A group of 48 evangelical leaders, the vast majority of them Southern Baptists, has sent a letter to President-elect Donald Trump in support of Scott Pruitt, Trump's choice to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Among the signatories are 12 former Southern Baptist Convention presidents; current SBC President Steve Gaines; 14 current and former SBC entity heads, including all six current SBC seminary presidents; and 17 state Baptist convention executive directors, including Florida's Tommy Green.
Pruitt, Oklahoma's attorney general, is a deacon at First Baptist Church in Broken Arrow, Okla., and a trustee at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His selection by Trump was announced Dec. 7.
The letter was released Dec. 16 amid opposition to Pruitt's nomination by some environmentalists and theologically liberal clergy who have criticized Pruitt for allegedly denying the science of climate change.
The letter calls Pruitt "well qualified to lead the Environmental Protection Agency" and deserving of "the full support of the United States Senate in his confirmation."
"We do not deny the existence of climate change nor the urgency of this concern," the letter states. "We affirm an ongoing debate on the proper balance between the unleashing of human enterprise and the protection of creation. ... We believe that Attorney General Pruitt has been misrepresented as denying 'settled science,' when he has actually called for a continuing debate."
The full letter and list of signatories is available below.
December 16, 2016
Dear President-Elect Trump:
We write in support of your nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. We are evangelical Christians who are committed to a proper stewardship of all creation, driven by our knowledge that "the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof." (Psalm 24:1)
We believe that every human being is called to this stewardship, and we believe that our Christian responsibility is to bear witness to the truth that God created the cosmos for His own glory and that He created human beings in His own image, bearing responsibility to advance human flourishing through many forms of human activity, from agriculture and enterprise to technology and innovation.
Every realm of human activity comes with the responsibility to be good stewards of all that is entrusted to us—and so much has been entrusted. We are thankful for the progress made in respecting creation, advancing a proper environmentalism, and affirming this stewardship. We pray for every nation to enjoy clean air, clean water, and all things that lead to the flourishing of creation.
At the same time, we reject any ideology that sees human beings as a blight upon the planet and would harm human flourishing by restricting or preventing the rightful use and enjoyment of creation.
A very great stewardship is invested in the Environmental Protection Agency, and thus in its Administrator. We support the nomination of Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
We do not deny the existence of climate change nor the urgency of this concern. We affirm an ongoing debate on the proper balance between the unleashing of human enterprise and the protection of creation. We call for justice, righteousness, and compassion in every dimension of our national life, including our government. We believe that Attorney General Pruitt has been misrepresented as denying "settled science," when he has actually called for a continuing debate. This is in the very best tradition of science.
We believe that the Hon. Scott Pruitt is well qualified to lead the Environmental Protection Agency and that he deserves the full support of the United States Senate in his confirmation. May God bless you as our new President, even as the day of your inauguration fast approaches. We pledge to pray faithfully for you and your Administration, and our cherished nation.
Danny Akin, President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Jason K. Allen, President, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Brian Autry, Executive Director, Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia
Denny Burk, President, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Morris Chapman, Former President of the Southern Baptist Convention, Former President & CEO, Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention
Paul Chitwood, Executive Director-Treasurer, Kentucky Baptist Convention
Randy Davis, Executive Director, Tennessee Baptist Convention
Jimmy Draper, Former President of the Southern Baptist Convention
Tom Elliff, Former President of the Southern Baptist Convention
Leo Endel, Executive Director, Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention
Ronnie Floyd, Senior Pastor, Cross Church, Northwest Arkansas, Former President of the Southern Baptist Convention
Jim Futral, Executive Director-Treasurer, Mississippi Baptist Convention
Steve Gaines, President, Southern Baptist Convention, Pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, Tenn.
Jack Graham, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas, Former President of the Southern
Tommy Green, Executive Director-Treasurer, Florida Baptist Convention
David Hankins, Executive Director, Louisiana Baptist Convention
O.S. Hawkins, President & CEO, Guidestone Financial Resources
William D. Henard, Executive Director-Treasurer, West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists
Jim Henry, Senior Pastor, Downtown Baptist Church, Orlando, Fla., Former President of the Southern Baptist Convention
Milton Hollifield, Executive Director-Treasurer, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina
Gary Hollingsworth, Executive Director-Treasurer, South Carolina Baptist Convention
Johnny Hunt, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church Woodstock, Ga., Former President of the Southern Baptist Convention
Jeff Iorg, President, Gateway Baptist Theological Seminary
Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO, National Religious Broadcasters
Anthony Jordan, Executive Director-Treasurer, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma
Chuck Kelley, President, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
Jack Kwok, Executive Director-Treasurer, The State Convention of Baptists in Ohio
Rick Lance, Executive Director, Alabama Baptist Convention
Richard Land, President, Southern Theological Seminary
Greg Laurie, Senior Pastor, Harvest Christian Fellowship, Riverside, Calif.
Joe Ligon, President, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Marlow, Okla.
James MacDonald, Founder and Senior Pastor, Harvest Bible Chapel, Chicago
James Merritt, Lead Pastor, Cross Pointe Church, Duluth, Ga., Former President of the Southern Baptist Convention
R. Albert Mohler Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Russell Moore, President, Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
Samuel W. "Dub" Oliver, President, Union University
Frank Page, President & CEO, Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, Former President of the Southern Baptist Convention
Paige Patterson, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Former President of the Southern Baptist Convention
Thom Rainer, President & CEO, LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention
Jim Richards, Executive Director, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
J.D. "Sonny" Tucker, Executive Director, Arkansas Baptist State Convention
Jerry Vines, Former President of the Southern Baptist Convention
J. Robert White, Executive Director/CEO, Georgia Baptist Convention
Thomas White, President, Cedarville University
David Whitlock, President, Oklahoma Baptist University
Bryant Wright, Senior Pastor, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, Marietta, Ga., Former President of the Southern Baptist Convention
John Yeats, Executive Director, Missouri Baptist Convention
Michael Youssef, Founder and President of Leading The Way, Founding Rector, Church of the Apostles, Atlanta
Compiled by Colby Adams, director of media relations and digital communications at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and David Roach, chief national correspondent for Baptist Press.