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Resolution Concerning Freedom Of Religion

1. That we hereby reaffirm our unfaltering belief in our deep devotion to the principle of the absolute freedom of the individual in all the concerns of religion and in all acts of worship, both private and public, and in its corollary the complete separation of church and state, or of organized religion and of organized government, in so far as directing authority and right of control are concerned. Each and every individual is endowed by the Creator with the unalienable right to worship as his own conscience may direct, or even not to worship at all if he is so inclined. Over religious beliefs and religious acts neither the state nor the head of the state may properly assume to exercise any authority or control. Nor can organized religion assume any authority or control over the affairs of the state.

2. That this principle of the freedom of religion and of the separation of church and state excludes all financial grants and subsidies from governmental funds derived from taxes levied upon citizens to the promotion of religion as such or to the maintenance of teachers of religion or to the maintenance and promotion of churches and other religious institutions whether missionary, educational or benevolent, which are built and fostered by religious denominations, or under distinctly religious auspices.

3. That this principle, with all of its implications, is expressed in the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States, commonly known as the Bill of Rights; that this is the most distinct and distinctive principle of the government of the United States, and is the largest contribution made by the United States of America to the political thought of the world. Just as this principle is the most vital and distinctive principle of American life, its preservation and inviolability are, and of a right should be, a matter of deepest concern to every citizen of this government.

4. That we deeply deplore the fact that in recent years both the Federal Government and many of the State Governments, have shown a careless disregard for this principle and have resorted to many and varied schemes for offering financial subsidies to religion and religious institutions. All of these schemes, whether they offer money directly or indirectly to denominational colleges and Roman Catholic parochial schools, are simply the nose of the camel finding its way into the tent. If these things are not checked and if religious institutions, especially Baptist Colleges and Colleges of other evangelical denominations, do not spurn all offers of governmental subsidies the time is not far distant when freedom of religion and the separation of church and state will be things of the past.

5. That we express our earnest disapproval of Senate Bill 3579, introduced by Senator Walsh of Massachusetts, which proposes so to amend the Social Security Act as to bring churches under its operation; that we suggest to our Baptist people that they use their influence with their Senators and Representatives to prevent the passage of this Bill; and that the Social Service Commission be authorized officially to indicate to members of Congress the mind of this Convention touching this matter. The Bill is objectionable both because it would impose a tax on churches and also and particularly because it would be class legislation, exempting from its operation churches or denominations having religious orders.


Southern Baptists heretofore have held and do now hold fast the American principle of the Separation of Church and State.

They believe that the power to tax is also the power to reform, to change, to destroy even; Therefore,

Be it RESOLVED, That we now register our opposition to the amendments to the Social Security Act which are now pending in Congress, which amendments would if enacted by Congress place a tax upon all of our churches, our schools, our orphanages, our missionary and benevolent boards, and all other agencies of the denomination.

Be it RESOLVED FURTHER, That Southern Baptists do not favor amending the Social Security Act at all; however, if in the judgment of Congress the Social Security Act should be amended in order to include in its provisions employees of secular non-profit organizations then this Convention insists that such amendment shall definitely exempt all employees of religious denominations, churches, boards, institutions educational and benevolent and all other non-profit agencies of the religious bodies of the United States.

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the Southern Baptist Convention whose constituency numbers some five million members with a family attachment of some fifteen million persons does not agree to the proposed Walsh Amendment as contained in Senate Bill No. 3579 which would be able to transmute a general tax into a “true contribution” by the process of placing money thus raised into a Social Security Trust Fund of the Federal Government. On the contrary, this bill would merely convert a general tax into a tax for a special purpose.

The tax proposed by Senate Bill No. 3579 would in our sober judgment be violative of the American principle of the Separation of Church and State and would amount to usurpation of the powers of the Federal Government with reference to religious bodies of every faith–Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and all others.