2015 – Restoration of Religious Freedom
Independent Baptist Fellowship of North America
Annual Conference, June 16‐18, 2015, Winston‐Salem, NC
“Resolution on the Restoration of Religious Freedom”
Religious freedom is under attack in America today.
Our nation’s founders understood the danger of this form of tyranny. The persecuted Separatists we remember today as the Pilgrims, who came to America in search of religious freedom, first endeavored to escape the persecution of their homeland by setting sail for Holland. The Pilgrims, after secretly having sold and given away all that they could not take with them, made their way to Boston, England in 1607, paid the captain of their ship his expensive fee, boarded the boat in the dark of night, and then were immediately arrested by the king’s officials who were lying in wait for them.
The ship’s captain had taken their money but had betrayed them. The officers ruined their belongings with a search and roughly frisked their persons, both men and women. The goal was to rob the Pilgrims of any valuables they may have been carrying and any dignity they may have possessed. They were paraded into town before a gazing crowd, delivered to the magistrates, and imprisoned for a month in cold and cramped quarters. The following spring these brave men and women tried again with success.
Remembering what these first Americans had endured over many years of similar experiences to obtain their home in the New World, William Bradford spoke of their desire for religious freedom in his Plymouth Plantation: “But these things did not dismay them, though they did sometimes trouble them; for their desires were set on the ways of God and to enjoy His ordinances; but they rested on His providence, and knew Whom they had believed.”
Today, men and women who endeavor in a similar way “to set their desires on the ways of God and to enjoy His ordinances” are threatened once again with dismay and trouble. In order to avoid funding the murder of innocent children in the wombs of their mothers, Christian business owners must win expensive legal battles that take them to the Supreme Court. Should an Air Force general publically voice the faith of Bradford and the Pilgrims in uniform in today’s America, calls for his court‐martial hit the press. The Navy chaplain who counsels sailors against the sin of homosexuality faces discipline from his superiors.
The sermon notes and congregational correspondence of preachers in Houston are subpoenaed by the city’s mayor and leaders. Citizens who compiled over 50,000 signatures there to place repealing the city’s transgender “Bathroom Bill” on the ballot have been denied their opportunity to vote. Shop keepers who happen to read their Bibles and find that people are created male and female, not homosexual, and that men are not female and women are not male, are badgered out of business by crowds like those that once pressed against the house of Lot and his family.
Legislation in states like Indiana, Arkansas, and Louisiana, designed to stem this tsunami of religious persecution, have been met with a tyrannical opposition that has caused even some bold conservatives to flinch. State marriage laws that define the solemn ordinance as a covenant between one man and one woman are threatened before a closely divided Supreme Court. Other state legislatures are considering constitutional amendments that would equate the biblical teaching on marriage with discrimination and that would threaten the tax‐exempt status of ministries committed to teaching this ordinance of God. Our founders understood well that taxation is a tool of tyranny.
Therefore, the Independent Baptist Fellowship of North America, meeting at its annual conference in Winston-Salem, NC, June 16‐18, 2015, resolves to work for the restoration of religious freedom in America. We commit ourselves to pray for “all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Tim. 2:2). We determine to speak to those in authority concerning why their desires should be set on the ways of God and His ordinances in a day that calls evil good and good evil. And if in the will of the Lord, our work and prayer and voice go unheeded by those in authority, we shall stand with courage for truth in the face of persecution from them, troubled but not dismayed, resting on our Lord’s providence, knowing Whom we have believed, whom we confess together to be all creation’s “blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of Lords” (1 Tim. 6:15).