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Key resolutions from the 2024 SBC Annual Meeting


On June 11-12, messengers to the 2024 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, voted to adopt eight resolutions, five of which were directly related to ERLC concerns, issues, and legislative priorities. Here is a recap of the ERLC-related resolutions:

Resolution: On Defending Religious Liberty


  • This resolution reaffirms the SBC’s historic commitment to religious liberty and opposition to establishing any state religion, including in the United States. 
  • It recognizes the biblical distinction between the roles of church and government and that true faith cannot be coerced. 
  • The resolution encourages Christians to engage in the public square and pursue elected office to influence government, while respecting the consciences of all people. 
  • It opposes any government coercion of religious belief or abandonment of religious liberty in favor of a state-mandated religion.

This resolution states that the messengers of the 2024 SBC Annual Meeting:

  • Acknowledge that the Bible distinguishes between the roles of the church and government, and true faith cannot be coerced;
  • Recognize that Baptists have historically championed religious liberty and opposed the establishment of a state religion;
  • Reaffirm, as stated in the Baptist Faith and Message, that God has endowed every human with religious liberty, for “God alone is Lord of the conscience” (Article XVII);  that “Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God” (Article XVII);
  • Encourage and support robust Christian engagement in the public square, including individual Christians who pursue elected or appointed office in order to influence government by living out their Christian worldview while advocating Christian morals with respect for the consciences of all people; 
  • Reaffirm the 2023 resolution “On Christ’s Sole Lordship over Every Human Conscience” in its declaration that “we decry any effort which seeks to supplant the sole lordship of Christ over consciences through confusing the separate covenants and responsibilities of the church and the state”;
  • Oppose any effort to establish a state religion of any nation, including the United States of America; 
  • Refute the idea that God has commanded any state to establish any religion or any denomination; 
  • Reject any government coercion or enforcement of religious belief, including blasphemy laws; 
  • Oppose any effort to use the people and the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention to establish Christianity as the state religion of the United States of America;
  • Object to any suggestion that our historic, God-given distinctive of religious liberty should be abandoned in favor of a state-mandated religion. 

See also: Southern Baptists and religious liberty

Resolution: On Just War and the Pursuit of Peace


  • This resolution outlines the criteria of the historic Christian just war tradition, including:
    • just cause, 
    • right authority, 
    • right intention, 
    • last resort, 
    • reasonable chance of success, 
    • discrimination between combatants and civilians, 
    • proportionality, 
    • military necessity, 
    • and post-war justice and conciliation. 
  • It reaffirms the freedom of conscience regarding military service and calls for prayer for those in the armed forces, those in conflict zones, and for leaders to govern righteously and discern wisely, especially in times of war.

This resolution states the messengers:

  • Note and reaffirm that the historic Christian stance on war and peace has traditionally been defined by the just war tradition; 
  • Affirm that war must be fought for a just cause, to defend, vindicate, and restore public order, peace, and justice when they have come under attack;
  • Affirm that war must be fought by right authority, a duly constituted sovereign government; 
  • Affirm that war must be fought with right intention and love for our enemies, truly intending to achieve peace and justice for ourselves, our enemies, and the world; that an otherwise just war may not be used as pretext to fight for glory, profit, revenge, or conquest;  
  • Affirm that war, so far as possible, must be waged only as a last resort and only if there is a reasonable chance for success, though we give allowance for the great uncertainty inherent in such prudential judgments;  
  • Affirm that war must be fought with proper discrimination between combatants and civilians, civilians may not be deliberately targeted for attack, and war is not an excuse for murder or terrorism;  
  • Affirm that war must be fought with proper proportionality and the scale of death and destruction must be proportional to the scale of peace and justice at stake in the conflict;  
  • Affirm that military personnel should adhere to the principle of military necessity and are permitted to use the degree of force necessary to achieve military goals, no more and no less;  
  • Affirm that policymakers’ obligation is not discharged once the fighting stops; that wartime leaders must pursue order, justice, and conciliation in the aftermath of war; that war plans that take no heed of war’s aftermath are fundamentally unjust; that an otherwise just war that fails to consolidate order, justice, and conciliation in its wake is not a fully just war;  
  • Reaffirm the freedom of the conscience and on conscientious objection, that “those who for reasons of religious conviction are opposed to military service should be exempted from forced military conscription” (“Resolution on Conscientious Objectors,” 1969); 
  • Calls for Christians everywhere to pray for our brothers and sisters serving in the armed forces, for their safety and the state of their hearts as they serve; for Christians and non-Christians alike caught in conflict zones or living under threat of political violence, for their safety; for our leaders, that they would discern wisely and govern righteously, especially in times of war; for the world, that God would show mercy and bless us with a just and lasting peace among nations, as far as possible in this sinful world. 

