The Southern Baptist Convention is the second largest religious denomination in the United States and the most conservative arm of the Baptist faith. They hold great power in the South, both culturally and politically. Baptists believe that evangelizing is their God-given responsibility and as part of their missionary work they build churches, hospitals and clinics to minister to the needy. They also have very strong convictions about health-related issues pertaining to conception and contraception and use their status to influence legislation.
As stated in the Southern Baptist Convention’s position statements, one of the most important tenets of the Baptist faith is evangelizing, which leads to missionary work building churches in North America, Canada and all over the world. Baptists believe it is their God-given mission to convert the un-Christian, encouraging them “to conform to Christ and His Word.” In addition to churches, their aim is to also build hospitals and clinics as well as “strong social ministries, including medical care, emergency famine relief, water projects and agricultural assistance.” The Baptist Faith and Message statement of 2000 states that, “We should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy, the abused, the aged, the helpless, and the sick. We should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death.”
Sanctity of Life
The Southern Baptist Convention’s website states: “Procreation is a gift from God, a precious trust reserved for marriage. At the moment of conception, a new being enters the universe, a human being, a being created in God's image. This human being deserves our protection, whatever the circumstances of conception.” Baptists are opposed to abortion in any and all forms and have long been leaders in the pro-life movement. In an interview with the "Baptist Press," President of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission Richard Land said: “I won't feel 'good'--in the sense of good with quotation marks around it--until every Southern Baptist is pro-life ... and honors the Baptist Faith and Message commitment to defend 'the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death.'"
Baptists adhere strictly to their interpretation of scripture and believe that the word of the Bible is inerrant. They maintain that procreation is God’s plan for a marriage union, and although they don’t reject the idea of contraception use within the confines of a marriage, they do object to any type of contraception that occurs after conception, such as the Plan B pill that prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. Because they believe life begins at the moment of conception, they equate the Plan B pill with abortion. Baptists are firm in their stance that contraception not be part of any state or federal health-care plan. They use their influence and resources to sway policy, maintaining their right to protect their religious freedoms.
Southern Baptists and Health-Care Legislation
In June of 2013, the Southern Baptist Convention joined forces with U.S. Catholic bishops to issue a joint statement urging Congress to pass the Health Care Conscience Rights Act. This bill would exempt religious non-profits and business owners from having to cover contraception in their employee’s health plans. Southern Baptists and Catholics are the two largest religious denominations in the United States, which gives them a great advantage in influencing politics. “While Catholics and Southern Baptists espouse different theological views, we are united by the belief that Congress must act to help preserve our freedom of religion and conscience,” the statement read. The Rev. William E. Lori, archbishop of Baltimore, and SBC President Russell D. Moore said the bill would “address threats to religious freedom and rights of conscience that have become particularly grave in the field of health care.”
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