President Obama’s suggestion that evangelicals often devote more resources to fighting abortion than caring for the poor reflects ignorance concerning denominations like the Southern Baptist Convention, Frank S. Page said on a national radio broadcast.
“We are involved” in fighting poverty, Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee said May 16 on the “Washington Watch” radio program’s weekend edition hosted by Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “So there was both arrogance and ignorance involved in his comments. It bothered me deeply. We care about people.”
Page was referencing comments made by Obama at a May 12 panel discussion on poverty hosted by Georgetown University. The president acknowledged that some conservatives “deeply care” about the poor and “exhibit that through their churches.” But later, he said poverty relief “is oftentimes viewed” by churches “as ‘nice to have’ relative to an issue like abortion” in discussions of “the thing that is really going to capture the essence of who we are as Christians.”
Obama specifically referenced “the evangelical community” among the referents of his comments.
Page said he has “met with President Obama many times,” “heard his personal testimony” and served on an advisory council for the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. “So I was deeply disappointed to hear what he said. To be honest with you, President Obama owes evangelical Christians an apology.”
Page estimated at least 40,000 of the approximately 46,000 churches in cooperation with the SBC have ministries aimed at helping the poor. First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., where Page served as pastor for nine years, offered a free medical clinic six days a week and “dozens” of after-school programs, he said, citing the church as illustrative of what many other congregations do.
Southern Baptists “have the third largest disaster relief ministry in the world,” Page said. “Who do you think is involved right now in Nepal? Well, we are. We were there before the government was. When the government leaves, we’ll be there. We were involved in Hurricane Sandy.”
President George W. Bush once told Page he was flying over New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and asked, “Who are all those people with yellow hats and yellow shirts?” The reply came, “Mr. President, those are Southern Baptist volunteers.”
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SOURCE: Baptist Press