WASHINGTON (BP)–Contrary to a report casting a cloud over its United Nations status as a non-governmental organization (NGO), the Baptist World Alliance remains optimistic that it will be reaccredited as an NGO, a position it has held with the UN since 1975.
Denton Lotz, general secretary of the BWA, said the BWA has received no official word from the Economic and Social Council (Ecosoc) which is currently considering accreditation of NGOs.
The BWA was alerted of the accreditation concern when a reporter for The Washington Times contacted George Younger, the BWA representative at the United Nations. Younger immediately contacted Hanifa Dahela Mezoui, the chief of the U.N.’s NGO section department of economic and social affairs, but had received no formal response as of May 21.
Younger said the Ecosoc has some concerns about the work of the BWA in certain human rights efforts. “Our operations are transparent,” he told The Times, “and not politically motivated.”
“I suspect they only want more information,” Lotz said. Noting that the first annual award given to NGOs in New York City is named after the first BWA representative there, Eleanor Schnurr, Lotz said, “I would find it very strange and indeed an injustice if the BWA were denied accreditation.”
If that happens, Lotz said, “We would appeal and make our case that we defend religious freedom, combat racism and defend human rights for all peoples everywhere. We do not make political judgments but are concerned about our common humanity and goal of justice, freedom and peace for every nation.”
Lotz also pointed out that the BWA consistently asks governments and leaders to uphold the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. He also noted that leading Baptists such as Billy Graham, Jimmy Carter and Martin Luther King Jr. have spoken to the United Nations and affirmed Baptist concern for religious freedom for all.
“The BWA commitment to defending the principle of religious freedom will continue,” Lotz said. “We will not be muzzled, nor restrain our voice from defending those who are persecuted, no matter their race, country of origin or religion. We are committed because of our faith in the compassion and love of Christ for all humanity to defend those suffering from injustice. We will join with all men and women of good will in defending these principles worldwide.”