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SBC president prays for U.S. president

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (BP)–Noting Christians are commanded by the Bible to pray for those in authority, Southern Baptist Convention President Tom Elliff said he prays for President Clinton daily.
Although that may shock many people who oppose Bill Clinton, Elliff said Christians are commanded to pray for the president and other leaders.
“God is far more concerned than any of us about the character of our leaders,” Elliff was quoted in an article in The Huntsville Times newspaper. His remarks came Jan. 26 during the Alabama Baptist State Evangelism Conference in Huntsville.
“He (God) knows more truths than we will ever know,” Elliff told the conference. “Sin is a reproach to God, but righteousness exalts a nation.”
Elliff did not speak directly to the allegations plaguing the president but did caution Christians to be familiar with and aware of those they elect to office.
“I believe every citizen has a right to expect good character on the part of all our leaders,” Elliff was quoted as saying.
“I believe our president in the last several years has seemingly distanced himself from the SBC,” Elliff said. SBC leaders and the convention itself in annual meeting have publicly declared their opposition to partial-birth abortions. A ban passed by Congress has twice been vetoed by Clinton.
Elliff said if the president should confess to a sexual affair but ask for forgiveness, he should be forgiven. However, Elliff said, that doesn’t mean he should escape punishment for his wrongdoings.
He cited a misconception about forgiveness in that “we must accord all the rights and privileges the person had before. (However,) Moses was forgiven when he struck the rock the second time, but he wasn’t allowed to enter the promised land.”
The United States is on a moral slide downward, Elliff told the conference, and is in “big trouble.”
“We need a great spiritual awakening in the country. Our only hope is not with the White House, but with the church house.”
Elliff is in the second of two one-year terms as president of the SBC. He is pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, Okla.