Resolutions - 2014
Approved at the 2014 Conference of theFellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (July, 2014)
1. True Religious Freedom in the United States and Around the World
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the best controlling principle on religious liberty and is a model to governments everywhere. True religious freedom is realized through a dynamic, generous understanding of the First Amendment’s limitations on government. “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Freedom to embrace and practice our religious beliefs and values without government coercion is a fundamental American principle and human right.
Health mandates are presently proposed that threaten true religious freedom for many. We resolve that religious organizations (not just “houses of worship” but also schools, medical ministries, social service agencies and other programs) should not be coerced into paying for health care benefits, such as for contraceptives and abortifacients, when this requirement forces these organizations to violate their core beliefs.
Increasingly, student groups organized to be distinctively Christian are subject to discrimination on secular campuses.
Genuine religious freedom is violated in other nations in a variety of alarming ways. Doctors are told they must provide abortion services, religious conversions are forbidden and even punishable by death, freedom to evangelize is curtailed, worshippers are not permitted to worship openly, Christian citizens are not able to speak their convictions freely, and more. Anti-blasphemy laws that on the surface may even seem laudable are really instruments to coerce and curtail religious expression or opposition.
We pray to God and beseech the world’s nations (including the United Nations itself) that Article #18 of “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948) be upheld by all nations of the world:
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
We do give thanks to God for the level of religious liberty experienced in the United States in spite of all challenges. We urge our federal government to further the cause of liberty at home and around the world in word and in deed through every good avenue available.
2. Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty
We regard the definition of marriage to be deeply and ultimately a religious issue. We affirm that marriage is intended by God to be a life-long covenant between a man and a woman (Mark 10:5-9).
We resolve that no churches, clergy (whether compensated or serving in a voluntary role as clergy), chaplains, or other individuals fulfilling their gainful employment (whether in the service of the church or in secular vocations) who oppose same-sex marriage should be coerced or punished or treated in any intolerant way whatsoever for expressing their convictions or exercising their freedom of religion on this issue.
3. Prayer, Terrorism and the Persecuted Church
These resolutions come at a time of immense increase in terrorist activity in the Middle East and Africa. Christian communities are among many that are suffering because of terrorism and domestic unrest, including the threat of civil war in Iraq and conflicts in Chad, the Central African Republic and Nigeria.
As our world faces domestic and international terrorism, unjust war and persecution of Christians and people of other faiths, we resolve as churches and as individuals to commit ourselves to regular, specific intercessory prayer for all who are in authority, that we might live peaceable and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness (1 Timothy 1:1-2).
We believe God’s ear is especially turned toward his people in times of persecution (Revelation 6:9-11). We also believe that all who suffer in Jesus’ name are near to the heart of our Lord (Matthew 25:34-40; Acts 7:54-56). We pray especially for the persecuted church throughout the world and will not forget those who suffer because of the name of Christ.
4. Responsible Government Fiscal Policies
“The borrower is servant to the lender.” (Proverbs 22:7)
We express our concern over the federal government’s high deficit spending over the past several years and call on government at all levels to practice prudent fiscal policies.
It is vital that governments, including our own, avoid a careless attitude toward government debt and inflation if they are to act in harmony with the biblical responsibility to rule with integrity and in harmony with the biblical importance of savings.
We call on our nation’s leaders to lead with responsible integrity and to protect the heritage of our children and the assets of its citizens by acting responsibly with respect to the federal deficit, the federal debt and federal money creation.
a. All people are made in the Image of God,
b. Respect for the rule of law is essential in a civil society,
c. Secure borders are the right and need of every nation,
d. Israel was frequently reminded by God that she should show mercy to the immigrant because she, too, was once an oppressed and exploited people,
e. The prophets in Scripture demanded special compassion to the exploited and vulnerable, including the “alien in the land”,
f. Our nation is populated by people from a multitude of cultures and lands, and
g. The presence of undocumented immigrants in this country (and in our churches) is a fact and a complex issue not easily resolved,
(1) We therefore call on our churches to give prayer, thought, discussion and action toward addressing the problem of the undocumented immigrant in a God-honoring way.
(2) We recognize the divisive and controversial nature of this debate and we encourage dialogue in the churches that is respectful, open-minded and solution-focused.
(3) We further call on our churches to be the “reconciling presence of Christ” in the midst of a broken system that creates rancor, resentment, racism, selfishness, fear, exploitation, danger and disregard for law.
(4) We call on our society and elected leaders to rise above political posturing and rancor to work toward a solution on immigration that:
a. Respects the God-given dignity of every person,
b. Rejects the nativism that ignores the love of God for all and our country’s history of immigration and openness to the foreigner, as captured in the words enshrined on the Statue of Liberty,
c. Protects the unity of the immediate family and seeks the best interests of native-born children of undocumented immigrants,
d. Respects the rule of law,
e. Holds employers accountable for ensuring the legal status of workers,
f. Creates secure national borders,
g. Ensures fairness to taxpayers,
h. Develops a generous and fair “guest worker” program,
i. Protects all immigrants from exploitation and violence, and
j. Establishes a pathway toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents or citizens—a pathway that both achieves justice and loves mercy.
We recognize that meaningful solutions to this problem are not easily reached. We also recognize the solutions must come through a determined will to reach them and must not be ignored time after time, year after year.
Link to this page: http://charisfellowship.us/page/resolutions2014?keyy=resolutions2014