The president of the Southern Baptist Convention says he offered to pray with Rudy Giuliani to accept Christ as his savior, but the Republican presidential candidate declined.
Frank Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., recently told a group of ministers in Oklahoma the biggest surprise of his 16 months leading the nation’s largest Protestant body is the contact it brings with politicians.
Page said he has “met with almost all the presidential candidates” and has pledged that his “singular purpose” in those meetings would be to “tell them about Jesus.”
“When I spent two solid hours in a private meeting with Rudy Giuliani, I shared Christ with him so much that at the end of that two hours I said, ‘Rudy, I’m not going to leave this place unless I give you an opportunity to pray with me to receive Jesus as your savior. Would you do that with me Rudy?'” Page recounted.
“He said, ‘No, Frank, I’m not ready to do that. My daddy knows Jesus like that, but I’m not ready for that.'”
Page said he gave the former New York mayor his cell phone number and invited him to call “any time, day or night.”
“You just call me, and we’ll talk about Jesus, Rudy,” Page recalled the conversation. “You’re a great leader, Rudy, and you may be the president of our country some day. But you’ll never be the leader you need to be unless you have Jesus as the heart of who you are.”
Page said he also asked Sen. John McCain to his face, “Who owns your soul, John McCain?”
“That’s what I want to know,” Page said. “Obama was in our town this weekend. I didn’t get to talk to him this weekend, but his people have called my office.”
Page said he also spoke to a man who works for Sen. Hillary Clinton who wants him to meet with her. “I will,” he said. “I will talk to every one to them.”
Page’s comments were recorded Oct. 7 during a dialogue at a meeting of the Tulsa Metro Association of Baptist Churches. The comments were published Oct. 17 as an audio webcast at the 12 Witnesses blog, produced by Oklahoma pastor Art Rogers.
In June Page told the Associated Press he had already spent time with leaders such as McCain, Giuliani and Mike Huckabee and had spoken on the phone with Mitt Romney.
The AP story described a chat over breakfast between Page and Giuliani, in which the two discussed “everything from the Roman Catholic Mass to evangelical beliefs about accepting Christ.”
Page said in June he told Giuliani, “We like you as a person” but also described “an honest dialogue” about “extreme differences” with the candidate’s views on abortion and gay rights.
Giuliani, who is leading polls among Republican presidential contenders without help from the Religious Right, is scheduled to make an appearance at an Oct. 19-21 Washington briefing sponsored by Family Research Council Action.
Still waiting for a consensus candidate to emerge, some Christian Right leaders have talked of turning to a third-party candidate if Giuliani wins the GOP nomination.
In May Giuliani traveled into the Bible belt to try to explain his views on abortion and gay marriage at Houston Baptist University.
In other remarks to Oklahoma Baptists, the SBC president said he disapproved of churches airing internal disputes over the Internet, alluding specifically to a Web site produced by critics of Pastor Jerry Sutton at Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn.
Even though Sutton opposed Page two years ago for the SBC presidency, “I’ve come out supporting him–and I don’t know any of the details–it’s not my business,” Page said. “That church has no business going after their pastor by putting things in the newspaper and putting it on the Internet. I can’t go with that. That’s so contrary to the spirit of Christ in Matthew 18.”
Page also said he is tired of seeing denominational leaders “who can strut sitting down.”
“I know that this could be published, and that’s fine,” Page said. “I would love to see leaders who have a real, true kingdom agenda and see this role not as something they deserve but somewhere they can serve.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.