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On The Persecuted Church Worldwide

WHEREAS, Religious liberty is a principle rooted in Scripture and demonstrated in the Gospel (Daniel 3:16–18; Galatians 5:1); and

WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith & Message (2000) asserts, “The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinion of any kind,” and “A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power”; and

WHEREAS, All individuals are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and therefore deserve to be regarded with dignity and respect; and

WHEREAS, Vast numbers of Christians worldwide are experiencing religious persecution because of their confession of Christ as Lord (2 Timothy 3:12); and

WHEREAS, Multiple thousands of these believers are martyred each year, while countless others are imprisoned, tortured, or otherwise oppressed for activities including possessing a copy of the Scriptures, gathering to worship Jesus Christ, or sharing the Gospel; and

WHEREAS, Faithful followers of Christ worldwide are facing extreme and severe persecution in nations including, but not limited to, North Korea, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iran, Pakistan, Eritrea, Nigeria, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Yemen, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Central African Republic, Qatar, Kenya, Turkmenistan, India, Ethiopia, Egypt, Djibouti, and Myanmar; and

WHEREAS, Governments that persecute Christians and abridge religious freedom invariably are guilty of other human rights abuses as well; and

WHEREAS, Followers of Jesus reflect the character and mission of our Lord by proclaiming liberty to captives and setting free those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18); and

WHEREAS, Baptists, owing much of our heritage first to the women and men of the Radical Reformation, have courageously stood for religious liberty and the exclusivity of salvation in Jesus Christ and were persecuted, many becoming martyrs; and

WHEREAS, Christians living in nations with religious liberty bear a responsibility not only to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters worldwide (2 Timothy 1:8) but also to employ every avenue to advocate justice on their behalf (Amos 5:24; Micah 6:8); now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Columbus, Ohio, June 16–17, 2015, give thanks to God that He has mercifully placed us in a nation that upholds religious liberty, and resolutely oppose and denounce all religious persecution anywhere in the world; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge Southern Baptists and all Americans to refrain from international trade, even at the risk of financial loss, with or in nations that practice religious persecution; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage our governmental officials to elevate religious liberty concerns to the highest priority in foreign policy, invoking sanctions against those nations which advocate or tolerate persecution of those with differing religious beliefs; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we gratefully acknowledge and trust that what wicked people intend for evil, God is sovereignly using for good (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28), affirming the message of the ancient theologian Tertullian to persecutors: “The oftener we are mowed down by you, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed”; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we call for all Southern Baptists to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters continually in our personal prayer times and regularly in our corporate worship services and prayer gatherings, asking that God grant them endurance, deliverance, justice, and souls won to Christ through their faithful and sacrificial witness.