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Convention revives resolution on partial-birth abortion

ST. LOUIS (BP)–In a rarely seen move for the Southern Baptist Convention, a resolution that was declined by the Resolutions Committee was given new life on the convention floor.

After the Resolutions Committee had presented its recommended resolutions, Rick Reeder, a messenger from Southside Baptist Church, Princeton, Ky., asked the convention to reconsider his resolution on partial-birth abortion. The Resolutions Committee had declined to act on the resolution. A vote to reconsider requires a two-thirds vote of the convention messengers.

“There is no question in the minds of our culture or our denomination where Southern Baptists stand on the issue of abortion in general or, partial-birth abortion in particular,” C. Ben Mitchell, a member of the Resolutions Committee from Illinois, said in response.

Mitchell noted the convention recently spoke to the issue, passing a resolution on the practice of partial-birth abortion in 1996. He explained that led the committee to decline to recommend the resolution for action this year.

Robert Lilly, a messenger from Baltimore, urged the convention to adopt the resurrected resolution, saying, “We need to continue to speak on issues like this. If we don’t continue to speak, they won’t get the message.”

Rick Reeder, the resolution’s sponsor, urged the convention not to be distracted by the U.S. response to terrorist activity and overlook the “tragedy perpetuated against the unborn.”

“We should be concerned about the war on terror, but we should not forget the thousands who are being terrorized in the womb,” he said.

Robert Casey, a messenger from Parkview Baptist Church in Gainesville, Fla., and a family physician, also called for support of the resolution.

“I know obstetrics. I have delivered over a thousand babies myself. This practice is inhumane. It is wrong,” Casey said.

The resolution noted the Southern Baptist Convention’s long history affirming the sanctity of human life but lamented the fact that there seemed to have been a “diversion of this tragedy by the tragedy of Sept. 11.” It further urges legislation banning the practice of partial-birth abortion be a “high priority” in the Bush administration, saying, “Now is the time to end this inhumane and tragic practice.”

The resolution was overwhelmingly adopted by the convention.

An attempt to bring up a resolution on Freemasonry and Christianity, by Steve Aubuchon of Fenton, Mo., came up short. The Resolutions Committee had declined to refer the matter to the floor.

Mike Hamlet of South Carolina, representing the Resolutions Committee, expressed appreciation for Aubuchon’s concern for Freemasonry’s perspective on the Christian faith but said the committee felt it unwise to consider the resolution on the floor. Complimenting the SBC’s North American Mission Board for its work on this issue, Hamlet said, “With all due respect, this is not a well-formed resolution. We do not think it is wise to look at something so complex on floor of the convention.”

A vote to bring the resolution up for consideration by the messengers fell short of the required two-thirds majority.

Other resolutions the committee declined to address or that were addressed by adopted resolutions included:

— Speaking against anti-Semitism.

— Support for the nation of Israel and on Israel as the Promised Land.

— The priority of evangelizing people with disabilities.

— And on renaming Easter: Resurrection Day.

James Goforth, a messenger from Malone, N.Y., asked the chair to entertain a resolution commending Heather Mercer and Danya Curry, the two American missionaries held by the Taliban in Afghanistan and freed last November by U.S. forces. Goforth said the national news media was attempting to confuse the issues surrounding the pair’s Christian humanitarian work in Afghanistan.

SBC President James Merritt ruled that Goforth was too late to submit a resolution but noted by the messengers’ applause that Goforth had accomplished his desire.

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  • Dwayne Hastings