By Bob Allen
An Alabama pastor is standing by a letter to the editor in his Baptist state newspaper criticizing Southern Baptist Convention leaders for what he says is coddling Syrian refugees.
SBC leaders rushed to Twitter to condemn a letter in the Alabama Baptist by Ted Sessoms, pastor of Arbor Springs Baptist Church in Northport, Ala., suggesting denomination officials should consider Old Testament passages where God gave instructions to destroy entire populations, including women, children and animals.
“Why would He give such instructions?” Sessoms asked. “Because He knew the impact these idol worshippers of false gods would have on His people. It is not a matter of loving your neighbor. My neighbors are the people that value the same standards of life and way of life that I value.”
Florida pastor Dean Inserra, member of an advisory council to the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, called the letter “garbage” and wondered why the Baptist newspaper would even publish it.
Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., called it “an embarrassment to the gospel and the one who told us to love our neighbor and our enemies.”
Sessoms told CBS-affiliated WIAT-42 in Birmingham, Ala., he wrote the letter to the Baptist newspaper to express his frustration with Baptist leaders who have advocated for allowing refugees to enter the country.
“In this country we are under attack by terrorists and we don’t know who those folks are,” Sessoms said. “And so by allowing these refugees to come in and not know their background. But we certainly know their past is to hate Americans and hate Christianity.”
He told another TV station he spoke publicly about his views before writing the letter and is prepared for backlash against his position.
A couple of posts on the Arbor Springs Baptist Church Facebook page gave the pastor a thumbs-up.
“Just read your letter to editor in AlBaptist. Great. Say it again and again,” wrote one commenter.
“Your church members should be very proud to have a man such as you as Pastor,” added another. “I don’t know what the people of AB are thinking. THANKS again so much for writing what a lot of us are thinking.”
Sessoms’ entire letter reads:
“At the risk of being an outcast or considered a narrow-minded bigot, I must express my disagreement and disappointment with our Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) leaders in regards to the Syrian refugee crisis. I am against allowing the refugees the rights to America’s soil and my neighborhood. These are the same people that hate America, hate Christians and have vowed to take over the world by destroying our way of life. Perhaps our leaders should study the Old Testament when God gave specific instructions to destroy these people (even their women, children and animals). Why would He give such instructions? Because He knew the impact these idol worshippers of false gods would have on His people. It is not a matter of loving your neighbor. My neighbors are the people that value the same standards of life and way of life that I value.
“We owe it to our children and grandchildren to make good decisions for their future in America. And opening up our country to tens of thousands of refugees with their unknown background but known hatred for Christianity and America will destroy any future our children may have.
“These are the same people that are willing to give their lives to carry out their commitment to Allah. They don’t have to be considered terrorists to hate Christians. Their religious conviction causes them that hatred.
“What we will see is not more SBC churches being established but more mosques. What we will see is their way and their customs being forced on us to either observe or make way for us to give up our rights to observe their rights. They are victims of a more powerful force of Muslims within their own country but they are not victims when it comes to their lifelong hatred of us and our belief in Christ. It makes no sense to say to them, ‘I know you hate us and I know you want to destroy our country and way of life, and I know you will eventually find a way to kill us, but come on in anyways and live among us until you gain the strength and power to overcome us.’ Has the SBC been turned over to a reprobate mind?”