Recently, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) held its Annual Meeting to elect new leaders, commission missionaries, and issue statements (known as resolutions) on the denomination's view on important issues facing their churches. Among these resolutions were meaningful statements on the Uyghur genocide, the Equality Act, and the Hyde Amendment. These resolutions are important because they reflect the denomination's careful thinking on important political and cultural issues.
Dozens of resolutions are submitted at every annual SBC meeting. Only a handful are accepted by the Resolution Committee and brought to a vote by the messengers of the convention (a messenger is someone designated by a local church to attend the Annual Meeting). When a resolution passes, it means that the representatives of the SBC publicly affirm the statement contained in the resolution.
This year, 15,726 messengers—the most since 1995's annual meeting—passed 10 resolutions. The resolutions ranged from defining the relationship between local churches and the denomination to mourning lives lost during the coronavirus pandemic. Messengers also approved resolutions dealing with current political issues. Three are worth noting:
First, the SBC made the perhaps unexpected move to prioritize and pass a resolution about atrocities against a group of people that are not Southern Baptist, or even Christian. The SBC's eighth resolution addressed the plight of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. The United States government has declared that the Chinese government is perpetrating an ongoing genocide against the Uyghur people through compulsory sterilizations and brutal forced abortions.
Given this tragedy, it is refreshing to see the SBC confront the atrocities against Uyghur Muslims with moral clarity from a biblical perspective. The resolution highlights the Bible's statements on human dignity, noting that "God created man in his own image" (Gen 1:27), and that "The life...[and] breath of all humanity...is in [God's] hand" (Job 12:10). It is because all people are made in the image of God that they are deserving of respect and that when injustices are committed against them, God desires for his people to "uphold the rights of the oppressed" (Psalm 82:3).
The need for justice and advocacy is clear given the tragic genocide against the Uyghur people. Even many Muslim leaders and countries have failed to speak out against the Uyghur genocide. This makes it even more meaningful to see the SBC take a stand on their behalf.
Second, messengers approved a resolution opposing the Equality Act, legislation passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year. If it were to become law, the Equality Act would undermine religious liberty by gutting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and elevating the contested categories of sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under federal law.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, then-candidate Joe Biden promised to make enacting the Equality Act a "top legislative priority." Since his inauguration, President Biden has aggressively supported the legislation, lobbying for it even last week at a "Pride event" at the White House.
Given the president and his political party's strong support for the legislation, Southern Baptists believed it was necessary to go on record in opposition to a bill that would not only threaten their churches, but every American who dissents from the LGBT revolution.
Third, the SBC approved a resolution in favor of upholding the Hyde Amendment, a legislative provision which prevents federal tax dollars from being used to pay for abortions. The Hyde Amendment has been included in every federal spending bill since 1976, with the exception of the Biden administration's $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill. While the amendment has long enjoyed bipartisan support, the Biden administration also did not include it in its recent budget plan. The SBC's resolution urges the administration to reconsider its position and uphold Hyde.
While many churches might shy away from speaking out on controversial issues, the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention sent a clear message at their annual meeting: The gospel impacts all areas of life, including how Christians ought to care for the vulnerable and what the Bible teaches about sexual ethics. May more churches, denominations, and individual Christians follow their lead.