Press Release Dec 9, 2005

Message of ERLC Christmas card found in greeting, not cover

In an article distributed by the Associated Press Dec. 3, reporter Gary Tanner depicted The Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s 2005 Christmas card with precise detail, but neglected to describe the message inside the card in his story.

Tanner thoroughly conveyed the image of the card's cover: a snowy scene with a solitary figure holding a red umbrella walking past the U.S. Supreme Court building. However, in the approximately 400-word article regarding the ERLC’s card choice, not one mention was made of the card’s interior greeting or Scripture verse.

“We are pleased the Associated Press would take interest in our Christmas card,” said Dr. Richard Land, president of the ERLC. “However, they missed the true meaning. We believe the greeting and verse are the main message of the Christmas card, not the cover.”

The inside of the card reads “May Your Christmas Be Full of Promise, Joy, and Blessing.” In addition, the ERLC included the text of Matthew 1:21: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

Tanner’s article attempted to draw a connection between the Supreme Court photograph and the current events of 2005. He quoted Land as saying, “When I was picking the card, we were in the process of selecting a chief justice to the Supreme Court and there was another vacancy, so I said, ‘Why not?’”

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement last summer, and President Bush quickly nominated federal appeals judge John Roberts to take her place. After the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist in September 2005, Roberts’ nomination was changed to the position of chief justice, and he was confirmed in October.

Over the past five years, the ERLC has selected scenes of Washington, D.C., in winter for the cover of their Christmas card. After using various views of the Capitol building in the past, Land said he was looking for a change.

“We thought the White House would be too partisan,” Land said. “So, I was looking at possible cards and I liked the picture.”

The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest non-Catholic denomination with more than 16.3 million members in over 43,500 churches nationwide. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is the SBC's ethics, religious liberty and public policy agency with offices in Nashville, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C.

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