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Resolution On Richie V. Sbc, Et Al.

WHEREAS, Religious and other charitable organizations across the nation, including the Southern Baptist Convention, are the target of a massive class action lawsuit now pending in federal court in Wichita Falls, Texas, styled Richie v. Southern Baptist Convention, et al., seeking a claimed $1 billion in damages because of alleged illegalities in issuing charitable gift annuities; and

WHEREAS, The Southern Baptist entities have done nothing illegal or injurious to the plaintiff, and have strongly denied the plaintiff’s allegations of wrongdoing; and

WHEREAS, Both the United States Congress and the Texas Legislature, realizing that the lawsuit was, at best, based on unintended interpretations of federal and state statutes and is causing the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars to worthwhile religious and other charitable causes, unanimously passed legislation intended to end the lawsuit; and

WHEREAS, The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on April 8, 1997, found that the legislation as passed was inadequate to end the lawsuit at this time; and

WHEREAS, Additional legislation is now pending in the United States Congress to address conclusively the issues raised by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals as to questions of federal law, which legislation is expected to be enacted soon; and

WHEREAS, Two bills were introduced in the recently concluded session of the Texas Legislature addressing the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ opinion, with one being unanimously enacted into law, and the second, Senate Bill 1948, which also apparently enjoyed unanimous bipartisan support, nonetheless failing on Memorial Day along with dozens of other bills for reasons unrelated to the merits of the bill; and

WHEREAS, Senate Bill 1948 as introduced is essential to give full force and effect to the previously expressed intention of the Texas Legislature that this lawsuit be brought swiftly to a conclusion in favor of the religious and charitable defendants, including the Southern Baptist Convention; and

WHEREAS, Only Governor George W. Bush is empowered to call a special session of the Texas Legislature in order to enact this legislation, thus ending this lawsuit; now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Dallas, Texas, June 17﷓19, 1997, finds that it is critical to all charitable and religious organizations such legislation be enacted in Texas, and that this Convention, with the greatest urgency, calls on Governor George W. Bush to call a special session of the Texas Legislature to enact such legislation.