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Resolution On Public Discourse And The Free Exercise Of Religion

WHEREAS, We are deeply concerned about the moral direction of American culture and particularly troubled about the moral climate in which our nation’s young people are being nurtured; and

WHEREAS, There is in our culture a climate of growing and pervasive hostility toward religion in the media, the entertainment industry, the courts, the political system, and the system of public education; and

WHEREAS, Our nation’s founders adopted the view embedded in our Constitution that the free exercise of religion should flourish in our land and that religious view in public discourse should be encouraged; and

WHEREAS, While many Supreme Court decisions have diminished the opportunity for the free exercise of religion in the public square, there are other decisions which protect the free exercise of religion, such as that of Zorach v. Clauson, which protects programs of released time for religious instruction; and

WHEREAS, It is the duty of government to accommodate itself to the free exercise of religion to the greatest practical extent.

Therefore, be it RESOLVED, that we, the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, June 15-16, 1999, work to reverse the trend of hostility toward religion by encouraging the keepers of the public trust to treat with openness and respect the expression of deeply held religious beliefs; and

Be it further RESOLVED, that we ask our President and Congress to help reverse the trends of hostility toward religion by passing laws that place no greater limitation or restrictions on religious assemblies or institutions than non-religious, that create similar impacts on land use.

Be it finally RESOLVED, that we encourage our individual members to work toward policies and programs in our public schools which provide greater opportunity for the free exercise of religion in general, and greater opportunities for religious instruction in particular, in a manner consistent with the principles embedded in The Baptist Faith and Message on “Religious Liberty” which reflect historic Baptist belief.