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Resolution On Endangerment Of Our Religious Liberties

WHEREAS, The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith (1990) seriously threatens the protection of the free exercise of religion assured by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution; and

WHEREAS, This ruling raises the possibility for the state to enforce generally applicable laws even when they violate the religious practices of persons or groups without first proving that the state has a compelling interest in the application of such laws to these practices; and

WHEREAS, The majority opinion of the court in this case has had the effect of relegating the nation’s first liberty to an inferior status by requiring that it be joined with another constitutional right for it to be afforded constitutional protection; and

WHEREAS, Baptists have historically demonstrated deep convictions concerning religious liberty and were instrumental in the introduction and adoption of the First Amendment, and have worked tirelessly for the preservation and practice of religious liberty; and

WHEREAS, We emphatically do not condone the use of illegal drugs, while we strongly object to the court’s reasoning in this case; and

WHEREAS, Pro-abortion organizations have argued before federal courts and the United States Congress that abortion rights are protected by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists have historically rejected the proposition that abortion is a religious liberty which should be protected under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment; Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED, That we the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, June 4-6, 1991, express our outrage over this ruling and call for the introduction and adoption of federal legislation to restore the religious liberty protections endangered by this ruling, and to maintain that such legislation cannot be used effectively to advance abortion rights under the proposed statute or any other proposed religious liberty statute; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That we encourage The Christian Life Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention to continue its work for the introduction and adoption of such legislation.