In speech, Pence stresses role Bap­tists play in GOP pol­i­tics

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - REMEMBERING -

Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence gave an of­ten boast­ful cam­paign-style speech Wed­nes­day at the clos­ing ses­sion of the South­ern Bap­tist Con­ven­tion’s an­nual meet­ing, win­ning sev­eral stand­ing ova­tions even as some evan­gel­i­cals crit­i­cized his ap­pear­ance.

Pence re­peat­edly made clear that the SBC — the largest Protes­tant de­nom­i­na­tion in the U.S. — is viewed by him and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump as a vi­tal part of their con­ser­va­tive base head­ing into the midterm elec­tions. He called the SBC “one of the great­est forces for good any­where in Amer­ica.”

Pence de­voted much of his speech to tout­ing the Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion’s achieve­ments since tak­ing office.

He en­thused about Trump’s meet­ing this week with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and re­ceived a big ova­tion by men­tion­ing the re­lo­ca­tion of the U.S. Em­bassy in Is­rael from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — a long­stand­ing goal of many U.S. evan­gel­i­cals.

Pence drew more loud ap­plause when he de­clared Trump “the most pro-life pres­i­dent in Amer­i­can his­tory” and noted that he has ap­pointed many con­ser­va­tives to fed­eral judge­ships.

While most of the crowd of roughly 10,000 at the con­ven­tion in Dal­las seemed pleased with Pence’s speech, some au­di­ence mem­bers could be seen sit­ting with their arms folded dur­ing the ova­tions.

There was an at­tempt to dis­in­vite Pence as well as a pro­posal that the SBC adopt a pol­icy to avoid speeches by politi­cians at fu­ture an­nual meet­ings. But those pro­pos­als were de­feated or side­tracked.

The Rev. Wade Burleson, an out­spo­ken Bap­tist pas­tor from Enid, Okla., al­luded to those con­cerns in a tweet.

“The SBC is chang­ing,” Burleson said. “More than a few voiced their ob­jec­tions to politi­cians, even strong Chris­tians like Mike Pence, speak­ing to the SBC. It’s al­ways wise to keep the Gospel a pri­or­ity.”

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