support and signatures of 16 former SBC presidents, called on President Obama to “take the necessary actions now” against ISIS terrorists.
“Since ISIS is a continuing threat to world peace in a way unknown to us since the Nazis of World War II, we humbly call upon you to use the influence and power of your distinguished office to take the necessary actions now in this urgent hour to bring an end to these human atrocities,” the March 1 letter said.
“The abuse, brutalization, and murder of children, women, and men that is occurring before the world calls our country to lead forward to bring this to an end.”
The open letter comes in the wake of numerous reports of ISIS killings that include the beheading of 21 Egyptians — reportedly Coptic Christians — the death of an American aid worker, and a Jordanian pilot being burned alive. And ISIS captured more than 200 Assyrian Christians last week (Feb. 23), CNN reported. Women, children and elderly were among those taken captive during an ISIS attack on villages near Tal Tamer in northern Syria, according to the report.
SBC Executive Committee president Frank S. Page said he is often asked about the ISIS threat. “People are frightened, people are concerned. We need [President Obama] to act and to act decisively,” he said. “I join with the other SBC presidents in supporting our current [SBC] president’s call to action.”
Bryant Wright, former SBC president and pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, Marietta, Ga., described the letter as “a plea to the president to take a stronger leadership role” against ISIS.
“It will be important to join with Egypt and Jordan and others in that part of the world to show this is not just the defense of Christians but you’re talking about religious liberty for all,” said Wright, who is among some Christian ministers invited to Washington D.C. this week to hear Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference March 2. “… The government has been ordained by God to use its might, be it military might, police power, whatever it is to defend the citizens and to uphold justice and punish evil.”
James T. Draper, Jr., a former SBC president, said decent nations all over the world should be outraged at ISIS’ barbaric actions that are a threat to everyone.
“I don’t think America can avoid taking leadership in it,” he said. “It’s who we are, and it’s an opportunity for us to take the lead in something that should be widely embraced by other nations.”
Former SBC president Bobby Welch noted, “While we do pray for an attempt to win the world to Christ, it is also our God-given responsibility to speak out and take actions in opposition to the barbaric assaults of ISIS and all its ungodly like-minded counterparts.”
During a Feb. 16 report at the semi-annual SBC Executive Committee meeting in Nashville, Floyd told Southern Baptist leaders they “must speak for those who are unable to speak up for themselves.” See full stories here and here.
Southern Baptists “need to stand for the children, the women and the men who are being brutalized and abused and murdered globally, all in the name of religion,” Floyd said during his EC report. “We need to champion, as Southern Baptists, religious liberty globally.”
He noted Southern Baptists also must never compromise their No. 1 goal to “penetrate and push back the lostness in this world.” Floyd urged EC members to call on their churches “to join in this valiant effort of deep prayer for men and women and children who are being abused and murdered in all kinds of ways.”
In the open letter to the president, Floyd told Obama that Southern Baptists are praying for him.
“Mr. President, just as Esther led forward for the deliverance of the Jews in her day, we believe you also ‘have come to the kingdom for such a time as this,'” he wrote. “You have been given an historical moment to lead in protecting the people and the principle of religious freedom in the world. We are praying for you to have wisdom and courage in this hour.”
Other past SBC presidents who signed the letter include Bailey E. Smith, Charles F. Stanley, Jerry Vines, Morris H. Chapman, H. Edwin Young, Sr., James B. Henry, Tom Elliff, Paige Patterson, James Merritt, Jack Graham, Johnny M. Hunt and Fred Luter.
Floyd addresses this open letter on his blog at ronniefloyd.com. His weekly blog is also posted at SBC.net on the President’s Page by clicking here.
See full text of open letter below.
March 2, 2015
Dear President Obama:
Since ISIS is a continuing threat to world peace in a way unknown to us since the Nazis of World War II, we humbly call upon you to use the influence and power of your distinguished office to take the necessary actions now in this urgent hour to bring an end to these human atrocities. The abuse, brutalization, and murder of children, women, and men that is occurring before the world calls our country to lead forward to bring this to an end.
As you do this, please know that we are not only praying for you, but assure you that you will have the unequivocal support of the vast majority of America’s largest, and some say most multi-ethnic and multi-lingual, Protestant denomination in America. The world will applaud your courage and compassion as you defend those that Scripture calls “the least of these.”
Mr. President, just as Esther led forward for the deliverance of the Jews in her day, we believe you also “have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” You have been given an historical moment to lead in protecting the people and the principle of religious freedom in the world. We are praying for you to have wisdom and courage in this hour.
These former presidents of our Convention join me, the current President of the Southern Baptist Convention, in making this humble, but urgent appeal to you.
Sincerely and Prayerfully,
Ronnie Floyd, President
Southern Baptist Convention
Bailey E. Smith, 1980-1982
James T. Draper, Jr., 1982-1984
Charles F. Stanley, 1984-1986
Jerry Vines, 1988-1990
Morris H. Chapman, 1990-1992
H. Edwin Young, Sr., 1992-1994
James B. Henry, 1994-1996
Tom Elliff, 1996-1998
Paige Patterson, 1998-2000
James Merritt, 2000-2002
Jack Graham, 2002-2004
Bobby Welch, 2004-2006
Frank S. Page, 2006-2008
Johnny M. Hunt, 2008-2010
Bryant Wright, 2010-2012
Fred Luter, 2012- 2014
– Shawn Hendricks is managing editor of Baptist Press.