WASHINGTON (ABP) – Several Southern Baptists joined a coalition of Christian leaders claiming to represent 25 million Americans sending letters to President Obama and foreign ambassadors and heads of state opposing efforts by Iran to get the United Nations to recognize Palestinian statehood.
Christian Leaders for a Nuclear-Free Iran, an ad hoc coalition of conservative evangelical and Catholic leaders formed to call on policy makers to take action to ensure that Iran does not obtain nuclear arms, warned of an “end-run” by Iranian-backed Palestinians around direct negotiations with Israel aimed at persuading the U.N. to “preemptively declare Palestinian statehood.”
“This will only embolden extremists and make lasting peace less likely,” the letters warned.
The religious leaders voiced grave concern about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and support for terrorist proxies including Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
“While continuing to develop nuclear weapons, support terrorism and repress its own people, the Iranians are also backing the brutal suppression of pro-democracy forces in Syria and backing a unilateral declaration of independence of Palestine at the United Nations as a way to sabotage real negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians,” they said.
They urged foreign leaders to work with U.S. allies to isolate Iran and persuade the Palestinians to reject terrorism, respect previous agreements and recognize Israel’s right to exist.
“We know America will stand with us at the United Nations this September — but we cannot be alone,” they told U.S. officials. “Thus, as American Christian leaders we urge you to uphold these principles and to reach out to America’s friends.”
Signers included Richard Land and Barrett Duke of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and former SBC presidents James Merritt and Jack Graham. Other signers included John Hagee, Paul Crouch and James Robison. Well-known Baptists adding their signatures included Richard Lee, president of There’s Hope America; Jay Dennis, pastor of First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Fla.; and Bob Reccord, former president of the North American Mission Board.
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.