Resolution on Religious Liberty, Human Rights, World Peace and Public Morality

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BWA World Congress Resolution 1975.1

Whereas, in the providence of God, religion and life are joined together, and
Whereas, the Bible teaches that God is concerned and leads his people to be concerned about both

individuals and society, and

Whereas, during the past five years the BWA has assigned to the Commission on Religious Liberty and Human Rights special responsibilities for study in the areas of religious liberty, human rights, world peace, and public morality, and

Whereas, much time and energy have been devoted to securing and preparing reports, studies, and appraisals of these four subjects which have been dealt with annually be representatives from Baptist bodies from around the world,

Therefore, be it resolved that the following statements of Christian principle be adopted as Christian concerns of the Thirteenth Congress of the Baptist World Alliance:

Religious Liberty

With gratitude for our Baptist heritage of religious liberty and for growing support of it among religious and political leaders of the world, yet mindful of dangers posed by both hostile and friendly governments and by trends within religious communities, including our own, we reaffirm our belief in full religious liberty for all persons.

This freedom includes the following:

a. Freedom to profess openly and confess one’s faith, including baptism, even when this involves a change of religious identity.

b. Freedom to proclaim one’s religious beliefs and experiences.
c. Freedom to engage in private and corporate worship.
d. Freedom to teach one’s religious beliefs and freedom of parents to provide religious instruction and

nurture for their children.
e. Freedom to advocate greater social justice and social change in the civil order.

f. Freedom of religious groups to conduct their own affairs without outside control or interference and to have property to use for their needs.

We Baptists of many nations, assembled in Stockholm for the Thirteenth Baptist World Congress, solemnly recommit ourselves:

1. To pray, advocate, and work for effectual religious freedom for all human beings, knowing that many of our brothers and sisters have lost their freedoms and in some cases their lives while resisting government restrictions.

2. To call upon leaders of religious bodies and leaders of national governments to accept, implement, and defend full religious liberty for all persons.

3. To advocate freedom to publish and distribute materials pertaining to one’s religious beliefs.

4. To refrain from seeking or accepting from civil governments for religious purposes privileges that would infringe upon the full religious liberty of all citizens.

5. To seek to bring our churches more fully under the sole lordship of Jesus Christ, so that we may truly “obey God rather than men.”

Human Rights

We believe that God has made humankind in his own image and that he endows us with certain human rights which Christians are obligated to affirm, defend, and extend:

1. The right to the necessities of life includes the rights of all persons to have access to life, liberty, food, clothing, shelter, health, education, the right to work, and the pursuit of happiness including a quality of life that allows for adequate development of human potentialities. Especially in view of the current crisis related to world hunger, we call on Baptists around the world to share generously, follow a life-style of responsible Christian stewardship, and support the development of better food production and distribution systems.

2. The right of all segments of society, including women, youth, the aging, minorities, and the poor, to participate in church and community decision making includes the rights to self-determination and economic and social justice. We call on these segments of society, especially women, to recognize their right and responsibility to be involved in the use of power, and we call on Baptists to open opportu­nities to these segments for full participation in church decision making and to support their full participation in community decision making.

3. The right to maintain cultural identity includes the rights of racial, ethnic, and national groups to maintain their self-determined identities. We affirm the principles set forth in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

4. The right to dissent includes the right to privacy and the right to obey one’s conscience even though it may involve differing with the established order. The responsible exercise of this right keeps social systems from hardening into totalitarian rigidity.

5. The right to personal dignity includes the rights of children, the aging, and the sick to care and dignity, and the rejection of torture and inhumane conditions in places of confinement such as prisons and institutions for the mentally disturbed.

World Peace

As Baptists we acknowledge that peace is the gift of God who establishes peace in the lives of believers and then enables them to share it and extend it. God’s call to his people is not to strife but to peace. Peace begins in the hearts of people of good will whose lives are in union with the Prince of peace. Peace extends to nations and races and systems when people are willing to work for the things that make for peace.

