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Resolution On Government Treatment Of Churches As Political Campaign Committees

WHEREAS, The attorney general of Tennessee has interpreted the Tennessee campaign Financial Disclosure Act of 1980 (Tenn. Code Ann. Sec. 2-10-101) to mean that churches are political campaign committees (Political Action Committees) if they spend at least $250 in any quarter for or against any measure submitted to voters; and

WHEREAS, Public officials have ordered certain churches in Jackson, Tennessee, to file forms as political campaign committees because these churches contributed funds to oppose a liquor-by-the-drink proposal submitted to the voters; and

WHEREAS, These churches have opposed, and are opposing, such rulings as an infringement upon the churches’ rights to address moral concerns; and

WHEREAS, The Tennessee Baptist Convention adopted in 1984 a resolution supporting the churches and opposing the cited law; and

WHEREAS, The effects of the enforcement of the cited law would be to chill the free exercise of religion, to stifle religion’s voice on moral issues in the public forum, and to draw churches into entangling subservience to government.

Be it therefore RESOLVED, That we, the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Dallas, June 11-13, 1985, register our alarm over any law that would require filing with the government when churches address moral and ethical issues in the public forum; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we urge Southern Baptists to protest government rulings and oppose passage of laws which attempt to restrict Christian influence on public policy; and

Be it finally RESOLVED, That we urge churches to oppose any law that would classify churches as political campaign committees if they address such issues.