See also: A brief introduction to the just war tradition

Resolution: On Justice and Peace in the Aftermath of the October 7 Attack on Israel


  • Referencing the devastating Oct. 7, 2023, terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas, this resolution condemned the attack, opposed moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas, and rejected calls for Israel to accept a ceasefire without the release of all hostages. 
  • It called for the international community to support Israel in pursuing a just and lasting peace. 
  • The resolution recognized rising antisemitism, varied theological views on Israel and the Church in the SBC, and affirmed God’s love for all people in the region.

This resolution states the messengers:

  • Observe that on Oct. 7, 2023, the nation of Israel was attacked by Hamas, an organization designated by the United States Department of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, which committed unspeakable atrocities such as the murder of 1,200 people, the abduction of 253 people, and the rape, torture, and other cruel and inhumane treatment of countless others including children, women, and the elderly, with nearly half of the hostages being foreign nationals or having multiple citizenships;
  • Note that while no modern nation-state is above reasonable critique, Hamas unequivocally bears responsibility for the atrocities committed and the devastating repercussions that have affected the Jewish people, Palestinians living under the tyranny of this terrorist organization, our Christian brothers and sisters in the region, and all neighboring people; 
  • Note that Hamas’ leadership openly declared that they will repeat such attacks until Israel ceases to exist as a nation;  
  • Recognize that incidents of antisemitism have dramatically increased both domestically and abroad since the terrorist attack on Oct. 7; 
  • State that while theological perspectives on Israel and the Church vary within the Southern Baptist Convention, we are unified in calling current antisemitic attacks against Jewish people especially heinous, as the Jewish people have often been targeted by their neighbors since God called them as his people in the days of Abraham; 
  • Condemn Hamas’ terrorist attacks of Oct. 7 and commits to standing with the Jewish people and those suffering in the region; 
  • Oppose all forms of antisemitism;  
  • Deny assertions of moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas;   
  • Express being appalled by anti-Israel and pro-Hamas activities on university campuses, within professional associations, and in the culture at large; 
  • Commit to supporting biblical solutions to the conflict, advocating for principles of justice, mercy, and humility in all actions taken by Israel in its pursuit of a just peace (Micah 6:8);  
  • Oppose those calling for the nation of Israel to lay down its arms, repudiating any calls for a ceasefire that do not also result in the immediate release of all hostages;  
  • Call for the international community to redouble its efforts to support the nation of Israel toward a just and lasting peace, addressing underlying issues such as terrorism, human rights violations, and regional instability, consistent with biblical calls to defend the oppressed and promote justice, especially among non-combatants and civilians (Ps. 82:3-4; Isa. 1:17);  
  • Recognize the dignity and personhood of all people living in the Middle East and affirm God’s love and offer of salvation to them through Jesus Christ, honoring the difficult ministry of Jewish and Palestinian believers who labor for the gospel as we pray for their protection and ministry;  
  • Encourage Southern Baptists to pray diligently for a peaceful resolution to the war and all affected by warfare, petitioning God for wisdom, protection, and the ultimate blessing of a just and lasting peace among nations (1 Tim. 2:1-2). 

See also: ERLC Partners with SBC Entities and Christian Organizations in ‘Evangelical Statement in Support of Israel’

Resolution: On the Ethical Realities of Reproductive Technologies and the Dignity of the Human Embryo


  • This resolution recognizes the dignity of every human life from fertilization to natural death.
  • It observes that while children are a gift from God, not all reproductive technologies are equally ethical, with in vitro fertilization often involving the destruction or freezing of embryos. 
  • The resolution calls for only utilizing technologies that respect human life at all stages, encouraged adoption including of frozen embryos, and committed to grieving with and praying for couples struggling with infertility.

This resolution states the messengers:

