An open letter to President-elect Barack Obama
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Dear President-elect Obama,
First, congratulations on your successful campaign to become the 44th president of our beloved United States of America. This was a historic election in terms of the massive increase in voter participation as a percentage of the electorate.
I hope you know that there are tens of millions of Americans who did not vote for you who are still very, very pleased that an African-American has been elected president of the United States.
The fact that this could happen in a country with as tragic a racial past as America's says something noble and fine about the American experiment and the glorious "opportunity democracy" it has spawned. After much struggle, we as a nation have chosen together to live up to the promises of our founding document, the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
For those of us who came of age during the Civil Rights Era and were inspired by Dr. King, it is very gratifying to watch our nation elect a person of color to the highest political office in the land, even someone for whom they may not have voted because of serious policy differences.
Mr. President-elect, the Bible exhorts us to pray for "kings and all who are in authority" (1 Timothy 2:1-2). We, therefore, covenant to pray for you, your family, and your administration. We will pray that God will grant you godly wisdom in all your decision-making. We pray with faith and confidence that "the king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water; he turneth it whithersoever he will" (Proverbs 21:1).
On issues which involve moral and ethical values, we will both pray for you and exhort you to apply biblical principles and values as you make policy decisions which will impact the families of America and the world. We will also pray that God will bless you with safety, health and all spiritual blessings.
On issues where we agree, such as standing against genocide in Darfur and protecting basic human rights around the world, we will support you.
On issues where we disagree with the approach your administration takes, we will do our best to persuade you to change your approach. When we are unsuccessful, we will stand by our convictions and will exercise our God-given responsibilities and Constitutionally protected right to work for alternative solutions which are more in accord with our convictions.
Southern Baptists remain unalterably committed to the protection of unborn human life. The vast majority of Southern Baptists believe that a pre-born baby is a distinct human life, according to both science and the Bible (Psalms 51:5; Psalms 139-13-16; Jeremiah 1:5; Luke 1:41). The euphemism of "choice" or "reproductive freedom" cannot disguise or justify killing a baby. Government has a proper role in protecting lives, including the lives of the unborn. Southern Baptists, by national resolutions, have opposed abortion on demand, and have called for public policies which severely restrict abortion and which promote alternatives such as adoption.
Mr. President-elect, you have said you want to unite us as a nation. An excellent place to work for such unity and consensus on the life issue would be for you to put your full and vigorous support behind the Democrats for Life House Caucus initiative known as the Pregnant Women Support Act or the 95-10 Initiative (because its goal is to reduce abortion by 95 percent over a 10-year period).
This bill (H.R. 3192 and S. 2407), sponsored in the last Congress by Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-TN) and Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA), would, among other things:
-- establish a toll-free number to direct women to places that will provide support during and following their pregnancy;
-- fund collection of accurate data on abortion;
-- provide child care to low-income and student parents;
-- provide parenting education in maternity group homes;
-- make the Adoption Tax Credits permanent;
-- ensure that pregnant women are not denied health care by insurance companies and that coverage is continued for newborns;
-- codify the regulation that extends coverage under the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to low-income pregnant women and unborn children;
-- improve services for pregnant women who are victims of domestic violence;
-- provide services to parents receiving a positive test diagnosis for Down syndrome or other prenatally diagnosed conditions;
-- increase funding for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program;
-- provide grants to institutions of high education to fund pregnant and parenting student services;
-- provide new mothers with free home visits by registered nurses.
All of these measures would help fulfill the pledge made in the 2008 Democratic Party platform, which "strongly supports a woman's decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and post-natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs."
Mr. President-elect, America needs moral conviction, not moral neutrality. America's children need a model of leadership committed both to excellence and to virtue. May God help you, Mr. President-elect, and make you that leader. And may God bless America!
Yours in His service,
Richard Land is president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.