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Congress’ Southern Baptists express hope

Updated Jan. 23

WASHINGTON (BP)–Southern Baptists in Congress expressed a range of views about President Obama and the new administration when contacted by Baptist Press, although members of both parties say they are hopeful that both sides of the aisle can work together to find solutions.

Twenty-three members of the House of Representatives are members of Southern Baptist Churches. Eighteen are Republican, five are Democrat. Baptist Press contacted several of them in recent days and asked them what they hopes were for the Obama administration. Following are their responses:

— Rep. Spencer Bachus, R.-Ala., member of Hunter Street Baptist Church in Hoover, Ala.:

“A presidential inauguration is always a special time for America and the world. It demonstrates the continuous peaceful transfer of power in our democracy, where the people rule. This is a privilege that we must cherish and which brave U.S. soldiers across the globe defend for us each and every day.

“The assumption of office by President Obama carries historical importance for our country, as evidenced by the millions of citizens from Alabama and around the country expected in Washington for the inaugural festivities. We look forward to listening to the message of his inaugural speech.

“The President, Congress and the American people are facing challenging times, from our economic problems to the continuing need to keep our country safe from terrorism. Time and time again, Americans have proven their ability to come together, solve problems, and move forward to a brighter future. It is my hope that this spirit will be with us as we begin a new presidency and new session of Congress. The American people expect no less than our best efforts as we remain one nation under God.”

— Rep. Bobby Bright, D.-Ala., member of First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala.:

“One of President Obama’s campaign pledges was to govern in a non-partisan, inclusive manner. His actions after the election, including his nominees for the cabinet, have shown that he is living up to his promises. It is my hope that the Obama administration will continue down this same path.

“The number one issue facing Americans is the economy; unemployment is rising, credit lines to businesses remain tight, foreclosures are skyrocketing, and Americans are worried about their retirements. I believe President Obama is sincere when he says he wants to find consensus across the political spectrum to address these problems. I will work in Congress to make sure this happens.

“I don’t agree with President-elect Obama on every issue, but like many Americans I was pleased with the hopeful and positive tone of his campaign. We should all pray for his, and more importantly America’s, success.”

— Rep. Travis Childers, D.-Miss., member of East Booneville Baptist Church:

“First, I hope and pray that our new president will continually seek the guidance and wisdom of the Providential Hand which I believe has always led this nation. If he does that, I think his administration can overcome many of the vast challenges that confront not only this nation, but the world.

“Secondly, I hope our new administration works to immediately tackle the pressing issues that all hard working families face today. We have to create more and better job opportunities, and we need to reduce the burden of a soaring deficit that has been placed on the shoulders of every American man, woman and child. Our national security is threatened by the huge amount of debt we owe to foreign countries like China, and we cannot continue in the direction we are headed. We must restore fiscal discipline to our government and work towards a balanced budget.

“To achieve all of this, it is important for our new administration and Congress to remember their shared purpose of uplifting hard working Americans and creating opportunity. I said I would work with the next administration no matter who won November’s election, and I intend to keep my word.”

— Rep. Lincoln Davis, D.-Tenn., member of Byrdstown First Baptist in Byrdstown, Tenn.:

“I am pleased President Obama has worked with the Bush Administration through the transition period and shown a willingness to appoint a cabinet with a centrist view of government. It’s my belief and hope he will bring both parties together and work in a bi-partisan manner so we can provide opportunities to those in dire need. People throughout Tennessee are losing their jobs and struggling with the high cost of energy and healthcare. The new administration needs to put forward an agenda addressing the needs of all Americans and begin tackling our infrastructure deficit. Furthermore, I hope President Obama is able to establish a position of trust and improve our standing with other nations and engage in a manner that would bring about peace in the Middle East and other parts of the world.”

— Rep. Heath Shuler, D.-N.C., member of Biltmore Baptist Church in Arden, N.C.:

“I am hopeful that the inauguration of President Barack Obama marks the beginning of a new era in American politics: an era that sees us move past the partisan bickering that has marred recent decades to a renewed sense of community, compromise and cooperation. I also pray that the next four years bring a genuine commitment to the protection of life at all its stages — from conception to natural death. We must all remember that we have a moral obligation to help one another, especially the least among us. I am hopeful that throughout the next four years we do just that.”

— Rep. Zach Wamp, R.-Tenn., member of Red Bank Baptist Church in Chattanooga.

“Barack Obama is breaking barriers and represents a long journey fulfilled as an African-American elected as President. I share in the joy that this historic inauguration says to every American, regardless of social status or color, that by working hard and preparing themselves, they could become the leader of the free world.

“The disparity between Obama’s approval ratings and those of the Democrat Congressional leadership creates many difficulties in moving his new agenda forward, and the public isn’t sure whether we are entering a period of unity or division. Obama has a tough road ahead and may have trouble building consensus.

“Of the proposed $825 billion economic stimulus package, $550 billion of it will pass through the House Appropriations Committee, where I serve, within 24 hours of President Obama taking his oath of office. The jury is out as to whether the country will unite behind his dramatic and expensive agenda.

“The Republican Party lost its credibility on spending and responsible government, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for the Democrats to make things even worse.”

Following is a complete list of Southern Baptists in the Senate and House. All of them can be contacted through the Capitol switchboard (202-224-3121).


Mississippi: Roger Wicker, Republican, First Baptist Church, Tupelo.

Oklahoma: Tom Coburn, Republican, New Community Church, Muskogee.

South Carolina: Lindsey Graham, Republican, Corinth Baptist Church, Seneca.


Alabama: Spencer Bachus, Republican, Hunter Street Baptist Church, Hoover. Bobby Bright, Democrat, member of First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala..

Arizona: Trent Franks, Republican, North Phoenix Baptist Church, Phoenix.

Arkansas: John Boozman, Republican, First Baptist Church, Rogers.

Florida: Vern Buchanan, Republican, First Baptist Church, Sarasota.

Georgia: Lynn Westmoreland, Republican, SouthCrest Church, Newman. Nathan Deal, Republican, First Baptist Church, Gainesville. Paul Broun, Republican, Prince Avenue Baptist Church, Bogart.

Kentucky: Harold Rogers, Republican, First Baptist Church, Somerset.

Louisiana: Rodney Alexander, Republican, Sweetwater Baptist Church, Quitman. John Fleming, Republican, First Baptist Church, Minden.

Mississippi: Travis Childers, Democrat, East Booneville Baptist Church.

Missouri: Sam Graves, Republican, First Baptist Church, Tarkio. Roy Blunt, Republican, First Baptist Church, Branson.

North Carolina: Heath Shuler, Democrat, Biltmore Baptist Church, Arden.

Oklahoma: Frank Lucas, Republican, First Baptist Church, Cheyenne.

South Carolina: Henry Brown, Republican, Cooper River Baptist Church, North Charleston. Gresham Barrett, Republican, Westminster Baptist Church, Westminster.

Tennessee: Zach Wamp, Republican, Red Bank Baptist Church, Chattanooga. Lincoln Davis, Democrat, Byrdstown First Baptist Church, Byrdstown.

Texas: Louie Gohmert, Republican, Green Acres Baptist Church, Tyler. Al Green, Democrat, Cullen Missionary Baptist Church, Houston. Mike Conaway, Republican, First Baptist Church, Midland. Randy Neugebauer, Republican, First Baptist Church, Lubbock.

Virginia: Randy Forbes, Republican, Great Bridge Baptist Church, Chesapeake.
Compiled by Michael Foust, assistant editor of Baptist Press, and Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.

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