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Biden calls for hope, unity in acceptance speech

WILMINGTON, Del. (BP)—Joe Biden accepted the Democratic nomination for president Thursday night (Aug. 20) in a speech that was long on appeals to hope and unity but short on declarations of his positions regarding some of the issues of most importance to Southern Baptists.

In a nearly 25-minute speech, the former vice president continually contrasted the presidency he promises if elected with the administration he described of President Trump.

Biden said Trump has cloaked the United States in darkness, and guaranteed he would instead be “an ally of the light, not the darkness.”

“It’s time for us, for we the people, to come together,” Biden said. “And make no mistake. United we can and will overcome this season of darkness in America.

“We’ll choose hope over fear, facts over fiction, fairness over privilege.”

Biden spoke to a litany of issues but failed to mention directly abortion rights, religious freedom or lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights – topics that often determine for whom many Southern Baptists and other evangelical Christians will vote.

Biden’s party, however, had once again made its positions on such issues clear by adopting its platform Aug. 18 at the Democratic National Convention.

The platform reaffirmed the party’s support for abortion rights and called for repeal of a federal government ban on funding the procedure. It opposed discrimination based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” While the document endorsed free exercise of religion for all Americans, it opposed the Trump administration’s protection of the conscience rights of employers, health-care professionals and social service organizations regarding abortion and LGBT rights.

Messengers to the SBC’s annual meetings have passed multiple resolutions in disagreement with portions of such planks in the Democratic platform.

With American flags in the background, Biden spoke from Wilmington, Del., where he lives, in a basically empty room for a convention that also took place in Milwaukee – the originally planned site – and various satellite locations because of health-and-safety concerns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

His speech came one week before President Trump is scheduled to accept the Republican nomination to close the four-day GOP convention. Trump’s acceptance speech Aug. 27 is scheduled to take place at the White House.

In his acceptance speech, Biden criticized Trump’s handling of the pandemic, saying the president had “failed in his most basic duty to the nation. He’s failed to protect us.”

His “first step” as president “will be to get control” of the coronavirus, Biden said. His administration will implement a strategy he has proposed since March to “develop and deploy rapid tests with results available immediately.” He also promised “a national mandate to wear a mask” to protect others.

America, Biden said, faces “four historic crises” at once: “The worst pandemic in over one hundred years, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the most compelling call for racial justice since the ’60s and the undeniable realities and just accelerating threats of climate change.”

Calling it a “life-changing election,” the Democratic nominee said, “We can choose a path of becoming angrier, less hopeful, more divided; a path of shadow and suspicion. Or, or we can choose a different path and together take this chance to heal, to reform, to unite, a path of hope and light.”

In his policy promises, Biden said he would protect Social Security and Medicare. He also promised to assure “our adversaries the days of cozying up to dictators is over” and to refuse to tolerate foreign interference in American elections.

He also pointed to “one more urgent task” for America. “Will we be the generation that finally wipes out the stain of racism from our national character? I believe we’re up to it,” Biden said.

As Baptist Press reported Aug. 19, messengers to the SBC’s annual meetings have opposed abortion at least 25 times since 1976. They have supported the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of abortion. BP also reported SBC messengers have addressed homosexuality with resolutions at least 19 times in that time period, including opposition to framing homosexuality as a civil rights issue and to government efforts “to validate transgender identity as morally praiseworthy.” In a 2016 resolution, messengers supported conscience protections for people who cannot support policies that are based on unbiblical views of marriage, sexuality and gender.

The Biden campaign has started a Believers for Biden outreach in an effort to reach evangelicals who are dissatisfied with Trump, although it appears unlikely at this point the campaign will increase markedly its share of such voters.

Biden’s withdrawal last year of his long-time support for the Hyde Amendment did nothing to help him reach evangelicals with pro-life convictions.

Biden’s running mate is Sen. Kamala Harris of California. Harris, whose parents are immigrants from Jamaica and India, is the first woman of color to be on the presidential ticket of a major political party.

David Roach contributed to this article