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Resolution Urging Care In Safeguarding The Principle Of The Separation Of Church And State

WHEREAS, Upon the recent death of Pope Pius XI both houses of the United States Congress adjourned in honor of the Pope; and

WHEREAS, The President later sent Mr. Joseph P. Kennedy, Ambassador to the Court of St. James, as his personal representative to Rome to witness or participate in the crowning of Pope Pius XII;


1. That we recognize in the decease of the late Pope the passing of a distinguished world citizen which brought keen sorrow to all peoples of his faith with whom we sympathize in the loss of their leader.

2. That we, the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention in session at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, May 20, 1939, composed of messengers from a total church membership of more than four million Southern Baptists, do cheerfully recognize and champion every person’s right and liberty to make his own choice in matters of religion.

3. That the right and freedom of religious opinion does not justify the union or mingling of state and church, but rather requires and demands that the two be kept separate and inviolate the one from the other.

4. That we deplore and protest such actions by Congress and the President of the United States as unwise and unwarranted, and as indicating a dangerous tendency toward the union of church and state, which is a chief cause of the troubles of the old world.

5. If the sending of the Ambassador of the United States was to honor the crowning of an ecclesiastical head we believe it was an obvious violation of the traditions of this Republic and of the spirit of the First Amendment of our Constitution even if, perhaps, not of its letter. If this course was in honor of the crowning of the civil ruler of a state with which we are not in diplomatic relations it was as obviously an impropriety.

6. That we request Congress and the President to adhere strictly to the principles on which our government was founded and the basal principle of separation of church and state so plainly taught in the first section of the bill of rights in our constitution.

7. That copies of these resolutions be delivered by the Public Relations Committee to the President, to the Secretary of State, and to members of the House and Senate of the United States Congress.


1. That we record our satisfaction that the new threat to the freedom of religion, the O’Day Bill, which would have brought our churches and all benevolent institutions under the taxing power of the government, was unanimously defeated in the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives.

2. That while we rejoice in our freedom we must not use our freedom as an occasion of the flesh and that our denomination should make worthy and adequate provision for its aged and disabled ministers and religious workers of all classes. The Minister’s Retirement Plan, now being promoted by the Relief and Annuity Board, and already adopted by many of our Baptist institutions and by many of the States within the bounds of the Southern Baptist Convention, should be adopted by all and vigorously promoted until adequate provision shall be made for the physical comfort and well being of all aged and disabled ministers and all other workers who give their entire time, effort and strength to the promotion of our Baptist interests.


1. That we look with grave concern upon the act of the President of the United States in sending Ambassador Jos. P. Kennedy to the “coronation” of Pope Pius XII, as the President’s representative;

2. That in this act, in our opinion, the President made a grave departure from the spirit of the constitution and brought pain to the great majority of the American people.

3. That we are especially concerned lest this act foreshadow some purpose on the part of the administration to enter into diplomatic relations with the Vatican, against which we would deeply and earnestly protest.