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Resolution On Eeoc Guidelines On Religious Harassment

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists historically have supported religious freedom and its related political ideal of a “free church in a free state,” as embodied in the First Amendment; and

WHEREAS, We affirm that the principle of the separation of church and state applies to the workplace in the sense that employers and employees should be free from governmental interference or coercion as they freely express matters of biblical truth and faith; and

WHEREAS, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the enforcing agency for federal civil rights law prohibiting employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, or disability, and has the authority to issue guidelines to help employers understand and comply with various statutes and court decisions; and

WHEREAS, The EEOC has proposed, but has not yet formally adopted, certain “Guidelines on Harassment” which would apply a consolidated set of rules to all charges of workplace harassment, whether the subject matter involves race, gender, religion, or some other protected group; and

WHEREAS, The definition of harassment in the proposed guidelines is so vague and ambiguous as to be extended to various forms of religious expression which someone may claim to create a “hostile or offensive environment”; and

WHEREAS, Many Southern Baptists, while deploring religious harassment in the workplace, nonetheless oppose these consolidated, “one-size-fits-all” harassment guidelines, because of the “chilling effect” they will have upon free religious expression in the workplace; and

WHEREAS, If the subject of religion were to remain in the proposed guidelines, religious liberty advocates and employment lawyers predict that many employers will try to avoid lawsuits by adopting company policies which severely restrict freedom of religious expression among employees in the workplace; and

WHEREAS, Many Southern Baptists find it offensive that religion would be relegated to the same, consolidated guidelines which are applied to allegations of racist slurs and sexual vulgarity; and

WHEREAS, Religion is constitutionally and statutorily different from all other groups covered by the proposed guidelines, which uniqueness demands distinctive treatment in separate guidelines.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That we, the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Orlando, Florida, June 14-16, 1994, express our concern that the consolidated “Guidelines on Harassment” proposed by the EEOC, as currently written, pose a grave risk to religious freedom in the workplace; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, That the Christian Life Commission be encouraged to work vigorously with the appropriate government officials to see that religion is deleted from the proposed guidelines and that the subject of religious harassment should be addressed separately in the guidelines on religious discrimination.