  • Recognize that every human being is made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27-28) and is thus to be respected and protected from the moment of fertilization until natural death, without regard to developmental stage or location; 
  • Recognize that human beings possess an inherent right to life and the opportunity to reach their full developmental maturity (Ex. 20:13); 
  • Recognize that governments are ordained by God to safeguard human dignity and promote human flourishing at all stages of life (Gen. 9:5-6; Rom. 13:1-7); 
  • Observe that biblical creation order portrays the embodied union of husband and wife as the singular normative expression for procreation (Gen. 1:27-28); Infertility affects many married couples who have the good and godly desire to bring children into the world; 
  • Recommend that couples who experience the searing pain of infertility can turn to God, look to Scripture for numerous examples of infertility, and know that their lament is heard by the Lord, who offers compassion and grace to those deeply afflicted by such realities (Gen. 16:116, 25:21; Judges 13:2; 1 Sam.l 1:11; Luke 1:5-13); 
  • Contend that all children are a gift from the Lord regardless of the circumstances of their conception (Ps. 127:3); Though all children are to be fully respected and protected, not all technological means of assisting human reproduction are equally God-honoring or morally justified; 
  • State that Southern Baptists have historically affirmed the value of every human life and opposed the use of technology that disregards the sanctity of human life; 
  • Observe that the in vitro fertilization process routinely creates more embryos than can reasonably be implanted, thus resulting in the continued freezing, stockpiling, and ultimate destruction of human embryos, some of which may also be subjected to medical experimentation; 
  • Point out that in vitro fertilization most often engages in the destruction of embryonic human life and increasingly engages in dehumanizing methods for determining suitability for life and genetic sorting, based on notions of genetic fitness and parental preferences; 
  • Note that estimates suggest that between 1 million and 1.5 million human beings are currently stored in cryogenic freezers in an embryonic state throughout the United States, with most unquestionably destined for eventual destruction; 
  • Call on Southern Baptists to reaffirm the unconditional value and right to life of every human being, including those in an embryonic stage, and to only utilize reproductive technologies consistent with that affirmation; 
  • Affirm that all children, no matter the circumstances of their conception, are a gift from God and loved by him; 
  • Call on Southern Baptists to love all of their neighbors in accordance with their God-given dignity as image bearers and to advocate for the government to restrain actions inconsistent with the dignity and value of every human being, which necessarily includes frozen embryonic human beings; 
  • Encourage Southern Baptists to continue to promote adoption as one way God may call upon couples to grow their families and to consider adopting frozen embryos in order to rescue those who are eventually to be destroyed (Prov. 24:11-12); 
  • Commit to grieve alongside couples who have been diagnosed with infertility or are currently struggling to conceive, affirm their godly desire for children, and encourage them to consider the ethical implications of assisted reproductive technologies as they look to God for hope, grace, and wisdom amid suffering; 
  • Commit to pray to our God who hears, sees, and remembers on behalf of those couples struggling with infertility (1 Sam. 1:11-20). 

See also: Ethical and Theological Considerations on IVF from the Southern Baptist Convention

Resolution: On the God-Given Rights and Responsibilities of Parents


  • Affirming that God has entrusted parents with the primary responsibility to raise their children and that the state should support the family, this resolution recognizes that parental rights are not absolute but calls for protecting the freedom of parents to make decisions about their children’s upbringing, education, and healthcare without undue government interference. 
  • It encouraged churches to advocate for policies that strengthen families as the primary institution for nurturing children.

This resolution states the messengers:

  • Recognize that God has created all people in his image, male and female, with inherent dignity and value (Gen. 1:26-28; Ps. 139:13); 
  • Recognize that God has established the family as the first and most foundational institution of society that existed prior to the state, and the relationship between parent and child, whether biological or legal, is a unique bond in society (Gen. 1:27-28; Ps. 24:1); 
  • Recognize that God possesses sovereign authority over all (Ez. 18:4; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2) and has entrusted to parents certain rights and responsibilities as the primary stewards of their children (Deut. 6:6-7; Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4), teaching them “spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth” (Baptist Faith and Message, Article XVIII); 
  • Recognize that God has ordained the state to promote good and restrain evil, thereby cultivating the conditions necessary for the flourishing of children and families which are not defined by arbitrary or subjective moral claims, but by basic moral goods rooted in the character of God (1 Pet. 2:14); 
  • Note that the United States Supreme Court in the 1925 Pierce v. Society of Sisters decision rightly stated that parents have the right “to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control”; 
  • State that parental rights are not absolute, and the state has a compelling interest to intervene in certain situations where children are being abused, neglected, or endangered; 
  • Point out that it is becoming increasingly common for some in the medical, educational, business, and legal sectors to encroach upon and attempt to supersede these God-given rights and responsibilities of parents in the name of autonomy and expressive individualism; 
  • Affirm that parents are the primary stewards of and decision makers for their children, rather than teachers, doctors, or the state; and 
  • Note that we honor God’s good design for the family and the flourishing of children and desire to see a culture that embraces and celebrates the formation of families;   
  • Call upon parents to exercise their rights and responsibilities to make decisions regarding the upbringing of their children, under the authority of God, recognizing that they will be held responsible for their choices (Matt. 25:14-30); 
  • Encourage the state to partner with, rather than act contrary to, the family unit, enacting legislation that protects and upholds parental rights, ensuring that parents have the freedom to make decisions regarding the upbringing, education, and healthcare of their children without undue interference, recognizing that parents are the primary arbiters of a child’s moral and spiritual formation; 
  • Call upon churches, pastors, and all Southern Baptists to advocate for policies and practices that support and strengthen the family unit, recognizing it as the primary institution for the nurturing and upbringing of children. 

See also: The ERLC Supports Parental Rights

Photo credit: BP photos


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