George W. Bush photo

Satellite Remarks to the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting

June 13, 2007

Thank you all very much. Thanks for the warm welcome, Frank, and thanks for your kind introduction. I really appreciate you giving me a chance to speak to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, right there in my home State of Texas. I appreciate the fact that messengers from all over the Nation have gathered in San Antonio this week. You could have chosen a cooler time of the year to visit, but I'm sure you'll still experience our famous Texas hospitality.

I appreciate the fact that you're meeting to join in prayer and to seek a common direction for the ministry of Southern Baptist churches. I thank you for your Christian witness, I thank you for your defense of religious liberty, and I appreciate your many good works that make our Nation a stronger and more hopeful place. See, every day Southern Baptists are giving back to their communities and ministering to those in need. And you made our Nation stronger as a result.

You have contributed millions of dollars to fight world hunger and logged countless hours in disaster relief and rebuilding. You've provided training to lift people out of poverty and dependency, and you've spread the Gospel. You've loved your neighbors as yourselves. In other words, you've made a great contribution to our country, and I appreciate that.

I also appreciate the fact that Southern Baptists are supporting our brave men and women in uniform and their families. I know you pray for their safety as they defend our people and extend the hope of freedom to the oppressed across the globe. I appreciate the fact you've sent care packages and tend to the spiritual needs as military chaplains or kneel in prayer. I thank you as you support those who volunteer to serve our Nation.

Just like our troops, you have the gratitude of the Commander in Chief as we do the hard work necessary to defend our country and, at the same time, lay the foundation of peace.

I appreciate the fact that Southern Baptists understand the importance of fair-minded and impartial judges to our democracy. I was proud to nominate John Roberts and Sam Alito to the Supreme Court. And I will continue to nominate good judges who will interpret the law and not legislate from the bench.

Southern Baptists have committed to building a culture of life, and my administration shares that great goal. Since taking office, I've signed the Born Alive Infants Protection Act and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, also known as Lacy and Connor's Law. I've refused to fund programs overseas that promote or perform abortions. I used my first veto on a bill that would have compelled American taxpayers to support the deliberate destruction of human embryos. And I will veto any bill Congress sends me that violates the sanctity of human life.

I worked with Congress to pass the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, and since I spoke to you last year, the Supreme Court upheld this vital law.

I believe building a culture of life in our country also means promoting adoption and teaching teen abstinence, funding crisis pregnancy programs, and supporting the work of faith-based groups. In defending the lives of the weakest and the most vulnerable members of our society, we reflect the compassion and humanity of America. And we will continue to work toward the day when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law.

I thank the Southern Baptists who are working to promote a culture of life abroad by helping lead the fight against malaria and HIV/AIDS. Southern Baptists run hospitals and provide medical care to many suffering from malaria and HIV/AIDS across Africa. In Uganda, Southern Baptists sponsor an abstinence program called True Love Waits. And thanks to efforts like yours, Uganda has made progress against HIV/AIDS. And now you're building on the success by expanding this important program to six more countries in Africa.

My administration shares your sense of urgency in the fight against these terrible diseases. And that's why we created a $1.2 billion malaria initiative to provide protection to people in some of the most heavily affected countries in Africa. So far, we have helped more than 10 million Africans, and we expect to reach a total of 30 million people by the end of 2007.

We're also combating the spread of HIV/ AIDS. In 2003, my administration launched a $15 billion Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. And thanks to the generosity of the American people and support in Congress, we have supported lifesaving treatment for 1.1 million people infected with HIV in some of the poorest nations on Earth.

This program makes a huge difference in saving lives. And so last month, I asked Congress to double our initial commitment and provide an additional $30 billion for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care over the next 5 years. And the reason why is, is because I firmly believe, like Southern Baptists believe who are working to raise awareness about the suffering that takes place in the world, that to whom much is given, much is required. And by dealing with disease, infectious diseases, we can make the world a better place, and that helps us here at home.

I also believe it helps lift our soul and lifts our spirits when we help those who suffer among us. And that's why I strongly support what you're doing and helping to do in the Darfur region of Sudan. I appreciate the fact that my friend, Richard Land, is working tirelessly to help those suffering in that troubled nation.

For too long, the people of Darfur have suffered at the hands of a government that is complicit in the bombing, rape, and murder of innocent civilians. The world has a responsibility to end this genocide and to hold accountable those perpetuating the violence. And America has taken the lead. So 2 weeks ago, I announced new actions to address this persecution. The Department of Treasury is tightening existing economic sanctions against Sudan, and we're imposing additional ones. Secretary Rice is working with our allies to draft a new U.N. Security Council resolution that will seek to impose new sanctions, expand an arms embargo, and prohibit Sudan's Government from conducting offensive military flights over Darfur.

The people of Darfur are crying out for our help, and the Southern Baptists and the United States will not turn away because we believe that what matters overseas matters here at home.

God has blessed our Nation with prosperity and great abundance. And I firmly believe, like you, that we should use our resources to help those that need here at home, and help those who need abroad.

And this is a central part of the work of the Southern Baptist Convention. You're rising to meet the challenges of broken souls in a broken world with compassion and courage. You're living out the call to spread the Gospel and proclaim the Kingdom of God. And I thank you for your leadership, and I thank you for the prayers that you offer to Laura and me. And I thank you for your strong voice in the public square.

May God bless you, and may God bless America. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke by satellite at 11:43 a.m. from the Map Room at the White House to the convention meeting in San Antonio, TX. In his remarks, he referred to Frank S. Page, president, Southern Baptist Convention; and Richard Land, president, Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

George W. Bush, Satellite Remarks to the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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