By Aaron Weaver
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter has joined a diverse group of more than 100 Christian leaders calling on United States presidential candidates in the upcoming 2016 election to appear on camera in a video stating how they propose to provide help and opportunity to hungry and poor people in the United States and abroad.
“There is broad consensus among faith leaders that our country has been culpably neglectful of poverty, especially in our own country. 100 Christian leaders of all stripes are urging all the candidates to explain, on camera, what they would do to provide help and opportunity to hungry and poor people in our country and around the world,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president o Bread for the World, a CBF partner.
In addition to Paynter, Baptist signatories to the letter include: Carroll A. Baltimore, S.r, president/CEO of Global Alliance Interfaith Networks; Tony Campolo, founder of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education; Robert Duffett, president of Eastern University; David Emmanuel Goatley, executive secretary-treasurer of the Lott Carey Convention; Kevin Hagan, president and CEO of Feed the Children; Virginia Holmstrom, executive director of American Baptist Women’s Ministries of American Baptist Churches USA; Randall O’Brien, president of Carson-Newman University; Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics and Julius Scruggs, president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
Other signatories include Leith Anderson, president, National Association of Evangelicals; Richard Hays, dean, Duke University Divinity School; Joel Hunter, senior pastor, Northland: A Church Distributed; Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop, The Episcopal Church; Mark Labberton, president, Fuller Theological Seminary; Samuel Rodriguez, president, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Larry Snyder, president, Catholic Charities USA; Richard Stearns, president, World Vision USA; and Jim Wallis, president and founder, Sojourners.
The letter is printed in full below:
Thank you for your willingness to stand for election to the office of president of the United States. The calling to public service is a sacred vocation. We hold you, and all of the candidates for nomination and election, in our prayers.
As national leaders from all the major branches of Christianity, we care deeply about many issues facing our country, but ending hunger and poverty is a top priority of our work together. We are praying for a president who will make ending hunger and poverty a top priority of his or her administration. Are you that leader?
We are making a simple request of each candidate and will publicly pursue your positive response:
Please produce a three minute video telling the American people what you would do as president to offer help and opportunity to hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world.
It is our intention to distribute candidates’ videos broadly among our churches and to the public, as we did with similar videos produced by Governor Romney and President Obama in 2012. The Circle of Protection will not publicly evaluate your policy positions or endorse any candidate. Our goal is simply to make ending hunger and poverty part of our nation’s election year dialog.
God told Samuel, as he was choosing a national leader from among Jesse’s offspring, to look at their hearts (I Samuel 16). We will be calling on people of faith to examine presidential candidates to see if they have a heart for poor and hungry people. We want to know how each candidate proposes to fulfil the mandate to those who govern to “give deliverance to the needy” (Psalm 72).
Your campaign may discuss this invitation with the Rev. Gary Cook by contacting him at firstname.lastname@example.org. We ask that you reply within two months from the date you declare your candidacy.
Thank you again for your public service. May God bless and guide you in the months ahead.