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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 RESOVLED, 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, The American public school system has historically had the support of Southern Baptists, and

WHEREAS, A basic tenet of American democracy is that every child deserves an equal opportunity for public education regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, or economic status, and

WHEREAS, The new generation is our most valuable asset for the future, and

WHEREAS, The vitality of the nation is aided by public education of high ethical and academic quality,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That this Convention reaffirm its commitment to our system of public school education as a means of raising the knowledge level of all children in the nation, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That we support efforts to improve the quality of public education, thus enhancing the possibility of responsible freedom for each young person in America, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That we seek God’s guidance in the midst of social change that our attitudes and actions may speed the progress of justice and our patience and compassion may make a positive witness of Christian love to all people in our day.