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On Violations Of Religious Freedom And Assembly In The United States

WHEREAS, God has granted religious freedom to humanity, even in matters of eternal significance (Genesis 2:16–17; Luke 13:34; Acts 4:19–21; 5:29; 17:16–34); and

WHEREAS, Religious freedom is an indispensable human right and an essential component of a free society; and

WHEREAS, Religious freedom by definition includes the freedom of the individual to live in accordance with his or her religiously-informed values and beliefs as illustrated by Article 18 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance”; and

WHEREAS, The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees religious freedom for everyone under its jurisdiction, declaring that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”; and

WHEREAS, Religious freedom must include the freedom of assembly based on religiously-informed beliefs and is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution; and

WHEREAS, In deciding NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449 (1958) the United States Supreme Court declared, “It is beyond debate that freedom to engage in association for the advancement of beliefs and ideas is an inseparable aspect of the ‘liberty’ assured by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which embraces freedom of speech”; and

WHEREAS, In order to retain their official standing as a campus organization, Christian and other religious groups on some prominent college and university campuses are being required to allow into membership and leadership individuals who do not affirm the moral and religious convictions of the organizations; and

WHEREAS, Some people of faith are being denied the right to operate their businesses in a manner consistent with their religiously-informed beliefs, especially with regard to their convictions about homosexuality, resulting in loss of status, income, and livelihood; and

WHEREAS, Some officials and municipalities have discriminated against constitutionally-protected religious activities in public housing, public schools, and other tax-supported spaces; and

WHEREAS, Despite the long and honorable tradition of respect for religious freedom within the ranks of the United States armed services, many members of the United States military are experiencing heightened levels of animosity and hostility because of their faith; and

WHEREAS, Chaplains in the United States military are growing increasingly concerned about their freedom to minister to America’s servicemen and women according to the dictates of their faith without fear of reprisal or intimidation; and

WHEREAS, The federal government is denying the right of its citizens to exercise their religious freedom by its insistence that they provide in their employee healthcare plans for contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs and devices; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Houston, Texas, June 11–12, 2013, express our gratitude for our God-granted religious freedom; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on college administrators to respect the right of students to freedom of  association and stop requiring religious student groups to accept as members or select as leaders those who do not share their core religiously-informed beliefs; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call upon the federal, state, and local governing authorities to hold any college or university accountable that discriminates on the basis of religion, violating students’ constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of religion and association; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we implore the United States Department of Defense and each branch of the military to reaffirm their commitment to the freedom of all servicemen and women to conduct themselves in accordance with the dictates of their faith; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on these same military organizations to respect and continue to uphold the right of their chaplains to minister freely according to the dictates of their faith; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we ask these military entities to communicate consistently throughout every branch of the armed forces and to every person who provides instruction or guidance to our servicemen and women the right of all servicemen and women, and the chaplains who serve them, to conduct themselves in accordance with the dictates of their faith; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on every branch of government to investigate all claims of First Amendment violations and to educate, discipline, or prosecute any who are involved in these violations; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we call on the current administration to uphold the constitutional protections accorded people of faith to provide healthcare for their employees that is consistent with their core religious beliefs; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge those who engage in defending the legal rights of people of faith to come to the aid of those who are facing discrimination for their faith by federal, state, and local governments, institutions, or individuals; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention to continue its faithful defense and advocacy of the God-given and constitutionally-guaranteed rights of freedom of religion and assembly; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we commit to stand with and pray for those in our nation and around the world who are persecuted for their faith.