SBC 2006 – Rice builds rapport with Baptists, stresses America’s role in future world stability

GREENSBORO, N.C.–Using her upbringing as the daughter of a Presbyterian pastor as a rapport builder, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice praised Southern Baptists for their good works at home and abroad and argued that America is a crucial moral leader in battling global injustice.

Like the children of many faithful, Southern church-goers, Rice told messengers she grew up in church. “I’m not speaking metaphorically,” said Rice of her youth in Birmingham, Ala.

A pro-choice Republican, Rice was welcomed warmly in the convention hall, with presiding SBC President Bobby Welch introducing her as a sister in Christ. Rice said she is often asked about her faith. She told messengers she prays daily to find “solace” and strength.

“In towns and villages across Africa,” Southern Baptists are digging water wells. They did the same in Banda Aceh and other areas hit by last year’s tsunami, Rice said, adding, “Few have done more than Southern Baptists…. No man, no woman, no child is beyond the reach of your compassion.”

Stressing America’s global influence, Rice told messengers the United States must remain engaged as a leader beyond its borders. Americans are blessed to be able to own property, “freedom to think as we please and worship as we wish. … Not as masters of others but as servants of freedom,” Rice said to loud applause.

Rice said the question for future Americans would be whether or not America continues to engage injustice abroad or withdraw. “If America does not rally support [for international injustice], who will?” Rice asked to a standing ovation.

President Bush, she said, is committed to expanding religious liberty in the world, making reference to the faith of Chinese Christians who worship despite intense government pressure on the nation’s Christian population. She said the president grants favor to nations that pursue and enact religious liberty.

“Religious freedom is an issue that demands moral clarity?. Government has no right to stand between the individual and the Almighty,” she said.

Noting that slavery did not end in the 19th century, Rice praised Bush for launching a “new abolitionist movement” against human trafficking.

“As long as America has anything to say about it, slavery will have no place in the modern world.”

Rice said the Bush administration also is working to achieve peace in Darfur, Sudan, and is fighting AIDS in Africa with programs aimed at prevention.

“For the sake of peace, for the sake of justice, for the sake of human dignity, we will help the people of Darfur,” Rice insisted.

Among the roles the United States plays in the world, Rice said its primary role is ensuring the survival of democracy and winning the global war on terror. “When possible, we are bringing terrorists to justice, and when necessary, we are bringing justice to the terrorists,” she said.

Rice said to the applause of messengers that the recent death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, is a positive step in the war on terror. “He will never harm, he will never murder and he will never terrorize innocent people again.”

Twice Rice mentioned the service and sacrifice of the nation’s armed services who have assisted in the liberation of 55 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq. She said the sacrifice of these individuals proves the goal of democracy in the Middle East worthwhile.

In closing, Rice said she was inspired by a letter she received from a Southern Baptist, Jeff England of Centreville Va., stating that his congregation was praying for her.

She told Southern Baptists, “Thank you for your prayers on behalf of me and the president and others during these challenging days.”


TEXAN Correspondent
Jerry Pierce
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