RESOLUTIONS WRAP-UP Southern
Baptists speak their mind on
school violence, other issues
By Dwayne Hastings
ATLANTA, June 17--It was evident the rash of recent school shootings was on the minds of
Southern Baptist Convention messengers during their 142nd annual meeting as they gave
overwhelming approval June 16 to resolutions on school violence and the effect of violence
in the media on young people.
Fourteen resolutions were adopted covering a wide range of
issues.Messengers saluted the bold witness of students who came under gunfire in their
schools and remained steadfast in their faith. They approved a resolution commending
students and teachers "who have stood faithfully, courageously and publicly for their
faith in the midst of such violence." The convention's resolutions committee made
their first report during the Wednesday morning session of the June 15-16 annual meeting
in Atlanta and concluded its business during the final evening session.
Messengers also approved a resolution on youth and violence in
the media which cited the proliferation of "horrifically realistic" computer
games, "death metal and shock rock" music and hate-filled Internet sites
available to young people. The resolution also identified television as a culprit in the
increase in violent behavior among young people, citing a study recently released by the
American Psychiatric Association that said exposure to television violence is tied to
aggressive behavior in children, as well as "desensitization to anti-social
The resolution expressed "outrage with an entertainment industry which promotes and
glorifies violence, sexual promiscuity and other forms of immorality," calling for
the industry to "exercise restraint" in its depiction of violence and immoral
conduct. Southern Baptists were encouraged to "change the channel" on their own
viewing habits of "violent and destructive entertainment" and to pass along to
their children "clear standards of biblical morality." The resolution also urged
Christians to seek to minister to youngsters "who are at risk and evidence
Messengers took aim at a nationwide in-school cable network that
is broadcast to children in thousands of schools across the nation each school day.
Calling the Channel One Network an "unfortunate and erroneous educational
strategy," the resolution criticized the arrangement whereby the network provides
televisions to classrooms for the privilege of broadcasting a daily 12-minute television
program for students in grades six through 12. The network, seen by some 8 million
students daily, offers reviews of movies, commentary by youth anchorpersons and
advertising directed to the youth market.
"The use of the classroom for advertisement confers
legitimacy on and is a tacit endorsement of the products, movies, programs and music
advertised on the channel," the resolution said, further bemoaning the use of
classroom time to view the channel. The resolution urged parents to shield their children
from the "advertising assault of the network" and called on school
administrators and community leaders to remove the network from their schools. The
convention spotlighted "a climate of growing and pervasive hostility toward religion
in the media, the entertainment industry, the courts, the political system and the system
of public education" in adopting a resolution on public discourse and the free
exercise of religion.
"It is the duty of government to accommodate itself to the free exercise of
religion," the resolution stated. It called for Southern Baptists to seek "to
reverse the trend of hostility toward religion" by working to open the public square
for "the expression of deeply held religious beliefs." The resolution was
amended by adding a section critical of the growing imposition of land use restrictions on
churches by local government.
Messengers lamented the decision by fellow Southern Baptist and
U.S. President Bill Clinton in declaring June 1999 as "Gay and Lesbian Pride
Month." The resolution called the White House pronouncement "an offense to ...
[the] sensibilities and an affront to ... [the] religious heritage and convictions"
of millions of Americans. The convention also acted with favor on an amendment to the
resolution on the gay pride proclamation, voting 2,316 to 1,313 to call for the president
"to rescind his appointment of an openly professed homosexual as U.S. ambassador to
Luxembourg." Clinton appointed businessman Frank Hormel to the post during the
Memorial Day recess of Congress June 4.
With news reports detailing the discovery in Kosovo of mass
graves allegedly containing the bodies of victims of Serbian ethnic cleansing, messengers
endorsed a resolution to add their voice to those around the world in abhorring the
atrocities. The resolution declared "abhorrence of those governments and militant
groups which support and commit such malicious violence." The resolution called for
"immediate action" against regimes that are guilty of such crimes and promised
support "for groups and agencies working to bring peace and alleviate suffering among
the victims of genocide and ethnic cleansing." Messengers rejected a motion by Norman
Cates, Ocala, Fla., to reconsider their vote on the resolution.
