Southern Baptists “Stand With the Bishops” Against the White House

At its Annual Meeting in New Orleans last week, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution on Religious Liberty.

Representing about 45,000 individual churches with 16 million members, the Southern Baptist Convention is a voluntary organization whose members agree on a statement of beliefs. Almost 8,000 “messengers,” or church representatives, attended the Annual Meeting. The SBC made history this year by electing its first African-American President, Rev. Fred Luter, Jr. It also made history by, for the first time, directing its members to work with Catholics in the fight to preserve religious liberty.

Dr. Richard Land, head of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

“Our religious freedom is under attack,” says Dr. Richard Land, who heads the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Former Vice President for Academic Affairs at Criswell College, where he taught Theology and Church History, Dr. Land has worked with then-Texas Governor William Clements, Jr., and former President George W. Bush on church-state issues, and served five terms with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He is the author of The Divided States of America: What Liberals and Conservatives Get Wrong About Faith and Politics, and numerous other books about religion and public policy.

Rev. Fred Luter, President of the SBC

Calling the HHS Rule mandating that all insurance policies cover contraception, sterilization, and “morning after” abortifacient drugs the latest in “a disturbing pattern” of actions encroaching on religious liberty, Dr. Land has worked with New York’s Cardinal Dolan and Baltimore’s Archbishop Lori on religious liberty issues. Last month his commission organized a day-long event on the issue for Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox, Jewish, Mormon, and other religious leaders.

“We took an unprecedented action at the convention this year,” Dr. Land explains. “Our booth is one of the most popular — we probably had six or seven thousand people stop by. We passed out information about how to get on the USCCB web site and how to adapt what they have for the Fortnight for Freedom for Southern Baptists.”

Although relations between Southern Baptists and Catholics have not always been cordial, Dr. Land says the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission received no complaints about the suggestion to visit the USCCB site, and the resolution passed “overwhelmingly.”

“We stand with the bishops on this,” he says. “The United States government is attempting to make people do what they believe is unconscionable. For Catholics, it’s contraception. For Southern Baptists, it’s abortifacients. We find it utterly unacceptable.”

Several resolutions were adopted at the Convention, including one about same-sex “marriage” and one laying out a shared understanding of the popular “Sinner’s Prayer” used by many member churches. The religious liberty resolution calls on the President to rescind the HHS mandate and reverse the decision to require Americans to contribute to an abortion fund as part of the their health care plans; on the military to respect the religious freedom of chaplains and allow all members of the armed services to express their beliefs about the morality of homosexual acts; and on the Department of Justice to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act.

The text of the resolution follows. 

ON PROTECTING RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

WHEREAS, God has made the human conscience inviolable (Romans 2:14–15; 1 Corinthians 4:3–5; 8:12; 10:29); and

WHEREAS, God has granted to all human beings the freedom to worship or not to worship according to the dictates of their consciences (Matthew 23:37; Revelation 3:20); and

WHEREAS, History is replete with examples of the disastrous results of governmental efforts to interfere with individual con- science and religious belief; and

WHEREAS, Our Baptist forebears suffered great persecution from civil authorities, including beatings, imprisonment, and death because of their commitment to the inviolable nature of conscience and faith; and (Go to Page 2)

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Gail Finke

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Gail D. Finke is an author and mother living in Cincinnati, where she writes for The Catholic Beat at Sacred Heart Radio.

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  • A_True_Blue

    The overwhelming majority of Catholic employers already provide good health insurance for their employees and have been for decades, is it not within our rights to determine to not provide additional things since contraception is evil as well it is NOT HEALTHY, therefore not needed in a health plan. What obama has done is force these employers to drop the coverage altogether or violate their conscience and face the Judgement of God, therefore making the employee, who do not care to have contraception coverage anyway, to be without it. THAT is a violation of Catholic principals and it is obama who is at fault plain and simple. Pregnancy is not a disease, fertility is not a disease, yet the contraceptive chemicals and devices ARE known to cause serious diseases like cancer, strokes, high blood pressure etc.
    The Catholic who supports obama in any way is no different than a member of the American Lung Association handing out cigarettes to teens and tweens at the local school.

  • markeyjoe

    The government (State or Federal) has no business mandating private employers, Catholic or otherwise, to provide what has been up to now an employee benefit. So now it coercively forces formal cooperation in evil requiring us to pay for cancer causing chemicals, to be used for perfectly healthy women, to avoid a perfectly healthy function (fertility), to a healthy act (sex), to avoid a healthy reaction (pregnancy), which can be avoided by perfectly healthy means (abstinence)! What is so healthy about that? Now obama has decided that the completely healthy woman (regardless of income) who simply does not want to get the “disease” of pregnancy should not be burdened with paying a very small copay. In the meantime, heart disease and cancer are the #1 and #2 killers of American women and those millions of women who suffer these diseases are on their own when it comes to copays and deductibles. yet free BC for everyone regardless of income seems to be so important that we have to give up our rights guaranteed (not given) under the 223 year old Constitution. obama has an agenda, and that is to bully Catholics because he and sebelius hate the truths that Mother Church proposes to society to free us from our sinful state.

  • mary_love

    The contraceptive mandate is the camels nose in the tent. The next mandate will be (already has been as of March 12) abortion. The next mandate after that will be infanticide, after that euthanize grandma/grandpa or the so-called “vegetable”, after that??? We have God given rights protected (not given) by the 1st amendment and these rights are being violated by this gov’t, your rights just might be next. 

  • Ken D

    Where does it end? The Obama administration is hoping ( I won’t say praying), that Catholics & Southern Baptists (Christians) give up the fight. That will give them the opening to chip away at our beliefs and eventually giving up our beliefs all together. No quarter given. This is not something that can be negotiated.

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