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Report On Social Security (not A Resolution-adopted)

“History records the fact that the people called Baptists have ever been the protagonists of religious liberty and its sine qua non–a Free Church in a Free State. They remain forever grateful for the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, guaranteeing to all citizens of our great land absolute religious liberty. As our fathers shed their blood to secure for all our people the ideal of the separation of church and state, so today we pledge ‘our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor’ to preserve inviolate these freedoms.

“Accordingly, the Southern Baptist Convention, in its one hundred fifth year, composed of messengers from 27,285 churches in twenty-two states of the nation and the District of Columbia, embracing a total membership of 6,761,265, assembled in the city of Chicago, Illinois, this eleventh day of May, 1950, gives expression to the following resolution:

“WHEREAS, The Senate Finance Committee, considering, these many weeks past, the House-passed social security revision bill HR 6000, and agreeing to cover employees of non-profit organizations, has stipulated ‘except that all employees of religious denominations and of organizations owned or controlled by a religious denomination would continue to be excluded from coverage,’ permitting any denomination, desiring to do so, to participate on a voluntary basis; and

“WHEREAS, It is generally understood that this decision was reached by the Committee because the issue basically was deemed to be one of continued separation of church and state, a matter on which Southern Baptists have expressed themselves again and again, the basis upon which Southern Baptists laid their petition before said Committee, February 20, last;

“Now, therefore, be it RESOLVED, That this Convention instruct its corresponding secretary:

(1) To express the deep and sincere appreciation of all Southern Baptists to the Senate Finance Committee: for the courteous hearing accorded our representative, Dr. Walter R. Alexander, executive secretary, Relief and Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, February 20, 1950; for their most painstaking study of this important issue with its many involvements; and for their evident respect for the convictions of certain religious groups, Southern Baptists among them, in continuing to exclude from mandatory social security coverage lay employees of religious denominations and of organizations owned and controlled by a religious denomination.

(2) To petition the Senate of the United States in its deliberations on the report of the Senate Finance Committee with regard to extended coverage of Old-Age and Survivors Insurance, to preserve this exclusion of all employees of religious denominations and of organizations owned or controlled by a religious denomination.

“In this connection we respectfully submit the following statement:

‘Southern Baptists believe in social security for the American people. They have advocated it for many years. Sufficient evidence of that fact are the retirement plans they operate, offering coverage to every salaried employee of the denomination, without regard to race, sex, age or type of service rendered, and whether ordained or lay, which plans offer more substantial coverage, more adequate protection and larger age annuities than are provided under Federal Social Security.

‘Southern Baptists believe also in the absolute separation of church and state. It should be noted here that H.R. Bill 6000 makes an interesting and appreciated concession. It calls for contributions by employees of non-profit organizations on a compulsory basis, permitting contributions made by the employer to be on a voluntary basis. To many people, this provision may appear to keep well defined that line of demarcation between church and state. In its practical application, however, it remains our conviction this would not be the case. There would soon be brought to bear upon non-participating employers a series of pressures–pressures that would intensify rather than diminish as the years pass. The demands of employees would be one such pressure; public opinion, another; and, sooner or later, the pressure of governmental authority. Participation upon the part of the employer would cease to be voluntary, except in theory, for such pressure would become practically coercive.

‘If not coercive, the employer might choose not to pay the employer’s share of the tax; thus, the benefits accuring to the employee under the Bill would be greatly reduced, for the Bill further stipulates that, “If the employer does not elect to pay the employer’s contribution, only one-half of the employee’s wages will be credited toward benefits.

‘If, on the other hand, such pressure upon the employer becomes coercive, the rights of free men, guaranteed under the First Amendment are abridged.

‘Thus, we fear the possible and probable results of the option offered in the Senate Finance Committee’s report extended to any denomination that would seek the coverage of Federal Social Security for its employees. Such inclusion, even though not mandatory, would mean: (1) that, in the future, the function of providing for the economic security of employees of churches, denominational organizations, and other institutions of religion would be taken away from these groups and be made the function of the State; (2) that the churches and their institutions would be taxed by the State for the support of its social security program: (3) that the door would be open for the punitive coercion of the churches by the State in the enforcement of its regulations; and (4) it involves the individual workers of the churches in a direct economic dependence upon the State that will tend to dull religious conviction and stifle independent, conscientious action.

‘It is our conviction that the church’s highest spiritual function becomes impossible when its organization and methods, to any degree whatsoever, are controlled by the State or when it becomes economically dependent upon any other group. The church must remain entirely free from entangling alliances if it is to continue to function as the voice of God in human society’.”