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On The Employment Non-discrimination Act

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists historically have supported religious freedom and its related political ideal of a “free church in a free state,” and affirm that the First Amendment statement on religion applies to the workplace in the sense that employers and employees should be free from governmental interference or coercion as they freely express matters of religious conviction; and

WHEREAS, Scripture speaks of the God-given rights of conscience and the freedom of dissent based on moral and religious principles (Daniel 1:3-17; Acts 4:5-20; 5:17-32); and

WHEREAS, Christians face a series of challenges to religious liberty—such as “hate crimes” laws around the world that would criminalize the preaching of the gospel, laws requiring Christian orphan ministries to facilitate adoptions to homosexual couples, the erosion of conscience clauses enabling health care workers to refuse to participate in abortion-related activities, and so forth; and

WHEREAS, The right of religious organizations to hire people whose beliefs and conduct are consistent with the principles such organizations espouse is inherent within the constitutional guarantee of religious liberty and was also affirmed in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and

WHEREAS, Congress subsequently strengthened those statutory protections, declaring that any “religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society” could consider the applicants’ religious faith during the hiring process; and

WHEREAS, The Supreme Court upheld hiring protections for faith-based organizations in 1987, and Congress has included those protections in numerous federal laws; and

WHEREAS, Legislation titled the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that has been introduced in the House of Representatives (HR 3017, with 202 co-sponsors) as well as in the Senate (S 1584, with 45 co-sponsors) would radically alter the idea of protected classes in American law, granting such things as sexual orientation the same employment protections as gender and race, placing these immoral and aberrant behaviors on the same level as the immutable traits of gender and ancestry; and

WHEREAS, ENDA would make it illegal for businesses and organizations with fifteen or more employees to fire or to refuse to hire or promote an employee because of his or her actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity; and

WHEREAS, Although recent formulations of ENDA contain a religious exemption that states that churches do not have to hire “homosexual ministers,” they do not contain an exemption for rights of conscience or religious freedom to protect businesses with a religious character (such as religious bookstores, publishers, and parachurch ministries) and other businesses with religious owners or managers; and

WHEREAS, Such legislation jeopardizes our First Amendment freedoms by establishing in law the principle that disapproval of homosexual conduct is a form of bigotry, equivalent to racism; and

WHEREAS, Homosexual persons are not our enemies but our neighbors whom we love and wish to see find the same forgiveness and freedom we have found in Christ; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Orlando, Florida, June 15-16, 2010, express our profound opposition to ENDA and any similar legislation; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call upon the president of the United States to appoint, and Congress to confirm, only nominees to federal judicial positions who will protect foundational religious freedoms; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we plead with churches to love all persons, with mercy and grace, regardless of the nature of each person’s sin, and to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, with compassion and conviction, regardless of the laws of the state (Acts 4:18-20).