Both the current and past presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission have criticized President Obama’s recently announced plan to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary who retired after 25 years as Southern Baptist’s top spokesman for public policy concerns in 2013, said in a press release that “appeasing dictators and compromising with evil” is not the way to help Cubans. He urged members of the Senate not to lift an economic embargo put in place after Fidel Castro seized control of Cuba in 1959.
“Cuba is in terrible, desperate shape, and our president is simply throwing the country a life-preserver because of the terrible economic conditions,” Land said. “The reality is that once we know the truth, the truth shall set us free. And the truth is that appeasing dictators and compromising with evil does not work.”
“Reestablishing ties will only prolong the agony of the Cuban people,” Land said. “As Americans, we must do what we can to help lift the yoke of oppression from the Cuban people, but that will not be accomplished by throwing a lifeline to the totalitarian, rights-abusing government of Castro’s Cuba.”
Russell Moore, a former seminary professor and administrator who took the helm of the ERLC in June 2013, said on Twitter that he agrees with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a Cuban-American and chief opponent of the president’s plans to normalize relations with Havana.
Moore said the U.S. should have used leverage to get human-rights concessions and contended that the embargo has worked for its intended purpose “to isolate Cuba and keep it a client state.” He encouraged prayer “for a free Cuba, with full religious liberty and other human rights.”
Much is made about Land’s and Moore’s contrasting style. Land’s outspokenness made him a lightning rod for controversy and established his reputation as a mover and shaker in the Religious Right. Moore, on the other hand, has tried to keep a safe distance from partisan politics and in some circles is labeled a “social liberal.”
Their agreement about Cuba, however, puts them at odds with more moderate Baptist leaders who issued statements praising Obama’s new Cuba policy.
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SOURCE: Baptist News Global