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Resolution On Religious Liberty And World Evangelization

WHEREAS, The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded His church to go into all of the world and preach the gospel, and to make disciples of all peoples; and

WHEREAS, The early disciples were obedient to this command through the enabling encouragement of the Holy Spirit; and

WHEREAS, The first church was threatened when they were obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ, and the religious and political leaders of their time sought to deny them this essential expression of their faith in Christ; and

WHEREAS, The freedom to evangelize was the first liberty which was attempted to be denied the church in Acts; and

WHEREAS, When arrested, persecuted and charged as criminals for being faithful to Christ, the church banded together to pray for liberty, to encourage and support one another; and

WHEREAS, Holy Scripture encourages the church to pray for those in authority, to take up the self-denying cross of Jesus Christ, and to remember those who are in prison as if in prison with them; and

WHEREAS, The Southern Baptist Convention, its Foreign Mission Board and national Baptist unions are bearing witness to the gospel in restrictive and politically troubled areas of the world; and

WHEREAS, There are increasing opportunities for evangelism in unreached areas of the globe but areas where religion liberty is not guaranteed; and

WHEREAS, There are occurrences of the suppression, arrest, persecution and harassment of Christians and Baptists in nations where the presence of a state church or state religion has sought to limit religious freedoms; and

WHEREAS, Notable occurrences of oppression have occurred in Bulgaria, Russia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, Sudan, Yemen, Cuba, Romania, India, China and other nations; and

WHEREAS, Most nations are members of the United Nations and are signatories of its charter guaranteeing religious liberty, as well as many nations being endorsers of other international protocols for liberty such as the Helsinki Accord in Human Rights; and

WHEREAS, Some of these nations have active Baptist church within their territories and whereas God desires all people living in these nations to know His love and to be reconciled to Himself through His gracious offer of salvation.

Therefore, be it RESOLVED, By the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, June 20-22, 1995, that the Southern Baptist Convention express its support for all peoples suffering denial of religious liberty, but especially for those who are of the household of faith, and even more particularly for those who share Baptist convictions and commitments; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That the messengers reaffirm their Baptist heritage in supporting the right of freedom of conscience in religious concerns and the right to convert or change ones religion not due to coercion but due to alteration of conscience and conviction; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptist Convention call upon its members to pray for those persecuted for their faith, to support them by alerting governments, political leaders and others in charge over us in the realm of secular governments of the concerns of the people of faith when such rights are denied; and

Be it finally RESOLVED, That the Christian Life Commission in concert with the Foreign Mission Board, Interfaith Witness Department of the Home Mission Board, and the Baptist World Alliance, be encouraged to continue to investigate such abuses and their causes as well as to inform our people and churches of such abuses and concerns, as well as to seek ways to represent even more effectively the concerns of this Convention to various government, diplomatic, and religious leaders at home and abroad to the greater end that the gospel may have freer course at home and abroad and that the people of the earth may know the goodness and love of God through the saving and atoning life and death and glorious resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.