by Arielle Del Turco
June 24, 2021
This is part one of a three-part series highlighting significant resolutions passed by the Southern Baptist Convention this year that apply a biblical worldview to critical cultural and political issues.
At the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) largest gathering in over two decades, a resolution was passed condemning atrocities the Chinese Communist Party is currently committing against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. America’s second-largest Christian denomination might seem like an unlikely champion of a non-Christian minority group’s human rights, but that makes the resolution all the more meaningful.
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 passing a resolution, the SBC is collectively agreeing to publicly affirming the statement. Many cultural, political, ethical, and theological questions and challenges are currently facing the SBC. The fact that a resolution on the Uyghur genocide was brought to the forefront is significant.
Around 17,000 “messengers” were sent to the Convention to represent their respective Southern Baptist churches and participate in the votes. Their choice to condemn human rights violations in China is meaningful.
For more on why the Uyghur genocide is an issue Christians should care about and to see the statements the SBC agreed on, read the full text of the resolution, reprinted here:
RESOLUTION 8: ON THE UYGHUR GENOCIDE
WHEREAS, “God created man in his own image” (Gen 1:27), people are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), and “The life…[and] breath of all humanity…is in [God’s] hand (Job 12:10); and
WHEREAS, One of God’s commandments is “Do not murder” (Exodus 20:13); and
WHEREAS, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of [God’s] throne; faithful love and truth go before [Him]” (Psalm 89:14); and
WHEREAS, We are called to “Provide justice for the needy … [to] uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute” (Psalm 82:3) and to “remember those in prison, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily” (Hebrews 13:3); and
WHEREAS, Southern Baptists resolved in 2019 “On Biblical Justice” that “we commit to address injustices through gospel proclamation, by advocating for people who are oppressed and face wrongs against them”; and
WHEREAS, Southern Baptists resolved in 2018 “On Reaffirming The Full Dignity Of Every Human Being” that persecution of religious minorities constitutes a significant challenge which threatens the dignity and worthiness of human beings and likewise resolved that “we affirm the full dignity of every human being of whatever political or legal status or party and denounce rhetoric that diminishes the humanity of anyone”; and
WHEREAS, Credible reporting from human rights journalists and researchers concludes that more than a million Uyghurs, a majority Muslim ethnic group living in Central and East Asia, have been detained in a network of concentration camps in the Xinjiang Province in the People’s Republic of China; and
WHEREAS, Atrocities reported by major media outlets against the Uyghur people by the Communist Party of China include forced abortions, rape, sexual abuse, sterilization, internment in concentration camps, organ harvesting, human trafficking, scientific experimentation, the sale of human hair forcibly taken from those in concentration camps, family separation, forced reeducation of children, forced labor, and torture; and
WHEREAS, The U.S. State Department, Canadian Parliament, UK Parliament, Dutch Parliament, and Lithuanian Parliament have declared the actions of the Chinese Communist Party against the Uyghur people to be a genocide; and
WHEREAS, Southern Baptists stated in 1999 in “Resolution on Halting Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing” that “ethnic cleansing is a crime against humanity in which one ethnic group expels members of other ethnic groups from towns and villages it conquers in order to create an enclave for members of their ethnic group”; and
WHEREAS, In the same resolution in 1999, Southern Baptists stated that “genocide is a crime against humanity in which one group dehumanizes and murders members of another people group—whether national, ethnic, or religious—with the intent to destroy that group completely”; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, June 15–16, 2021, condemn the actions of the Chinese Communist Party against the Uyghur people, and that we stand together with these people against the atrocities committed against them; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call upon the Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Republic of China to cease its program of genocide against the Uyghur people immediately, restore to them their full God-given rights, and put an end to their captivity and systematic persecution and abuse; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we commend the United States Department of State for designating these actions against the Uyghur people as meeting the standard of “genocide”; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we commend the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for their ongoing advocacy for the Uyghur people and for being among the first major organizations to advocate for their cause; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we strongly urge the United States government to continue to take concrete actions with respect to the People’s Republic of China to bring an end to the genocide of the Uyghur People, and work to secure their humane treatment, immediate release from reeducation camps, and religious freedom; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we implore the United States government to prioritize the admission of Uyghurs to this country as refugees, and provide resources for their support and resettlement; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we earnestly pray for the Uyghur people as they suffer under such persecution; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That we earnestly pray for the Christian workers and relief workers who bring the Uyghur people physical aid and the message of hope found in the gospel of Jesus Christ, so they can experience freedom found only in Christ.
This SBC resolution highlights the powerful truth that all people possess inherent dignity because they are created in the image of God. As such, Christians have a responsibility to treat everyone with respect, stand against injustice, and defend those facing oppression or mistreatment.
The resolution quotes Psalm 82:3, which says, “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.” To this end, the SBC rightly adopted the above resolution, thereby condemning injustice and calling for action and prayer on behalf of the downtrodden. May we all commit to do the same.