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Resolution On Public Funds And Non-public Education

WHEREAS, President Richard Nixon appointed a Presidential Commission on School Finance and created a panel on non-public education within this Commission “with a mandate to examine the special strengths and weaknesses, the special needs and problems of schools in the private sector,” and

WHEREAS, This action is unprecedented because, for the first time in the country’s history, a national administration unequivocally committed itself to a pluralistic educational system where the non-public schools were seen as “an integral part of the nation’s educational establishment,” and

WHEREAS, The Office of Economic Opportunity is seeking to implement a series of experiments with an educational voucher system which makes public funds available to all qualifying schools, public, non-public and parochial, and

WHEREAS, Supporters of many private and parochial schools are striving to secure state aid for these schools, and

WHEREAS, The proposed plans include a wide variety of methods of providing state and federal funds for non-public and parochial schools, and

WHEREAS, Baptists stand firmly for the religious liberty of all people, believe in the principle of voluntarism in religion, and support the concept of free education for all children through public agencies,

Therefore, be it RESOLVED, By the Southern Baptist Convention in annual session at St. Louis, Mo., June 1-3, 1971, that we reaffirm the right of religious people or religious bodies to develop institutions to achieve their religious objectives at their own expense, and

That we reaffirm the right of parents to send their children to non-public schools at their own expense, and

That we reaffirm our belief that the use of public funds for education in church-controlled schools, regardless of the manner in which these funds are channeled to church schools, is contrary to the principle of religious liberty, and

That we hereby petition the federal and state governments to honor the principle of religious liberty and the constitutional position of separation of church and state inherent in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and

That we encourage our churches and our people to be alert to developments on the national, state, and local levels relative to the use of public funds for religious objectives, and that we ask them to insist that public funds for educational purposes be channeled only through public institutions which do not discriminate on religion or other grounds, and

That we request the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs to make known the view of the Southern Baptist Convention on public funds and for education in church-controlled schools to governments on all levels whenever it is appropriate to do so, and

Be it further RESOLVED, That since the President of the United States, in spite of the vigorous protest of many citizens, now has a personal representative at the Vatican, thus giving preferential recognition to one religious denomination and violating our concept of the separation of church and state, we hereby request the president of the 11,629,880-member Southern Baptist Convention to convey to President Nixon our extreme displeasure in this action, and ask that he recall this envoy at once.


WHEREAS, There is a continuing national discussion on the relationship between public agencies and the advancement of religion, and

WHEREAS, Baptists have made a major contribution to the world by insisting on religious liberty for all and by emphasizing that a genuine religious experience is a voluntary response to God, and

WHEREAS, Prayer is one of the most intimate and sacred relationships to God and must be kept free from governmental or ecclesiastical intrusion, and

WHEREAS, Prayer is not a genuine response to God unless it is voluntary,

Therefore, be it RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptist Convention in session at St. Louis, Missouri, June 2, 1971, reaffirm its resolution on Religious Liberty approved by the Convention at Atlantic City, N.J., May 22, 1964 (page 80, SBC Annual 1964), and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we do hereby reaffirm our belief in voluntary prayer on the part of all people and that we urge the churches to teach their members the true nature of prayer and the role of the Holy Spirit in helping people to pray, and

Be it further RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptist Convention encourage its constituency to participate in prayer experiences that are voluntary and uncoerced by governmental or ecclesiastical authorities.