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On Exercising Religious Freedom And Freedom Of Speech

WHEREAS, The United States Constitution guarantees freedom of religious expression for all citizens; and

WHEREAS, Freedom of speech is a cherished liberty which our Baptist forebears defended at great personal sacrifice; and

WHEREAS, Freedom of speech includes protection of political speech, including speech pertaining to social and religious values; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists and other evangelical voters exercised their freedom of speech and their religious freedom during the 2004 general elections to help encourage and implement biblical values in American culture; and

WHEREAS, Christians have a responsibility to use their freedoms in such ways as defending traditional marriage, protecting the sanctity of human life, and combating the propagation of immoral behavior and deviant lifestyles; and

WHEREAS, Churches and pastors have a responsibility to bring the gospel to bear on every aspect of culture at the local, state, and national levels by understanding the legal means of applying biblical values to social and political issues; and

WHEREAS, The law permits a pastor to individually endorse candidates for political office so long as it is clear that he is speaking on his behalf only and not on behalf of the church; and

WHEREAS, By law, churches may engage in non-partisan voter-identification, voter-registration, voter-education, and get-out-the-vote activities so long as such activities are not directed at the supporters of any particular candidate or political party; and

WHEREAS, A church may distribute voter guides regarding a candidate’s position on a wide range of issues or scorecards reporting on the voting records of incumbents, provided the church does not describe a candidate’s position or voting record as consistent or inconsistent with the church’s position on a given issue; and

WHEREAS, A church may allow political candidates to speak on church premises, provided all candidates are invited and given equal opportunity to speak; and

WHEREAS, Church facilities may be used by political candidates on the same basis as civic groups; and

WHEREAS, While a church cannot establish a political action committee, pastors and other like-minded individuals may establish a political action committee separate from the church, provided they do not use the assets of the church; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, June 21-22, 2005, urge Christians to advocate political and social values consistent with biblical teachings and to vigorously oppose any attempts to abridge the free speech and religious rights of any American citizen or group; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we commend The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, including their ivotevalues campaign, as well as other like-minded evangelical organizations for their support of biblical values in the public arena; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we will vote only for candidates and policies at all levels of government that will protect our religious freedoms and advocate traditional Judeo-Christian values; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge churches and pastors to understand and exercise their right and responsibility to stand for biblical values and to influence the culture; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we call upon Southern Baptists to pray for our nation and its leaders and to use their freedom of speech and religious liberty to further the cause of Christ in the public arena.