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On Religious Liberty In A Global Society

WHEREAS, Popular movements calling for greater freedom and democracy are afoot in nations such as Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Pakistan, Iran, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia, the governments of which deny their citizens religious liberty; and

WHEREAS, Many others in the Islamic world are denied the right to convert from Islam, because Sharia law makes such conversion a crime subject to penalties as severe as capital punishment; and

WHEREAS, Others around the world suffering under totalitarian regimes are denied the right to worship freely; and

WHEREAS, The diplomatic, economic, and military engagement of the United States of America in some of these countries brings with it a unique responsibility to promote religious liberty; and

WHEREAS, Advocacy for religious liberty is crucial not only abroad but also at home; and

WHEREAS, The rapidly changing religious diversity in the United States makes it important to reassert what Baptists have affirmed historically about complete religious liberty for all persons and a free church in a free state; and

WHEREAS, This conviction is grounded in the teaching of our Lord Jesus who declared that His Kingdom is “not of this world” (John 18:36), and therefore He has not authorized any earthly realm to advance His Kingdom by the power of the sword; and

WHEREAS, The transformation of the heart comes through the action of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8), and thus cannot be legislated or forced; and

WHEREAS, Efforts to confront spiritual matters with carnal, coercive means are both morally wrong and counter-productive (2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:12); now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, June 14-15, 2011, restate our long-standing view that religious liberty is an inalienable human right, rooted in the image of God and possessed by all human beings; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we affirm that this freedom entails the civil liberty to convert to another religion or to no religion, to seek to persuade others of the claims of one’s religion, and to worship without harassment or impediment from the state; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we oppose the imposition of any system of jurisprudence by which people of different faiths do not enjoy the same legal rights; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we deny that any government should use any coercive measure—including zoning laws or permits—to restrict religious speech or worship, based on the theological content of that speech or worship; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on the United States government to maintain complete religious liberty for all Americans, as guaranteed in the First Amendment to the Constitution; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we petition our political, diplomatic, and military leaders to make religious liberty for all people a priority in decisions of foreign policy and international aid; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who are now persecuted, imprisoned, or facing execution for their testimony of faith in Jesus.