Majority of Baptists Support Bush
By ROSE FRENCH
Associated Press Writer
09/28/06 "AP" -- -- The head of public policy for the Southern
Baptist Convention says an overwhelming majority of Baptists
still support President Bush and his handling of the Iraq war.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, Richard
Land said that exit polls showed about 84 percent of Southern
Baptists voted for Bush in 2004. The Iraq war hasn't
significantly eroded that support, he said, despite recent polls
that show Republicans losing ground with moderate evangelicals.
"I'm not ready to throw in the towel on Iraq yet," said Land,
president of the Washington, D.C.-based Ethics and Religious
Liberty Commission, the Southern Baptist Convention's public
"It would be foolish to say anybody's pleased," Land said. "I
don't think the president's pleased with the progress of the
war. Clearly, he would have wished things would have gone
better. So do I."
But, Land added: "I still think Iraq is one of the more noble
things we've done. We went there to try to restore freedom and
to bring freedom to the Middle East."
An Associated Press-Ipsos poll conducted earlier this month
indicated that 42 percent of white evangelicals disapprove of
the job Bush has done as president.
But Land contends Bush has lost less support from Southern
Baptists than "virtually any other constituency." The
Nashville-based SBC is the largest Protestant denomination in
the U.S. with over 16 million members.
"I don't think there's any question that the vast majority of
Southern Baptists still strongly support this president and his
policies," Land said.
Southern Baptists have been among the most vocal of conservative
Christian groups in support of the Bush administration.
The president has spoken by video link to the Southern Baptist
national convention three times in recent years and outgoing SBC
President Jack Graham called the president "a man of personal
faith whose leadership is great for America."
Land, who also serves on the U.S. Commission on International
Religious Freedom, an independent and bipartisan federal agency,
said the United States needs to worry less about trying to
improve its image in the Middle East.
Instead, Land says, "we ought to go negative."
"We ought to be spending our money explaining what the Middle
East would look like if the jihadists win, what Afghanistan
looked like when the Taliban was in control and what the role of
"We need to focus more on the fact that most people being killed
in Iraq are not Americans but Muslims being killed by other
Muslims," he said. "If democracy loses in the Middle East, it's
Muslims who will be the primary losers."
Southern Baptist Convention: - www.sbc.net/
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