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FIRST-PERSON: To the president

McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–Dear President Bush,

While I can only speak for myself, I am reasonably certain that I convey the sentiments of a number of religious conservatives when I say, please don’t take me for granted.

Given the closeness of the 2000 election, there are many observers who assert that you would not be occupying the White House if it were not for millions of religious conservatives just like me. However, with all due respect, lately I feel a bit like a young man who has escorted a girl to a dance only to find himself neglected while his date flirts with all the other gentlemen in the room.

For too long, religious conservatives have been content with being courted. We have been happy to simply be at the dance. Not wanting to be thought impolite, we have overlooked being neglected. We have sat smiling, saying nothing, all the while looking good for our date.

Please don’t think me ungrateful. I applaud your resolve in the war against terrorism. I also appreciate the tax relief and your attempts to appoint decent judges as well as the ban on partial-birth abortion. But you need to understand that of late there are a few things I have found troubling.

Mr. President, I have to tell you that I have a difficult time with your altering the status of illegal aliens. In spite of the politically correct attempt to change perception, they are not “undocumented workers” or “illegal immigrants” (now that is an oxymoron if I have ever heard one); they are “illegal.”

Your motives might well be noble. When introducing your “immigration” reform you conveyed that the bulk of illegal aliens are hard-working people who have come to America seeking a better life for their families. I can appreciate the desire to pursue a better life; however, there are legal ways to go about it.

If you quizzed inner-city drug dealers, they might say that all they are doing is trying to make a better life for their families. The white-collar employee who embezzles from his or her company could echo the same sentiment. However, we draw no distinction between the two. They are both breaking the law and as such are criminals.

Some experts believe your immigration reform not only will be costly, it could well leave America vulnerable to future terrorist attacks. At the very least it renders fuzzy what our society deems as illegal behavior, not to mention the message it sends to all those true immigrants who have gone through the proper procedure to be here legally.

Mr. President, you recently announced a proposal in which you plan to spend $1.5 billion in an effort to promote marriage. I will not argue with the fact that anything we can do to encourage people to marry and stay that way is a good thing. However, money alone is not the solution to all that ails marriage in the United States.

Marriage in America has been in decline for at least four decades. The reasons are too numerous to discuss here. However, the current state of matrimony resembles a boxer who has been pummeled to a pulp and is dazed and staggering. It appears that only one more blow is needed to send him crashing to the mat. That knockout punch is gay “marriage.” If it connects, matrimony in America is down for the count.

I appreciate your effort to promote marriage. However, it is not nearly enough. If you really want to support matrimony you will champion an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that defines marriage in no uncertain terms as exclusively between a man and a woman.

Mr. President, I understand you cannot please religious conservatives like me all of the time. However, there is a saying I grew up with: “You need to dance with who ‘brung’ you.” Considering religious conservatives helped bring you to the dance, please don’t take us, or our concerns, for granted.


Kelly Boggs
Kelly Boggs is pastor of Valley Baptist Church in McMinnville, Ore., and chairman of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Committee of the Northwest Baptist Convention. His column appears in Baptist Press each Friday.

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