June 23, 1999

Resolutions target Clinton,
gays, ethnic cleansing

___By Trennis Henderson
___Arkansas Baptist Newsmagazine
___ATLANTA--Global evangelism, ethnic cleansing and a presidential proclamation on Gay and Lesbian Pride Month captured the attention of Southern Baptist Convention messengers, who adopted 14 resolutions during their 1999 annual meeting June 15-16 in Atlanta.
___In a pattern that has grown familiar in recent years, California pastor Wiley Drake
WILEY DRAKE (left) talks with Al Jackson, chairman of the resolutions committee, at a news conference held by the resolutions committee. Drake, a California pastor, became a regular fixture at the microphone during last week's SBC annual meeting, proposing nine resolutions, four motions and three amendments to resolutions. (Photo by the Alabama Baptist
upstaged much of the focus on resolutions. During the two-day meeting, Drake proposed nine resolutions as well as four motions and three amendments to resolutions.
___Drake, who leaped to SBC prominence in 1996 with a call to boycott the Walt Disney Co., has become an outspoken fixture at each annual meeting since then.
___Although the SBC resolutions committee addressed only two of the proposals Drake submitted, two of three amendments he proposed on the floor of the convention were approved by messengers.
___Discussing his frequent trips to the microphone, Drake said: "Obviously, I'm a different bird. If I were to say, 'I'm humble and I don't enjoy the press at all,' that would be lying. Do I enjoy it? Absolutely. That's my personality."
___Among the topics addressed by Drake was President Clinton's recent proclamation of June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. In the resolution finally presented by the resolutions committee, messengers urged Clinton to rescind his action.
___The resolution cites "our love for our president and our love for people enslaved in sins of all types, including homosexual sins." Then it says: "Our love for our president compels us to rebuke him and publicly to deplore his most public endorsement of that which is contrary to the word of God."
___The resolution claims forgiveness through Christ "includes forgiveness of and freedom from homosexuality." It adds, "We publicly denounce and deplore all violent attacks upon homosexuals."
___An attempt by another messenger to delete the phrase expressing "our abhorrence of the teaching that God hates any person on account of an immoral lifestyle" was rejected by a show-of-ballots vote.
___Drake offered an amendment calling for Clinton "to rescind his appointment of an openly professed homosexual as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg."
___Resolutions committee Chairman Al Jackson responded that Drake had submitted a proposed resolution on that topic, which the committee had declined to recommend. The proposed amendment was "not germane to the primary focus of the resolution before us," Jackson added.
___Following a show-of-ballots vote that was determined too close to call, messengers approved Drake's amendment on a ballot vote of 2,316 to 1,313. The amended resolution then was approved.
___A resolution calling for an end to genocide and ethnic cleansing was approved without debate.
___Moments later, Norman Cates, a military veteran from Ocala, Fla., asked messengers to reconsider the resolution.
___Focusing on language calling for "the United States Congress, NATO, the United Nations and other multinational bodies to take immediate action to bring an end to those regimes which are guilty of crimes against humanity," Cates said he was "really shocked" to realize what he had voted for.
___"This body of love should not be recommending that people attack and kill each other," he declared.
___Resolutions committee member Greg DeMarco of New Mexico responded that the resolution addressed "who is capable of protecting those who need protection" from genocide. In a show-of-ballots vote, messengers defeated the amendment.
___The resolution on the priority of global evangelism and missions affirmed support for Southern Baptists' Cooperative Program giving plan, which will celebrate its 75th anniversary next year. Committee Chairman Jackson emphasized that the resolution "represents the heart and soul and desire of this convention."
___Other topics addressed by messengers included school violence, the free exercise of religion and the changelessness of God.
___"Recent tragic events have highlighted the problem of school violence," the school-violence resolution notes. Many Christian students and teachers have stood for their faith "even to the point of death," it adds, calling on "all Christians to pray for an end to violence in our schools and work toward a return to Christian values within our educational system."
___Declaring he was "in full support" of the resolution, Drake offered an amendment calling for changes to a proposed juvenile crime bill currently before Congress. The wording was from another of his proposals the resolutions committee had declined to recommend.
___"Our resolutions committee wants to urge you to stay with the original resolution," said committee member Paul Kaneshiro of Hawaii. "The emphasis is to commend the students and teachers who publicly stood for Christ even in the midst of violence in their schools. We want to highlight those who were martyred for their faith" and keep the resolution "positive in honor of those who stood for Christ."
___Messengers responded by rejecting Drake's amendment and approving the committee's proposal.
___The resolution on "public discourse and the free exercise of religion" expressed concern about "the moral direction of American culture" and "the moral climate in which our nation's young people are being nurtured."
___Citing "the duty of government to accommodate itself to the free exercise of religion to the greatest practical extent," the statement calls on Southern Baptists "to work toward policies and programs in our public schools which provide greater opportunities for religious instruction.
___Drake offered an amendment calling for changes to land-use laws that "are restricting churches ... and restricting evangelism." He added he had been threatened with jail over a land-use case involving his congregation.
___"We may make you sleep with a microphone for the rest of your life," SBC President Paige Patterson quipped in response, "but we won't put you in jail."
___Resolutions committee member Gerald Harris of Georgia said the committee shares Drake's concerns, but "we believe we have addressed the concerns he has raised."
___"This particular amendment is good, because cities are slowly and subtly encroaching upon the rights of churches and other ministries," said Timothy Faber of Missouri. "On the real heart of the matter, we've been silent, and we've been silent too long. Silence is the same thing as approval. We need to take a stand and say something."
___After further discussion, messengers adopted both the amendment and the amended resolution.
___Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., proposed the resolution on "the power, knowledge and changelessness of God."
___"The biblical doctrine of God is the first and central axiom of Christian theology," the statement says, warning about "those who would revise the church's historic doctrine of God" and "would deny or diminish God's omnipotence, omniscience and immutability."
___The resolution calls on "all Christians to confess the living God of the Bible." It was approved without debate.
___Other resolutions adopted by messengers include:
___ Opposing a recent article in the American Psychological Association's Psychological Bulletin which implies "that 'adult-child sex' may not be harmful and may be positive for so-called 'willing' children." The resolution also affirmed the APA for issuing a statement opposing such practices.
___ Opposing "human embryonic and stem cell research," citing "vigorous opposition to the destruction of innocent human life, including the destruction of human embryos."
___ Opposing the use of the "Channel One Network" in schools, noting that network advertising includes promotion of objectionable movies, magazines and music groups.
___ Encouraging parents "to communicate clear standards of biblical morality to their children," including monitoring TV viewing and movie and video selections.
___ Encouraging "all Southern Baptists to pray earnestly for our elected officials." An amendment approved by messengers called on Christians "to put feet to their prayers and exercise their right to vote."
___ Urging all Southern Baptist churches to support "educational programs that follow biblical principles, whether they are implemented in Christian, private, public or home schools."
___ Affirming the influence of "godly public school personnel" on students.
___ Expressing appreciation to convention leaders and hosts who helped plan and lead the annual meeting.

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