News Articles

SBC sharpens global warming stance

SAN ANTONIO (BP)–Resolutions Committee members were pleased with the overwhelming vote for a resolution on global warming during the June 13 evening session of the SBC annual meeting, even though two sections of the measure were deleted by messengers.

During the convention’s morning session, messengers voted on an amendment to remove part of the proposed resolution suggesting an increase in government funding to produce fact-based information on whether global warming is human-induced and to find energy alternatives.

The vote on the resolution was delayed until the evening session when results of a ballot vote on the amendment that morning were announced.

Messengers approved the other seven resolutions presented by the committee — almost all unanimously — during the morning session.

Messengers approved the amendment to the global warming measure with 60 percent in the majority, it was announced at the start of the second report on resolutions. They then passed the amended resolution with only a small minority in opposition.

The measure encouraged Southern Baptists “to proceed cautiously in the human-induced global warming debate in light of conflicting scientific research.” It also called for public policies that guarantee “an appropriate balance between care for the environment, effects on economics, and impacts on the poor when considering programs to reduce” carbon and other emissions.

Resolutions Committee chairman Gerald Harris told reporters at a news conference he felt “the messengers were enthusiastic in their support of the resolution as it was finally presented. So I’m gratified that we had an overwhelming, positive response to the resolution.”

Harris is editor of The Christian Index, newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and a member of Ephesus Baptist Church in Atlanta.

The committee tried “to strike a balance in the debate” on climate change, said Martha Lawley, a member of First Southern Baptist Church in Worland, Wyo. The members sought “to point out areas where information is still inconclusive,” including “how much of the global warming today is human-induced,” she said.

The impact of policies on the poor was especially important to the committee, “particularly when there is still some question about the amount of the global warming that can be attributed to human causes,” Lawley said.

A resolution renouncing child abusers and churches that protect them was important in clarifying the SBC’s position on the issue, a committee member told reporters.

In what appeared to be a unanimous vote, messengers passed a resolution expressing a “deep level of moral outrage” at child abuse, repudiating those “who commit heinous acts against children” and “individuals, churches, or other religious bodies that cover up, ignore, or otherwise contribute to or condone” such abuse. It called on churches and SBC entities to respond in a “timely and forthright manner” to suspicions or charges of child abuse.

The action followed by two months a report on ABC News “20/20” program that seemed to imply the convention overlooks sexual predators serving as ministers in its cooperating churches. SBC President Frank Page labeled the report as “yellow journalism,” and the Executive Committee described it as misleading.

The committee was aware on “20/20” and in other ways that it had been implied the SBC was “not willing to take a stand on this issue, and that’s not true,” said Al Gilbert, senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C. “[S]o we felt it important for the record that we stand firmly on what should be done without in any way misunderstanding our polity as Southern Baptists.”

In addition to the global warming and child abuse resolutions, messengers approved statements:

— urging pastors to preach on moral issues and to lead congregations to influence the culture.

— calling for individual and corporate repentance by Southern Baptists.

— opposing hate crimes legislation that includes homosexuals and transgendered persons as protected classes.

— reaffirming the SBC’s repudiation of racism on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision.

— expressing gratitude for the faithful support of the Cooperative Program, the SBC’s unified giving plan.

— thanking God and those in the San Antonio area and others who helped with the annual meeting.

All resolutions express the views of the messengers at a particular convention but are not binding on churches and the entities of the SBC.