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Land: Haiti govt’s behavior ‘outrageous’

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land added his voice Friday to those calling for the release of 10 Baptist volunteers in Haiti, and in a letter to President Obama called the Haitian government’s behavior “outrageous” and asked that the president “do everything in your considerable power to secure the release of these United States citizens.”

“The Haitian government is receiving massive assistance from the United States, from both public and private sources,” Land the president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, wrote to Obama. “Our nation’s churches are giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to relief efforts for the people of Haiti. These fine Christian men and women sought to do even more to help alleviate the suffering of some Haitian children. For the Haitian government to respond in this way to the obvious good intentions of these honorable Christians is outrageous.

“We ask that you do everything in your considerable power to secure the release of these United States citizens. Please know that we are available in any way you might deem appropriate to assist in the immediate release of these men and women and their safe return to the United States.”

The full text of the letter follows:

“Dear Mr. President:

“Yesterday, the Haitian government decided to charge 10 United States citizens with kidnapping and criminal association for attempting to take 33 Haitian children out of that devastated country to a place of safety and care. We are deeply dismayed and offended by this decision.

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“We are proud to be citizens of one of the most generous nations on the face of the earth. It is this very generous spirit that landed these loving Christians in their situation. These men and women may have been operating from a lack of knowledge about the appropriate process for their humanitarian efforts, but we are confident that their intentions were not nefarious.

“The Haitian government is receiving massive assistance from the United States, from both public and private sources. Our nation’s churches are giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to relief efforts for the people of Haiti. These fine Christian men and women sought to do even more to help alleviate the suffering of some Haitian children. For the Haitian government to respond in this way to the obvious good intentions of these honorable Christians is outrageous.

“We ask that you do everything in your considerable power to secure the release of these United States citizens. Please know that we are available in any way you might deem appropriate to assist in the immediate release of these men and women and their safe return to the United States.

“Thank you for your efforts on behalf of our fellow citizens.

“Sincerely,

“Richard D. Land

“cc: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”
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Compiled by Michael Foust, an assistant editor of Baptist Press