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Resolution On Religious Liberty And No Establishment Of Religion

WHEREAS, There is a massive campaign on state and national levels to tax all citizens to finance education in parochial schools, President Nixon has pledged to find ways of channeling tax funds to parochial schools or their students, and tax credit and voucher plans are now receiving major attention;

WHEREAS, Philadelphia is a good setting in which to recall that abusive taxation and other arbitrary acts of government led to the creation of a system of government which guarantees the free exercise of religion and pledges that it shall do nothing respecting an establishment of religion;

WHEREAS, Our Baptist forefathers took an active role in opposing Virginia’s assessment bill to tax all citizens to support education under church direction, in establishing that government’s taxing power would abuse religious liberty if used for this purpose, and in writing the First Amendment into the United States Constitution;

WHEREAS, The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment was designed to protect religious liberty against government’s interference or control and the Establishment Clause was designed, as the United States Supreme Court said since the last annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, to protect against the “evils” of government’s sponsorship of religion, government’s financial support of religion, government’s active involvement in religious activity, and political division along religious lines;

WHEREAS, The United States Supreme Court and lower courts have knocked down numerous parochial school aid proposals within the last year and have made it clear that public control goes with public funds; and

WHEREAS, Any comprehensive system of tax credits or vouchers to underwrite parochial and private education would burden taxpayers with the costs of institutions and activities serving a non-public purpose, threaten each citizen’s freedom against taxation for religious and non-public purposes, endanger the religious character of parochial schools themselves, and tend to weaken public schools open to all without respect to religion, race, creed, color, or national origin;

Be it therefore RESOLVED, By the Southern Baptist Convention in annual session at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 6-8, 1972, that we renew our commitment to religious freedom and its corollary, no establishment of religion; affirm our belief that religion flourishes best without government’s interference or its tax support; caution schools directly or indirectly connected with this Convention to give serious study to the high price which government usually exacts for its favors; call on our people to support the institutions which serve our religious objectives; voice our earnest protest against being taxed to finance educational and other activities or churches; and express our thanks to God for courts which uphold the First Amendment against the enormous political pressures of our time;

Be it further RESOLVED, That we request the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs to keep our people informed on this subject and that we request educational agencies of this Convention to take appropriate steps, according to each agency’s commission, to maintain perennial education on this vital subject; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we request the president of this Convention to send copies of this resolution to President Nixon and to Justices of the United States Supreme Court, and that we request the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs to send copies to members of the United States Congress and to other public officials of its choosing, and that we request the Baptist Press and Baptist papers to give it prime coverage.