In an open letter addressed to President Barack Obama, Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd and 16 past denomination presidents urged “necessary actions” to put an end to ISIS. The letter, released on Floyd’s personal website, comes just weeks after ISIS militants in Libya beheaded 21 Coptic Christians.
“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 letter stated.
Upon reading this letter, I felt somewhat conflicted about its content. (In full disclosure, my father is among the former SBC presidents who signed the letter.) On the positive side, it feels like a genuine effort to speak out about an important issue and it attempts to deal directly with the matter at hand rather than score political cheap shots. Related to this, the letter was surprisingly respectful of a Democratic President with whom most of these signers have deep disagreements.
“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,'” the letter stated. “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.”
But despite its respectful tone and seemingly good intentions, the Southern Baptist leaders’ letter overlooked five critical components:
1. The Actual Date: The letter was dated March 2, 2014. This was probably a simple mistake, but it isn’t a good look. When you’re sending a public letter to the leader of the free world that you hope others will take seriously, you want to get the date right.