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Resolution On Religious Freedom For All People

WHEREAS, Baptists have long stood for religious freedom and continue to believe and practice freedom of worship for themselves and others; and

WHEREAS, In some parts of the world certain governments and political leaders deny complete religious and civil freedom to some citizens; and

WHEREAS, In Soviet Russia such Christian leaders as the Rev. Georgi Vins, Secretary for the Council of Churches of Evangelical Christians and Baptists have been imprisoned for the alleged “crime” of serving the congregations which elected them as pastors; and

WHEREAS, Such acts of religious and civil oppression infringe upon inalienable human rights and endanger sincere efforts toward international understanding and world peace;

Therefore, be it RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptist Convention in annual session in Norfolk, Virginia, on June 16, 1976, reaffirm its historic commitment to full religious and civil freedom for all peoples everywhere; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention urge leaders of the Soviet Union and all other nations to immediately cease all policies which deprive citizens of their God-given rights to religious and political liberty; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we as Southern Baptists pledge our renewed prayer support to all who work for world peace, international goodwill and personal liberty for all members of the human family.


WHEREAS, The Tax Reform Act of 1969 requires certain nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations to file with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) annual statements respecting income, receipts, and disbursements but exempts religious bodies and their “integrated auxiliaries” from this requirement; and

WHEREAS, The Internal Revenue Service is seeking to establish, by administrative regulation instead of legislation, a legally valid definition of “integrated auxiliary”; and

WHEREAS, The Internal Revenue Service’s effort derives from the premise that Internal Revenue Service is competent to decide what is and what is not relevant to the mission of churches and religious bodies; and

WHEREAS, The Internal Revenue Service’s proposed definition and illustrations, published in the Federal Register on February 11, 1976, would exclude religious groups’ schools, hospitals, orphanages, homes for aged persons, etc., from the category of “integrated auxiliaries” and thus require them to file additional tax reports; and

WHEREAS, There is such variety among religious groups as to make it impossible for the Internal Revenue Service to impose its own concept of what is religious without (a) establishing, by governmental regulations, a uniformity of religion which offends both the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and (b) requiring the intrusion of government into religion’s precincts; and

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists have historically regarded, and now regard, evangelism, education, and benevolence as “coordinates” in religion and thus have denied, and now deny, that government has either the power or the right to exclude education and benevolence from their rightful relation to religion:

Be it therefore RESOLVED, That we, the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, assembled in Norfolk, Virginia, on June 15, 1976, do hereby protest the intrusion of the Internal Revenue Service into the affairs of church groups and their agencies, by presuming to define what is and what is not an integral part of these religious groups’ mission; affirm that the preservation of religious liberty and the right to religious diversity in the United States of America depends on keeping government–federal, state, or local–out of the religious affairs of the churches; and pledge ourselves to the preservation of religious liberty which, according to our best understanding, has been good both for state and for church in our nation; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we ask the Committee on Public Affairs to communicate this action to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue; instruct this committee to continue its zealous and responsible work in this area; and suggest to all bodies and organizations affiliated with this Convention that they be alert to detect and prompt to reject governmental threats to religious freedom and that, as need arises, they promptly and courageously inform government’s agents of our alarm over bureaucratic intrusion into the precincts of religious bodies and their agencies.