WHEREAS, The 104th Congress is considering an amendment to the Constitution to protect the freedom of private persons, including students in public schools, to engage in voluntary prayer and other religious expression in circumstances in which expression of a non-religious character would be permitted; and to prohibit the denial of benefits or other discrimination against persons on account of the religious character of their speech or status; and
WHEREAS, Although specific language has not been selected, some proposals would also stop lawsuits challenging government accommodation of public or ceremonial acknowledgements of the religious heritage, beliefs and traditions of its people, such as the motto In God We Trust on coinage, or the display of the Ten Commandments in public buidings; and
WHEREAS, The biblical principle of religious liberty is rooted in the nature of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the nature of the human spirit as created by God: spiritual regeneration and reformation can and should occur only as an individual freely responds by faith to Gods work and Gods Word, and not in response to coercion by any person, government or church; and
WHEREAS, The constitutional principle of religious liberty is rooted in the convictions of Baptist forebears like John Leland and other early Americans who, despite arguments that no amendment was necessary, insisted upon certain amendments to the Constitution, resulting in the First Amendment Religion Clauses: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; and
WHEREAS, With growing frequency the Supreme Court has issued confusing and contradictory rulings which have led some lower courts and public officials to interpret the Establishment Clause as prohibiting what the Free Exercise Clause should protect, and to interpret the Free Speech clause as prohibiting discrimination or censorship based on the content of speech, with the exception that religious speech on government-owned property or at government-sponsored meetings must be treated discriminatorily in the name of strict separation of church and state; and
WHEREAS, After decades of hoping that legal briefs, statutory remedies, or changes in court personnel could reverse the rising tide of discrimination against religious expression in the schoolhouse, workplace and public square, it is time for the American people to express their will clearly through the Constitutional amendment process which provides the surest way to stop such discrimination.
Therefore, be it RESOLVED, That we, the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, June 20-22, 1995, call on Congress to adopt and send to the states for ratification a constitutional amendment to protect the freedom of private persons, including students in public schools, to engage in voluntary prayer and other religious expression in circumstances in which expression of a non-religious character would be permitted; and to prohibit the denial of benefits or other discrimination against persons on account of the religious character of their speech or status; and to permit government accommodation of public or ceremonial acknowledgements of religious heritage, beliefs and traditions of its people; and
Be it further RESOLVED, That we call on the Southern Baptist Christian Life Commission to work for passage of such an amendment, while also advocating Baptist principles of freedom of conscience, to prevent government from composing, compelling or subsidizing prayer or religious expression by any person; and
Be it finally RESOLVED, That on this 150th Anniversary of the Southern Baptist Convention, we reaffirm the principle and pledge ourselves to the practice of our God-given right of religious liberty, in order to obey Gods commands to pray without ceasing and to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone, everywhere.