Lynn Madden, music director at Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, the home church of President Bill Clinton, has nothing but praise for the musical abilities of his notable choir member and saxophonist. But other Southern Baptist leaders say Clinton is out of tune with them in dealing with a number of important social issues.

While congratulating him on his election victory, many Baptist leaders are quick to point out their disagreements and call for a change of heart in the former Arkansas governor.

Conservatives object

One week after Clinton’s victory at the polls, Richard Land, executive director of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Christian Life Commission (CLC), sent an open letter to the then Presidentelect. In it, Land promised the prayers of fellow Southern Baptists that God would bless Clinton with safety, health, and spiritual blessings. “We will both pray for you and exhort you to apply biblical principles and values as you make policy decisions.”

Land voiced support for the new administration’s backing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and required health warnings on alcohol advertising. He praised the efforts of Tipper Gore, wife of Vice-president Al Gore, to warn consumers about the lyrics of some rock songs, and the support Hillary Clinton has offered to a recent antipornography campaign. But he went on to urge the President to reconsider his stated positions on abortion, homosexual rights, and public funding of art considered by some as blasphemous or obscene.

That letter apparently set the tone for resolutions from a dozen state Baptist conventions, including those in Arkansas and Gore’s home state of Tennessee, which echoed Land’s two-track message of prayer and policy.

Arkansas ...

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