We are encouraged by some contemporary improvements international relations including conferences on arms limitation, control of nuclear weapons, arbitration efforts, and the current detente; yet we deplore the violence and armed conflict persisting in many parts of the world. The forces of greed, economic and political imperialism, aggressive nationalism, cynical betrayals of trust, injustice, and oppression are still at work; and evil passions in men and nations still besiege the cause of world peace.

In the face of world hunger and massive human need on every hand, we call upon governments to abandon the evil acceleration of the fantastically costly armaments race, to turn away from national greed in the sale of armaments, and to cooperate in the removal of economic and political incentives to war.

In the cause of peace, we Baptists pledge ourselves to work with a new sense of urgency for the things that make for peace, remembering the words of Christ, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”

Public Morality

The critical state of public morality has taken on a new sense of urgency in the modern world. It has become far more than just a perennial problem of the past that “will always be with us.” Modern one- world technology and its miracles of transportation and mass communication media increasingly have conspired to transform the immorality of individual persons, communities, and nations, into the immorality of the world. We have learned with dismay that no part of the world is safe from: (a) commercial exploitation of human sexuality; (b) the total secularization of the Lord’s Day as just another workday; (c) the growth of a kind of religious neutrality by government that becomes in fact moral nihilism; (d) the abandonment of the traditional Christian view of marriage and family relationships; (e) the growth of public opinion and even of official public policy that alcoholism and drug addiction are only medical problems, not moral problems; (f) the cancerous growth of gambling and the philosophy of getting something for nothing; (g) the flagrant violation of principles of honesty and integrity by government officials; and a declining respect for the law.

The most critical dimension of the contemporary public morality crisis is the possibility that Christian people will accept the popular belief that the downward spiral of public morality is inevitable and nothing can be done about it. We believe that in Christ all things are possible, and that Christian people as the salt of the earth can and must exert positive influence for a revitalization of Christian morality in the contemporary world.

We call upon Baptist people in all nations to:

1. Launch a worldwide thrust for public morality, beginning in the individual homes of Christian people with a renewed commitment to Christian standards of righteousness and morality;

2. Become more effective Christian citizens (including becoming officeholders of honesty and integrity) committed to working for enactment and effective enforcement of those laws and policies designed to make communities better places in which to live and to rear children;

3. Work for the kind of mass communication media that will bring information and entertainment into the home that is consistent with the legitimate rights and needs of Christian people;

4. Work for laws, public policies, and effective administration designed to eliminate arbitrary treatment of different groups of people on the basis of race, nationality, sex, or creed; and

5. Work individually and with others to make our churches more sensitive to the ways of working effectively for public morality, and for a renewed commitment to relating prayer, Bible study, world missions, and Christian service to the achievement of public morality in our world.

Citations

Original Source Bibliography: Bryant, Cyril E. and Stewart, Debbie, editors. New People for a New World—Through Christ: Official Report of the Thirteenth Congress, Stockholm, Sweden, July 8-13, 1975. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1976.

Original Source Footnote/Endnote: Cyril E. Bryant and Debbie Stewart, eds., New People for a New World—Through Christ: Official Report of the Thirteenth Congress, Stockholm, Sweden, July 8-13, 1975 (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1976), pp. 255-259.

Online Document Full Citation: BWA World Congress Resolution 1975.1 Resolution on Religious Liberty, Human Rights, World Peace and Public Morality; https://www.baptistworld.org/resolutions.

In-text Online Document Citation: (BWA World Congress Resolution 1975.1).

For more information about Baptist World Alliance resolutions, visit BaptistWorld.org/resolutions

Since its formation in 1905, the Baptist World Alliance has networked the global Baptist family to impact the world for Christ with a commitment to strengthen worship, fellowship and unity; lead in mission and evangelism; respond to people in need through aid, relief, and community development; defend religious freedom, human rights, and justice; and advance theological reflection and leadership development.

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