Dear American Baptists,
Greetings in this New Year as I enter my 14th and final year as General Secretary.
When I began serving in this position, I never imagined how large a role ABC would be called to play in the defense and promotion of religious liberty. Through world circumstances, it has become a major role for me as I voice our concerns for the right of conscience in faith.
While in India just before Christmas, Christians were voicing to me their concerns for the increasing attacks by radical Hindus against Christians and Muslims. Even in the brief two weeks I was there, a church was burned in Delhi and there were reports in the news of an attack upon Banjara Baptists for singing Christmas carols.
Such attacks are in part fomented by hate-speech by politicians at regional and local levels aligned with the radical Hindu party BJP.
As President Obama prepares to travel to India at the invitation of Prime Minister Narenda Modi who is a BJP party member, I have sent to him a letter expressing our concerns urging him to press the Prime Minister to speak against such violence and to voice his opposition to legislative initiatives that negatively impact the civil liberties of non-Hindus in India.
Religious liberty is at risk in many places in the world. From Thomas Helwys’ plea to King James I in the 17th century, Baptists have long contended no entity has the right to interfere with one’s choice in faith since each of us alone is ultimately accountable for such choices. Protection of that liberty is our sacred duty.