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Resolution On Lobbying Legislation

WHEREAS, The United States Congress has considered legislation designed to bring churches and not-for-profit groups under tighter controls relating to lobbying efforts (for example, H.R. 8494, S. 1785, and S. 2026 in 1978), and

WHEREAS, Such legislation will almost certainly involve registering with and reporting to Government as a condition of expressing views on public policy or of dealing with governmental officials about public policy, and

WHEREAS, Proposed legislation on lobbying carries the potential of governmental sanctions against churches, under the guise of enforcing lobbying laws, and

WHEREAS, The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, as construed by the courts, has placed religion in a privileged position, beyond the reach of governmental control, and

WHEREAS, Each religious group in this country has the constitutional right to determine for itself what is integral to its religious mission and ministry and cannot afford to sacrifice a constitutional right in order to exercise a statutory privilege, and

WHEREAS, National organizations of numerous religious persuasions, including the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, are in agreement that proposed lobbying legislation would restrict religionists’ exercise of religion and would also tend to silence religionists’ expressions on public policy related to moral and ethical matters, and

WHEREAS, Religious faith is inextricably united with morality.

Be it therefore RESOLVED, That we, messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 14, 1978, express alarm over the potential threat to religious freedom inherent in proposed lobbying legislation calling for tighter governmental control over churches and not-for-profit groups; commend the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs for opposing such legislation in the past and urge it to continue its steadfast opposition to such legislation; and urge persons affiliated with this Convention to let public officials know of our opposition to any legislative experiment on religious liberty, such as posed by lobbying legislation now pending in the United States Congress or in any state legislature.