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Resolution On Civil Rights And Religious Institutions

WHEREAS, Congress recently passed the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988 which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and handicap in federally funded institutions; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists generally support civil rights for all Americans, particularly in federally funded institutions; and

WHEREAS, The Act does not recognize the important distinction between direct and indirect federal funding; and

WHEREAS, The exemption for religious institutions is available only to those institutions “controlled by” a religious organization, and many Baptist institutions are independent agencies and are not directly “controlled by” a church, convention, or association of churches; and

WHEREAS, This raises potential church-state problems, particularly for Baptist colleges and universities; and

WHEREAS, Our Baptist forebears paid dearly, sometimes by overt persecution, for the rich heritage of religious liberty they bequeathed to us; and

WHEREAS, Believing firmly in religious liberty instead of simply religious toleration, we believe that churches and religiously-affiliated institutions which do not accept direct federal aid should be explicitly exempt from the provisions of this Act, thus not having to apply for exemptions on an individual basis as it presently the case.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That we, the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in San Antonio, Texas, June 14-16, 1988, do hereby urge all Baptist agencies and institutions to monitor closely the implementation of this Act; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That we urge Baptists agencies and institutions to refuse direct federal assistance, and we encourage those agencies and institutions receiving only indirect assistance to seek legal counsel about seeking exemptions under the Civil Rights Restoration Act where necessary to protect their free exercise of religion; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That we urge Congress to amend the Act to insure that the constitutional guarantees of the free exercise of religion are not infringed; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That, until this act is amended, we call upon government officials to continue interpreting the exemption broadly so as to include those institutions indirectly controlled by religious organizations; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That we request the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs and the Public Affairs Committee of the SBC to seek this corrective legislation, in accordance with the report of the Special Fact-Finding Committee on the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis, June 1987; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, That we encourage all Baptists to contact members of Congress to urge them to support this legislative action.