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On Discrimination Against Military Chaplains

WHEREAS, Personnel from Southern Baptist churches serve this nation and defend its freedoms with dignity and honor in the United States Military; and

WHEREAS, Ministers of the Gospel endorsed by the Southern Baptist Convention Chaplaincy Evangelism Team of the North American Mission Board serve with dignity and distinction in the United States Military; and

WHEREAS, All military personnel swear or affirm an oath to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic”; and

WHEREAS, The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, . . . ” thereby guaranteeing both the freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion; and

WHEREAS, A biblical mandate and constitutional right of Southern Baptist chaplains is to preach and teach the whole counsel of God according to the dictates of their biblical and denominational beliefs (Acts 4:18-20); and

WHEREAS, Legal claims pending in the federal courts, as well as reports in the national press, allege that the Navy has acted with prejudice toward Southern Baptist naval personnel and their chaplains and denied them fair and equitable treatment because of their evangelical beliefs and practices; and
WHEREAS, The Navy allegedly has allowed and encouraged an anti-evangelical, hostile culture resulting in active oppression of Southern Baptist and other evangelical naval personnel; and

WHEREAS, Alleged systemic denominational imbalances have prejudicially advantaged liturgical denominations and unfairly disadvantaged evangelical naval personnel and chaplains at every level; and

WHEREAS, Evangelical chaplains allege that the leadership of the United States Navy Chaplain Corps has levied unequal treatment against them, including the illegal denial of promotion and retention based on religious bias; and

WHEREAS, Evangelical Navy chaplains allege in federal court that when they preached the Gospel, chapel services grew numerically, and that these services were often shut down or changed to liturgical formats, after which the number of attendees dramatically decreased; and

WHEREAS, The net effect of these alleged practices of discrimination is restricted biblical ministry to Southern Baptists and other military personnel and their families; and

WHEREAS, Limited facilities coupled with language and cultural differences in foreign duty locations make it imperative that the military provide meaningful opportunities for Southern Baptists and other evangelical Christians to worship freely; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 12-13, 2001, renounce any unconstitutional treatment of Southern Baptist chaplains and all military men and women; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge the United States Navy to rectify past documented injustices, and that we further urge that policies and procedures be implemented to insure free religious practice for all military personnel, without discrimination; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we affirm all Southern Baptist and other evangelical chaplains and military personnel serving in the armed forces; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we prayerfully encourage military chaplains to continue to be “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10); and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we genuinely commend their preaching and teaching “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), and fully support their commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ without fear of retaliation.