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On Freedom Of The Press

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists have long championed the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provide, in part, that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”; and

WHEREAS, Scripture directs Christ’s followers to function as “salt” and “light” in the culture and to fulfill their civic responsibilities (Matthew 5:13–16, 40–42; 17:24–27; 22:21; Romans 13:1–7), and many Christians pursue journalism as a vocation where they seek to be “salt” and “light”; and

WHEREAS, American history is replete with examples of journalists positively influencing culture and government through their exercise of freedom of the press; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists have been blessed with many capable journalists whose pens have been used for the common good, and are well served by Baptist Press and the news organizations of the Association of State Baptist Publications; and

WHEREAS, The American principle of freedom of the press is an important parallel to the sacred principle of freedom of conscience and religious liberty, also enshrined in the First Amendment, historically and uniquely advocated by Baptists; and

WHEREAS, Irresponsible journalism characterized by slanted news coverage, poor fact-checking, and imbalanced subject matter coverage results in misinformed citizens, decreased confidence in the press, and an endangerment of the principle of press freedom; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, June 14–15, 2016, urge pastors to uphold the freedom of the press, recognizing how closely it is tied to the exercise of our religious liberty; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage journalists and news organizations – both secular and religious – to exercise responsibly their freedom; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage all entities in the Southern Baptist family to honor freedom of the press by continuing to make reasonable accommodations to the news media seeking to cover Southern Baptist entities and newsmakers; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage Christians to exercise their own freedom responsibly by carefully judging the journalistic standards of news sources they read and cite, especially on social media; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we encourage Christian young people who are called to the vocation of journalism, as well as those currently engaged in the profession, to remember that ethically sound journalism should seek to be just, balanced, and accurate, and that journalists should be honest and courageous in their work.