This is an open letter from CBF Executive Coordinator Daniel Vestal to President Barack Obama. It has been mailed to the White House and distributed through CBF channels.
President Barack Obama
The White House
On behalf of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship let me express congratulations on your inauguration as our 44th President. We promise our prayers for you, your family and your administration during this crucial time in our nation’s history. Let me also express some heartfelt requests.
Please help us create a cultural ethos that transcends our religious and regional division. In yesterday’s edition of “USA Today” Os Guinness called for “a restoration of a civil and cosmopolitan public square.” Many of us believe it is possible to engage one another in serious conversation, even disagreement, without demonizing one another in rancor. You already model such a spirit, and we are grateful. The religious and cultural differences in our society need not be the cause of bitter division. We pledge to do our part, but we need your strong leadership and continued example.
Please help us take bold steps to make life better for the poor and powerless. As a participating member of Christian Churches Together in the U.S. we affirm the opening sentence of its statement on poverty adopted last week. “As Christian leaders in the wealthiest society on earth, we are called by God to urge our churches and nation to strengthen and expand efforts to address the scandal of widespread poverty in the U.S. and around the world.” You have already made clear that the challenges facing our nation will not be met easily or quickly. But we ask of you to ask of us to serve and sacrifice so that “the least of these” among us may have equality and opportunity.
Please help us realize the fulfillment of Martin Luther King’s dream for America as “a beloved community.” We realize that government can only do so much to bridge the divides among us and eliminate the disparity between us, but we ask for leadership that forges creative partnerships between government and all institutions in our nation to work for the common good and not just for the special interests of some. We ask for policies that are fair and compassionate, laws that are just and government officials who fulfill their duties with competence and integrity. We ask for accountability and honesty in your administration. We ask for you to tell us the truth, even when it’s not politically expedient.
Mr. President, thank you for accepting the mantle of national leadership. Many of us believe that as a country we are living in a time of great peril as well as a time of great opportunity. Many of us also believe that as a country we have become intoxicated with greed and addicted to fear. So we offer to God a prayer written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous:
God, give us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed;
Give us the courage to change what should be changed;
Give us the wisdom to distinguish one from the other.
Executive Coordinator Cooperative Baptist Fellowship