Messengers expressed concern with a recent report from the
American Psychological Association that suggested "adult-child sex" might be a
positive experience for "willing" children. Calling such behavior "a
particularly heinous assault on the dignity of children," the resolution said
government officials should "reject and condemn" any thought that sexual
relations between adults and children are anything but "abusive, destructive,
exploitive, reprehensible and punishable by law." The resolution called on Southern
Baptists to work to ensure that children are not at risk for sexual abuse and encouraged
victims of abuse "to seek appropriate spiritual counseling" to aid them in their
Messengers looked to the Apostle Paul's instruction to pray for
government leaders in 1 Timothy 2:1-3 in accepting a resolution that noted "a
deficiency of biblical values" among some elected officials. The resolution said the
lack of trust in God among leaders of the Old Testament nation of Israel contributed to
the downfall of that nation, noting that "our nation desperately needs to turn back
to God." The resolution as amended on the convention floor encouraged Christians
"to put feet to their prayers" and register to vote. The convention criticized a
recent decision by the National Bioethics Advisory Commission to remove the ban on public
funding of human embryo research, saying the procedure often leads to "the
destruction of innocent human life." It expressed hope that human stem cell research
may be on the verge of a breakthrough that will allow the use of adult stem cells instead
of embryonic cells for the treatment of disease.
In the resolution, messengers affirmed the Bible's teaching that
man is made in the image and likeness of God, saying the effort to remove the ban on
funding was based on a "a crass utilitarian ethic." Messengers approved without
debate a resolution that affirmed "the biblical teaching concerning the omnipotence,
omniscience and immutability of God." The resolution noted these biblical
affirmations were under increasing attack "by those who would revise the church's
historic doctrine of God."
"All across the world theologians are beginning to question
the immutability, the changeless of God," explained SBC President Paige Patterson. He
noted there are those who believe that God is "surprised" at things that occur
in the world. Patterson said the resolution would clearly underscore Southern Baptists'
embrace of the orthodox view of the power, knowledge and changelessness of God. Southern
Baptists' "faithful support" of the Cooperative Program and mission offerings
were commended in a resolution. The resolution noted the upcoming 75th anniversary of the
Cooperative Program and urged SBC churches to increase missions giving to match a $750
million goal set by convention leadership. The resolution, which restated the priority of
global evangelism and missions, noted the Cooperative Program had received record gifts
for the last six consecutive years.
Other resolutions approved by the convention were:
A commendation to Lifeway Christian Resources for its development of curricula designed
"to teach children and youth from a biblical perspective." The resolution also
asked Southern Baptist churches to explore ways they can support educational programs
based on biblical principles.
-- An affirmation of Christian schoolteachers and personnel, noting these individuals
often serve in areas where they are the only adult witnesses of Jesus Christ and his
Of 29 resolutions submitted by messengers, the resolutions committee reported out 13
resolutions, combining several on similar subjects. Messengers also received and approved
the customary resolution thanking the convention's host city for its "gracious
Topics proposed in resolutions but not proposed to the convention included:
-- Poverty and the Southern Baptist Convention World Hunger Fund.
-- Autonomy of the local church.
-- Prayer in school.
-- The New Age movement.
-- Organ donation.
-- The renaming of Easter.
-- Reasonable evangelism to all persons.
-- Request to put God, prayer and the Bible back in school.
According to SBC bylaws, the Resolutions Committee is charged
with preparing and submitting resolutions which "the Committee deems appropriate for
adoption" and to report to the SBC "on all matters submitted to it by the
Convention." Copies of proposed resolutions are accepted by the committee up to 30
days before the convention meeting, according to the bylaws. As directed by convention
bylaws, resolutions received on the first morning of the convention are sent to the
Resolutions Committee for review. The committee is free to recommend resolutions to the
full convention for consideration as submitted or as revised by the committee. The
committee also may decline to act on any resolution.
The committee was chaired by Al Jackson of Alabama. Other members
were Gerald Harrisof Georgia, Paul Kaneshiro of Hawaii, Pat Pajak of Illinois, Tim Boyd of
Kansas, Ralph Justice of North Carolina, Greg DeMarco of New Mexico, Bobbie Patray of
Tennessee, John Mark Caton of Texas, and Howell Burkhead of Texas.
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