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Resolution On Public Funding Of Anti-christian Bigotry

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists believe in the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provides, in part, that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; and

WHEREAS, The Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment to require that government actions must be neutral toward religion, showing neither favoritism nor hostility toward any religious faith; and

WHEREAS, Congress has, over the years, passed appropriations laws for hundreds of millions of dollars for the National Endowment for the arts, part of which has been used to fund indecent, blasphemous photographs or performances that ridicule, attack, or debase the Christian religion, especially conservative evangelical Christian faith and values; and

WHEREAS, The National Endowment for the Arts has been repeatedly urged by Congress and religious organizations, including the Southern Baptist Convention, to refrain from funding such offensive projects, but the NEA has continued to funding works containing anti-Christian bigotry; and

WHEREAS, A recent grant was made to a theater in New York City which will run a despicable show entitled “Corpus Christi,” in which our sinless Lord and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, is depicted as a sexually perverted person engaging in acts against nature with his disciples; and

WHEREAS, Public funding of such religious bigotry violates the principle of neutrality with respect to religion, and may consitute a serious violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment; and

WHEREAS, The NEA says that a denial of funding for such projects would violate the Free Speech clause; however, the issue is not censorship, but sponsorship: while a person may have a free speech right to attack a religious group, no person or group has the right to government sponsorship, using tax dollars to blaspheme God and offend religious citizens who have also paid their taxes.

WHEREAS, The Public Broadcasting System has in the past run programs attacking the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention and such programs have been re-run just before a Convention in some areas where the Southern Baptist annual meeting is being held; and

WHEREAS, During Easter week of 1998, the Public Broadcasting System dedicated four hours to an attack on biblical Christianity by a program named “From Jesus to Christ.”

Therefore, be it RESOLVED, That we, the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting June 9-11, 1998, in Salt Lake City, Utah, call on Congress to stop this public funding of religious bigotry, which is unconstitutional and immoral; and

Be it further RESOVLED, That we ask all of our 15.8 million Southern Baptists to contact federal legislators and urge them either to stop these outrageous incidents or else to stop public funding of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Public Broadcasting System.