NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The terrorist attacks on the United States have unified the country’s people in an unusual way, Southern Baptist public policy specialist Richard Land said Sept. 12.
“The impression that I get in Washington, D.C., today is that there are not Democrats and Republicans; there are only Americans,” said Land, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “This has brought America together in a way that I don’t think anything has in a long, long time.”
Land’s comments on “For Faith and Family,” the ERLC’s radio program, came a day after jetliners crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in New York City and Washington, D.C., respectively. The attacks left probably thousands dead.
Land, who was among numerous religious leaders reflecting on the tragedy and its aftermath, said he had encouraged ERLC trustees in their annual meeting the day before “not to harbor hatred in our hearts.” The United States needs to pursue justice, however, Land said.
He called it an “attack on civilization, not just America.”
Americans need to demonstrate they are “not going to allow our way of life to be threatened by these barbarians,” Land said, adding that “these threats must be eliminated. We have the power. The only question is, Do we have the will? And we need to insist that our leaders do this.
“I think we do need to declare war against terrorism,” said Land, who called the terrorists involved “as guilty of mass murder as the [Nazi] criminals we hung at Nuremberg.”
Southern Baptists and other Christians should pray for those who lost loved ones and government leaders, as well as “those who are so deluded that they think this is acceptable behavior,” Land said.
He urged parents “to create a time and a space in which the situation can be discussed” with their children. “We need to be honest. We need to give direct answers that are truthful” yet “age-appropriate,” Land said.
“You need to be physically close to your child,” he said. “Hug them, read them a book, … turn off the television and [do] not expose them to a continuous exposure to this carnage.
“We need to talk to our children and tell them that there are people in the world who do these things,” Land said. “What we need to understand is we can trust Jesus.”
The tragedy should cause many Americans to think about spiritual things, Land said, adding those who were not “certain of your personal relationship with Jesus” to call “For Faith and Family” or to access its Internet site to learn how to become a Christian.
He encouraged Christians to donate blood and attend or hold a prayer service.
“Tell the people in your life that you love them. Tell them today. Tell them tonight,” Land said.
Other Christian leaders commenting on the Sept. 11 tragedy included:
— Evangelist Billy Graham: “Within the last few hours the United States has suffered the most terrible and devastating terrorist attack in its history. Although we do not yet know the full story, these unspeakable acts of brutality strike at the very heart of our free society.
“Our heartfelt prayers and sympathy go out to all who have been directly touched by this tragedy and their families. I call upon all Americans to pray especially for our president and for all who advise him, that they may have divine wisdom as they respond to this insane and horrific act.
“In times like this we realize how weak and inadequate we are, and our greatest need is to turn in repentance and faith to the God of all mercy and the Father of all comfort. If ever there was a time for us to turn to God and to pray as a nation, it is now, that this evil will spread no further. It is also a time for us to remember the words of the Psalmist: ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea … He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still and know that I am God … The Lord of hosts is with us'” (Psalm 46:1-2, 9-11).
— James Dobson, president of Focus on the Family: “Our hearts and prayers are extended to the victims and the loved ones of those whose lives have been devastated by this cowardly act. But it will not destroy us or weaken our resolve. America has always rallied and drawn strength when it has faced tragedy and danger — and it will do so again. We need to pull our loved ones close, and to turn to the God of our fathers who gave us solace and guidance in past troubling times.
“Specifically, I pray that the Lord will use this horrible experience to draw us to himself. We have become self-sufficient and arrogant in recent years — as though we have no need of divine help. It is time for us to do some soul-searching, quite literally, as we reflect on this tragic day.”
— Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association: “This is a time for all Americans to pray for and support the thousands of victims, their families and loved ones that have been affected by the tragic events of today.
“I have seen firsthand the human suffering caused by terrorism and war in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and at the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, the day after it was bombed. And I am deeply saddened that today’s atrocities have reached our own American soil in such a devastating and despicable way.
“These horrors remind us how precious life is and how important it is to be spiritually ready to stand before and give account to Almighty God. My prayer is that the people of this nation will turn their eyes and hearts to the Lord and seek his wisdom and protection.
“May all Americans pray for our president and government leaders, that God would guide and direct them as they lead our nation during these dark hours.”
— Commissioner Joe Noland, territorial commander, The Salvation Army, Eastern United States: “Our hearts are broken for the victims of today’s tragedies, their families and for America. Though The Salvation Army is on site providing assistance to our friends and neighbors who are the victims of this tragic event, our deepest desire would be that all Americans do what we have always done in times of national tragedy — hold fast to our faith and pray for our president and all our nation’s leaders.
“Throughout our history, America has remained strong because we have relied upon our faith in God, who is our deepest and surest help in times of trouble.”
— Charles W. Colson, chairman of Prison Fellowship Ministries and former White House special counsel: “This is a national crisis of unparalleled proportions. It is Pearl Harbor compounded; a day that will redefine infamy in the annuls of American history. I grieve the massive loss of life and pray that God will comfort the families and friends of those who have been taken from us.
“I call on my fellow Christians, and for all Americans, to take time now to pray for those who are grieving, and for President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld and our nation’s leaders. I have tremendous confidence in these leaders in this time of national trial and testing.
“Make no mistake about it. Our nation has sustained the most severe attack in nearly two centuries, and the response must be proportionate, but swift and sure. Anything less will be inadequate in light of our responsibility as the leader of the free world and the responsibility of our government to restore order.
“At the same time, the purpose of terrorism is to destabilize free societies and to take away our liberties. We cannot succumb to this assault on our deepest beliefs by restricting the civil liberties that make this nation great.
“The soul of our nation is facing one of its darkest hours. May God help us.”
Meanwhile, the Christian Internet site Crosswalk.com opened two sites for discussion and prayer: http://forums.crosswalk.com/[email protected]@.ee9bd31 and http://chat.crosswalk.com/.
“Please join us in prayer,” Crosswalk.com’s president, Scott Fehrenbacher, said in an e-mail notice. “Pray that all other attacks would be foreseen and avoided. Pray for the leaders who are analyzing the situation and crafting a response.
“Offer a prayer for those who are injured, for those attempting rescue and for those waiting to hear of the well-being of their loved ones.
“We ask you to pray also for the terrorist groups responsible for the attacks. Pray that love and truth will gain a foothold, that God will draw them to himself, forever changing their hearts.
“In our darkest moments, we can say with David, ‘I lift my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth'” (Psalm 121:1).