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Inauguration Day’s importance underscored by SBC leaders

WASHINGTON (BP)–Inauguration Day in the United States draws the attention of citizens of America and the world as a display of tradition and proof that freedom and democracy are goals worthy of their cost.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said the inauguration is a time when an orderly assignment of authority is modeled for the world.

“All Americans of whatever political stripe pause to give thanks for the fact that America is a land that accomplishes peaceful transfer of power and in which the citizens peacefully accept election results,” Land said in a statement to Baptist Press. “If they lose, Americans resolve to make a better case and be victorious the next time.

“This should be a moment of supreme unity when we reaffirm that after the electoral process — whether we voted for him or not, whether we support him or not — whoever is elected is our president, and we give due respect to the office of the presidency,” Land said.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, emphasized the necessary dignity of the inauguration in keeping with its history beginning with the nation’s first president.

“The inaugural ceremony is part of America’s national heritage and is an essential part of our public pageant of democracy. The president’s taking of a public pledge — standing symbolically before the nation and then delivering an inaugural address — is more than mere custom. Presidential inaugurations are significant milestones in our national history, significant in terms of both meaning and memory,” Mohler said in a commentary on Crosswalk.com.

The presidential inauguration mirrors the coronation of a king and once served to elevate America’s leader to the level of the hereditary rulers of Europe.

“America is no longer a young nation seeking to be recognized by the world as one among equals,” Mohler said. “Now, America stands preeminent in the world, and America’s president is the most significant leader on the world stage.

“Americans of all political parties should celebrate this day as a testimonial to our constitutional system — the pageant of democracy displayed before a watching world,” he said.

And for those who are Christians, this particular inauguration day holds additional significance, said Robert E. (Bob) Reccord, president of the North American Mission Board. Inauguration Day, he said, is a time to celebrate how God has blessed the nation and how He has shown His grace over the years.

“I am grateful for a president who makes His faith such a high priority in daily life and isn’t afraid to say he depends on God for leadership,” Reccord said in a statement. “At the same time, I am reminded of Thomas Jefferson’s caution that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. As people of faith, we must always be vigilant as well. We don’t have the luxury of only being concerned about the issues every four years when it’s time to vote on a president.”

Exhorting Christians to let their voices be heard on every level of government even after a president who shares their values is securely in place for another term, Reccord said the war for the culture is not over.

“The battles rage and the believing segment of our land must continue to step up and be counted as we battle for the soul of our nation … and our next generation,” he said.

Land also expressed thanks for a president who shares the values that are of utmost importance to believers and said George W. Bush is following in the footsteps of many honorable commanders in chief who looked to One greater than themselves.

“As a Christian American, I am delighted and grateful that we have a president who makes faith such an integral part of his life,” Land said. “The president has been, and will continue to be, a strong defender of human freedom, including religious freedom, both here and around the world. In proclaiming America’s commitment to freedom and her willingness to encourage and support those who long for that God-given freedom around the world, he is standing in the best of American presidential tradition.”
Complied by Erin Curry with reporting by Tom Strode & Martin King.

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