Southern Baptists in the news (unfortunately)-- part 3
on Baptists and the War in Iraq (from Lawrence Vance who asks "What Happened to the Southern Baptists?")
Although he is not a Southern Baptist, Bush has addressed the SBC annual meeting, either by satellite or videotape, every year since 2002. The only exception was last year, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is also not a Southern Baptist, spoke to the SBC messengers in person in Greensboro, North Carolina, because Bush made a secret trip to Iraq during the time of the SBC annual meeting in 2006.
I also appreciate the fact that Southern Baptists are supporting our brave men and women in uniform, and their families. I know you pray for their safety as they defend our people and extend the hope of freedom to the oppressed across the globe. I appreciate the fact you’ve sent care packages, and tend to the spiritual needs as military chaplains or kneel in prayer. I thank you as you support those who volunteer to serve our nation.
If the president were honest, he would have thanked the pastors at the annual meeting for supplying cannon fodder for the state in the form of their young men that they encouraged to join the military.
Southern Baptists have been some of the greatest supporters of Bush and his war. Richard Land, head of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, "the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention," is the author of the infamous "Land Letter" to President Bush in October of 2002 which agreed that Bush’s "policies concerning the ongoing international terrorist campaign against America are both right and just," and that Bush’s "stated policy concerning using military force if necessary to disarm Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction is a just cause." The letter was also signed by other warvangelical, Republican Party operatives like Chuck Colson, Bill Bright, and D. James Kennedy...
What was different about the SBC annual meeting this year is that there was no resolution passed expressing an opinion or concern about the president, the military, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the war on terrorism. However, this does not mean that the messengers to the SBC annual meeting are now anti-war activists. None of the pro-war/pro-military resolutions issued from 2002 to 2006 were repudiated in a resolution like the 1996 resolution that apologized to Blacks for "condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism in our lifetime."
Vance then details those five resolutions, before continuing...
None of the resolutions having anything to do with war or the military issued by the Southern Baptists at their annual meeting since they began the practice in 1845 read anything like the resolutions on those subjects passed since 2002. Even when the United States was fighting "real wars," the SBC was a voice for peace and against militarism.
Vance then details the relevant resolutions from 1863 up to 1991. But then...
- That we the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, June 4-6, 1991, commend and salute the President of the United States as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the commanders in the field, and the men and women of every military rank for their preparedness and resolve, their commitment to duty and to country, their fortitude in the face of danger, and their overwhelming victory in Operation Desert Storm;
- That we especially honor those who died in the conflict for their ultimate sacrifice in the cause of freedom and that we offer our heartfelt sympathy and gratitude to their families;
- That we express reverent thanksgiving to Almighty God, the Judge of all nations, who is mightier than all armies and who alone is able to save, for His guidance, His mercy, and His blessing on our nation in Operation Desert Storm.
Thus began their descent down the slippery slope of militarism, presidential aggrandizement, and statolatry. The transformation was made complete in 2001.
What happened to the Southern Baptists? The events of September 11, 2001, apparently "changed everything." Yet, after the fiasco that is the war in Iraq has been scrupulously exposed many times over, no change in opinion has been forthcoming from the SBC. Instead, the man most responsible for the war is welcomed with applause and ovation. But there is one thing that the events of September 11th didn’t change – the reckless, belligerent, and meddling U.S. foreign policy responsible for the blowback we suffered on that date, and will inevitably experience again since our militaristic, interventionist foreign policy likewise shows no sign of changing.