SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) — Southern Baptist leaders are imploring President Obama to act against ISIS not only for global security, but to enable themselves to give a proper account before the Lord on Judgment Day, Southern Baptist President Ronnie Floyd said (March 4) on CNN.
“We need to understand that each one of us, we believe, as Christians and followers of Christ who believe in God’s Word, will one day stand in front of God Himself. And we will give an account of ourselves before God,” Floyd said on the Carol Costello show. “And I along with these other [SBC] presidents do not want to say that we were silent, but we had simply the heartbeat and the goal to say, ‘Mr. President, we’re behind you. Let’s go and do whatever is necessary to bring an end to this crisis globally.'”
Floyd spoke on the show after he and 16 former SBC presidents from as early as 1980 signed a March 1 letter “humbly” urging President Obama “to take the necessary actions now in this urgent hour” to end the human atrocities the terrorists have committed, including the “abuse, brutalization, and murder of children, women, and men.”
Southern Baptist leaders are not telling Obama how to fight the terrorists, Floyd said, but are respectfully urging Obama to act within his power to get the job done, whether by diplomacy, economic sanctions or war.
“Our decision is not the how. That’s the role of the president and the leaders of our country. He can use diplomacy; he can use economic sanctions; and if need be, he can use war,” Floyd said on the broadcast. “The president is empowered by the people and empowered by the powers that be in this nation to bring action. And we need to do everything we can to always preserve nationally and globally, for every person in the world, to have the freedom to believe. And that freedom is being violated and ending up in many, many people losing their lives. And we just do not believe that’s right.
“We are really convinced in this urgent hour, Carol, that we are simply humbly requesting of the President of the United States to take strong, clear, firm leadership in relationship to doing everything he can do in today’s world to put an end to the crisis of ISIS.”
ISIS, thought to have grown out of al-Qaeda in Iraq, has worked since April 2013 to establish an Islamic emirate in Syria and Iraq. They also claim to have fighters from the United Kingdom, France, Germany and other European countries, the Arab world and the Caucasus. And they have worked to recruit fighters and teenage girls from the U.S., according to news reports.
“ISIS is still growing, obviously there are people joining the movement, according to news accounts, and obviously people are still being brutalized and murdered across the world, which we believe that due to the tragedy of this, that these human atrocities must come to an end,” Floyd said, “and whatever role the president would so choose to do that, it is our heart and our goal is to support him and say, ‘Mr. President, we’re behind you. Take the needed action to do what needs to be done to bring an end to this global crisis.'”
Among its latest attacks, ISIS beheaded 21 Egyptians — reportedly Coptic Christians, killed an American aid worker, and burned alive a Jordanian pilot. ISIS captured more than 200 Assyrian Christians in a Feb. 23 attack on villages near Tal Tamer in northern Syria, CNN reported. Women, children and the elderly were among those taken captive, according to the report. About 20 of the Christian hostages have been released, according to media reports, but the rest remain captive.
The government has the power to award those who do good and punish those who commit evil, Floyd said.
“The purpose of the government is to award those who do good in living right and good. And the purpose of government as well — according to Scripture — would be to punish those who are doing evil,” Floyd said. “I mean even the United Nations believes that every person in the world has the freedom to believe and that in and of itself is a human right, and that human right is being violated right now, not simply behind the scenes, but it’s being violated for all of the world to see.”
The letter Floyd referenced during the interview was signed by former SBC presidents Bailey E. Smith, 1980–1982; James T. Draper Jr., 1982-1984; Charles F. Stanley, 1984–1986; Jerry Vines, 1988–1990; Morris H. Chapman, 1990-1992; H. Edwin Young Sr., 1992–1994; James B. Henry, 1994–1996; Tom Elliff, 1996-1998; Paige Patterson, 1998-2000; James Merritt, 2000–2002; Jack Graham, 2002–2004; Bobby Welch, 2004–2006; Frank S. Page, 2006–2008; Johnny M. Hunt, 2008-2010; Bryant Wright, 2010-2012, and Fred Luter, 2012-2014.
Floyd appeared on CNN by video from his office at Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, where he is pastor.
He called the letter an unprecedented action among SBC leaders that “shows right there the urgency of this moment in the minds of our former religious leaders and our current president today, which is me.”
Floyd also posted the letter on his SBC page  March 2, where it has been viewed more than 19,000 times.