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(RNS) Southern Baptist leaders have appealed to President Obama to assist in the release of 10 American missionaries charged with kidnapping children in Haiti.
“We do not know all of the facts of this case, but we are concerned that the continued detainment and possible conviction of these Baptist mission volunteers will distract the world’s attention and undermine the relief efforts so desperately needed by the Haitian people,” wrote the leaders in a Friday (Feb. 5) letter to Obama.
It was signed by Morris Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, SBC President Johnny Hunt, and Frank Page, a former SBC president and member of Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
The leaders said they do not want to interfere with diplomatic negotiations, but requested the president “use all means necessary” to get the missionaries spiritual and medical assistance while they are detained in Haiti.
“We ask … that you do everything within the authority of your office to secure a safe return home for these brothers and sisters in Christ as soon as possible,” they said.
A White House official said U.S. embassy officials have met with the American missionaries and their legal case is being monitored.
“Our government will take all appropriate steps to ensure the well-being of U.S. citizens detained abroad,” the official said.

— Adelle M. Banks
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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