Following President Obama’s farewell address Jan. 11 in Chicago, Southern Baptists who have met with him personally reflected on his “liberal” social policies, apparent commitment to family, and status as America’s first black president.
A member of Obama’s Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships from 2009-10, SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page told Baptist Press, “I have interacted with [Obama] personally and find him to be greatly engaging and gregarious.
“I’ve also deeply disagreed with him on a number of social and moral issues and believe that our country is deeply divided because of his intractable adherence to an extremely liberal agenda,” Page said.
Obama’s farewell speech outlined four “challenges to our democracy” and touched on social issues that have divided him at times from social conservatives. The nearly hour-long speech referenced lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights on four occasions, at one point classifying “LGBT rights” among “big global fights” from which “we cannot withdraw.”
Richard Land, who retired in 2013 after 25 years as head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and its predecessor organization the Christian Life Commission, told BP he met with Obama twice.
“In a country where there is increasing family dislocation,” Land said, it has been “important that [Obama] has given every indication of being a devoted husband and father.” He added that electing an African American president “says something really important and really good about our country.”
However, Land said he is “disappointed” Obama “has not used the occasion of being the first African American president to bring about greater racial reconciliation.”
Regarding foreign policy, Land said he disagrees with Obama’s response to situations in Iran, Iraq, and Syria among other global hotspots. And domestically, the president’s Affordable Care Act, pro-abortion policies, “radically liberal” Supreme Court nominees and “championing” of the pro-gay agenda drew criticism from Land.
Barrett Duke, a former ERLC vice president for public policy and research who met with Obama at least twice, told BP he is “glad” for “the opportunity to meet and work with our nation’s first African American president.”
“While we knew we disagreed on many substantive matters, President Obama was very gracious and respectful toward me,” Duke said in written comments. “He is a man of deep, personal convictions, and he stood by his convictions. However, I found him to be very thoughtful and open to counsel on matters of common interest.”
Obama leaves office Jan. 20.