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Resolution On The Civil Rights Act Of 1984

WHEREAS, The United States Congress is currently considering the Civil Rights Act of 1984; and

WHEREAS, That Act, because of bipartisan support, will likely pass this summer; and

WHEREAS, That Act seeks to clarify the application of previous existing acts which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, and age; and

WHEREAS, Many religious schools and exclusively religious organizations have scrupulously avoided direct federal financial assistance so that they could maintain independence from federal regulations and interference; and

WHEREAS, That Act, in defining organizations which are to be considered “recipients” of federal financial assistance includes categories which may be misleading and which could result in undue government intrusion in the affairs of religious organizations, religious schools, and institutions.

Therefore, be it RESOLVED, That we, the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, June 12-14, 1984 request Congress to give immediate attention either to redefining the term “recipients” in the Act itself or making certain that the legislative history of the Act clearly exempts exclusively religious organizations, religious schools, and institutions from being defined as recipients of federal financial assistance under the Act; and

Be it finally RESOLVED, That the Christian Life Commission and the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs be requested to notify the Congress of this resolution as soon as possible.


WHEREAS, Southern Baptists have championed the rights of free exercise of religion and of free speech while opposing any establishment of religion; and

WHEREAS, There are many evidences that some student groups have been denied the right to assemble on public school premises solely on the basis of opposition to speech with religious content; and

WHEREAS, Non-religious student groups are generally allowed to meet on public school premises; and

WHEREAS, Strong bipartisan support has developed in the Congress for an “equal access” bill which would prohibit discrimination against student group meetings on the basis of the religious content of the speech to be used at those meetings.

Be it therefore RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptist Convention in its annual session at Kansas City, Missouri, June 12-14, 1984, voices its strong approval of the principle that if a public school establishes a limited open forum consisting of non-school-sponsored, student-initiated, student-controlled, student group meetings, no such group may be excluded on the basis of the religious content of speech used in its meetings; and

Be it further RESOLVED, That we commend all Baptist leaders for their work toward securing passage of this bill and ask that the leaders continue to assign a high priority to passage of an equal access bill; and

Be it finally RESOLVED, That the messengers to this Convention covenant together that they will write to the President and to their representatives and senators in support of such an equal access bill and that they will actively seek to enlist others to write expressing their support.


WHEREAS, In 1984 the United States of America and the Holy See established diplomatic relations with each other; and

WHEREAS, The Holy See is an ecclesiastical entity synonymous with the Roman Catholic Church; and

WHEREAS, The Holy See is located in an entity called State of Vatican City which is headed by the Bishop of Rome and in which office and citizenship are conditioned on some relationship with the Roman Catholic Church; and

WHEREAS, A stated purpose of the State Department in establishing full diplomatic relations with the Holy See is “to influence the political positions on a wide variety of issues . . . taken by the Vatican;” and

WHEREAS, Recognition of the Holy See implies national identity with American missionaries and representatives of religion overseas in such a way that it may imperil their personal safety; and

WHEREAS, The First Amendment to the United States Constitution was designed to prevent government sponsorship of religion, government financial support of religion, and government’s active involvement with religion; and

WHEREAS, The effects of diplomatic relations between the United States and the Holy See include: (a) implicit recognition of the hierarchical government of the Roman Catholic Church in a manner to which no religious entity is entitled, (b) favoritism to Roman Catholicism by the United States of America, (c) continuing and excessive entanglement between the U.S.A. and a single religious establishment, (d) departure by the United States from the wholesome principle of governmental neutrality with respect to competing religious claims and groups.

Be it therefore RESOLVED, That messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, on June 12-14, 1984, register continuing opposition to a U.S. ambassador to the Holy See; urge members of churches cooperating with this Convention to express their sentiment to elected officials; pledge support of actions which challenge diplomatic relations with the Holy See; commend our Baptist leaders for opposing a U.S. ambassador to the Holy See; urge the officers of the Convention to continue their opposition, acting in concert with each of our Baptist agencies; and, request this resolution to be sent to the President of the United States, to candidates for the presidency, to members of Congress, and to the platform committees of major political parties.