The Post's account of the invitation to President Bush to speak at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention {Federal Page, May 22} contained some errors.

First, the president was invited to speak only after an invitation was requested from the White House. Thus, the suggestion that the president had to decline the invitation because it came too late was misleading.

Additionally, the reference to the SBC as "a frequent forum for Republican presidents" was wrong and misleading. The last president to address the SBC at an annual meeting was Gerald Ford in 1974. The story seemed to imply that the SBC is a tool of Republican Party politics, whereas it is in reality a highly diverse religious denomination with Democratic as well as Republican members. The SBC distances itself from partisan politics even while attempting to affect society for strong moral and social values through legitimate involvement in the public policy process.

An additional objection that I had to the story concerned the president's invitation to members of a homosexual rights movement to a White House bill-signing ceremony. True, many Southern Baptists were outraged to learn that the president had taken this unprecedented action, and our concerns were communicated to the president during the same time period in which the White House was attempting to arrange the speech. Because this matter had become so controversial to many Southern Baptists, I felt a responsibility to inform the White House that the president might receive a cool reception if he addressed this year's annual meeting.

On a minor point, the SBC will meet in New Orleans, not Dallas as the story reported.


President, Southern Baptist Convention

Jacksonville, Fla.