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Ala. Baptist resolutions include Ten Commandments, war in Iraq

MOBILE, Ala. (BP)–Messengers at the Alabama Baptist Convention in Mobile, Ala., Nov. 18-19 passed a resolution supporting “the recognition of the biblical antecedents of our legal system and the public display of the Ten Commandments” and calling upon “all elected officials to uphold righteousness, acknowledge the biblical foundations of government, and contend for the right of religious expression provided for the American people within the Constitution of the United States of America.”

The resolution also warned “there are forces at work in this nation that, if left unhindered, would execute an agenda to systematically remove references to God from the public domain,” and it noted that “the moral precepts and very words from the Bible have constituted an integral part of the fabric of American legal history.”

Some debate over the resolution occurred, and former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s name was struck from the paragraph noting his support of the Ten Commandments. The new paragraph acknowledged simply that “many of our civic leaders have demonstrated their support for the constitutional rights of Alabamians and Americans to acknowledge the moral foundation of our society as expressed in the Ten Commandments.”

Messengers gathered at Cottage Hill Baptist Church also passed a resolution affirming President Bush, Congress and the armed forces for their leadership in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The resolution acknowledged that “Scripture commands individual Christians to love our enemies, but it also commands civil authorities to restrain evil and to punish evildoers through the power of the sword.” The resolution urged prayer support for those who have lost loved ones in the war and those who are currently helping to rebuild Iraq.

In other action, messengers approved a Cooperative Program base budget of $40,427,480, with the State Board of Missions presenting the same budget as the previous year because gifts from Alabama Baptists for 2003 were projected to fall below expectations, according to SBOM Executive Director Rick Lance.

Joe Godfrey, pastor of First Baptist Church in Pleasant Grove, was re-elected president, as were Henry Cox, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bay Minette, first vice president, and Roger Willmore, pastor of First Baptist Church in Boaz, second vice president. All were unopposed.

The convention theme was “Healthy Leaders, Healthy Churches.”

Among other resolutions adopted by the 1,093 messengers:

— In a resolution supporting the Federal Marriage Amendment and citing the growing number of states beginning to legalize same-sex unions, messengers stated that God ordained marriage to be only between a man and a woman and it is a sin to engage in a homosexual relationship. Messengers called on Congress to pass and states and citizens of the United States to approve the Federal Marriage Amendment, and they called upon church leadership of every denomination to “use wisdom in the determination of marriage rights and selection of leadership to honor God’s law on the sanctity of marriage and the sin of homosexuality.”

The resolution, while citing the recent Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision that struck down sodomy laws, denounced “all mistreatment of any human being due to his or her sexual behavior, sinful or otherwise.” And it called upon Alabama Baptist ministers to “commit to perform only those marriages as defined by the Bible and for churches to elect only those leaders who are in or who support Bible-based relationships.”

— In a resolution on partial-birth abortion, messengers noted that it is a gruesome procedure that intentionally terminates the life of a mature baby that could live outside the mother’s womb. They expressed thanksgiving and deep appreciation to the U.S. House and Senate for passing the partial-birth abortion ban and commended President Bush for his signature on the bill and his stance against abortion. Messengers resolved to pray for the families of those who have been affected by all acts of abortion.

— A resolution expressing thanksgiving for the ministry and dedication of bivocational ministers noted that bivocational pastors serve in 51 percent of the approximately 3,200 Alabama Baptist churches, and the need for bivocational ministers is great in the state. Messengers encouraged pastors to preach specifically on “Calling Out the Called” and to provide increased opportunities for lay involvement in ministry within the churches.

— A resolution on gambling warned that continued efforts are being made to legalize various forms of gambling in Alabama despite the state’s founding fathers having placed a constitutional ban on a state lottery and similar games of chance. The resolution called gambling a regressive form of taxation and unstable source of revenue that is contrary to the purpose of state government and increases all forms of crime. Messengers reaffirmed the historic position of Alabama Baptists in opposition to any attempts to change the state’s constitutional ban on a state operated lottery or casino gambling.

Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 16-17 at the Montgomery Civic Center.

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