EDITOR’S NOTE: The full text of the resolutions adopted during the 2015 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting follows the story.
Columbus, Ohio—Messengers to the 2015 Southern Baptist Convention adopted nine resolutions—some on culturally divisive issues—with almost no opposition.
All the resolutions offered June 16 at the SBC’s meeting gained passage by unanimous or nearly unanimous votes. The messengers affirmed biblically based stances on such topics as same-sex marriage, racial reconciliation and the sanctity of human life, as well as religious persecution and pornography. Approved resolutions also called for spiritual awakening and celebrated the 90th anniversary of the Cooperative Program.
Prior to the convention, the Resolutions Committee received only four resolutions, an unusually small number. As a result, the committee initiated more resolutions than normal, but committee chairman Steve Gaines said finding topics proved no problem.
“There are so many pressing issues morally and spiritually in our nation right now, it really didn’t take long to figure that out,” Gaines said at a news conference after the committee’s report.
He illustrated for reporters what he meant by pointing to a few of the resolutions.
“When it comes to our nation, when you look back at just the last 12 to 18 months, racial reconciliation needs to be at the top of our list,” said Gaines, senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., a suburb of Memphis. “All of us who have children or grandchildren are very concerned about pornography. All of us are concerned about abortion and not just abortion but the sanctity of life on both ends.”
He added, “It’s not hard in light of what’s going on with (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and what’s going on in North Korea and other places to make resolutions” on religious persecution.
The approved resolutions:
– urged the Supreme Court in its decision this summer to affirm the right of citizens to limit marriage to a male-female union, reasserted the SBC’s belief in the biblical view of marriage no matter how the justices rule and called for religious freedom for individuals and organizations who conscientiously object to same-sex marriage.
– called for SBC churches and entities to work toward racial and ethnic diversity in their leaders and encouraged Southern Baptists to be “faithful ambassadors of reconciliation.”
– affirmed the sanctity of human life “at all stages of development” and exhorted Southern Baptists to seek “the repeal of unjust laws and inhumane practices that degrade human life.”
– denounced all religious persecution and called for Southern Baptists to pray for persecuted Christians during personal times and corporate worship.
– appealed to the North Korean government to respect human rights and urged the U.S. government to pressure North Korea to recognize the religious freedom of its citizens.
– expressed grief over the destructive impact of pornography and affirmed the power of the Gospel of Jesus to deliver those who have committed sexual immorality.
– pledged a commitment by Southern Baptists to seek God and to pray that He would bring revival.
– expressed gratitude to God upon the 90th anniversary of the Cooperative Program for His leadership in its establishment and encouraged Southern Baptist churches to consider increases in their giving through it.
– thanked God and all those who helped with this year’s meeting.
In presenting the resolutions to the messengers, the committee “knew that we were speaking on very important issues that we are facing in our culture and that I as a pastor think about that every time I preach,” Gaines said.
“We want to speak the truth, but we always want to do it in love and redemption,” he told reporters. “And we are not in any way angry with anybody. We love everybody. But when you love the Lord, you have to say what the Bible says.”
Messengers approved amendments to three of the resolutions presented by the committee. All those changes were welcomed by the committee as friendly amendments.
Joining Gaines on the Resolutions Committee were Berta Delgado-Young, communications editor and member, Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas; Jason Duesing, member of Antioch Bible Baptist Church, Gladstone, Mo., and provost, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Mo.; Eric Geiger, teaching pastor, New Vision Baptist Church, Murfreesboro, Tenn., and a vice president of LifeWay Christian Resources, Nashville; Matthew Hall, member, Clifton Baptist Church, Louisville, and vice president for academic services, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Steven Lee, lead pastor, Redeemer City Church, Washington, D.C.; Kathy Litton, member, First Baptist Church North Mobile, Saraland, Ala., and leader of ministry to pastors’ wives, North American Mission Board; Stephen Rummage, pastor, Bell Shoals Baptist Church, Brandon, Fla.; Rolland Slade, pastor, Meridian Southern Baptist Church, El Cajon, Calif.; and Jay Shell, member, West Baptist Church, Batesville, Ark.
Full text of resolutions follows.
RESOLUTION 1: ON APPRECIATION
WHEREAS, The messengers to the 158th session of the Southern Baptist Convention have enjoyed a time of worship, encouragement, and fellowship in the Lord Jesus Christ; and
WHEREAS, We acknowledge God’s providence in all these blessings; and
WHEREAS, We also acknowledge the kind hospitality of the people of Columbus, Ohio; and
WHEREAS, We further acknowledge our local Southern Baptist churches, associations, the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio, SBC committees, and volunteers of the Columbus area who have worked so diligently to make our stay a pleasant one; and
WHEREAS, We especially acknowledge the Lord’s grace in enabling our president, officers, various committees, musicians, and other platform personnel to conduct the affairs of this Convention with dignity and a Christ-like spirit; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Columbus, Ohio, June 16–17, 2015, express our profound gratitude to the Lord and to all those He has used to bring about an annual meeting characterized by grace, evangelism, worship, encouragement, cooperation, and purpose.
RESOLUTION 2: ON THE NINETIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE COOPERATIVE PROGRAM
WHEREAS, The Southern Baptist Convention was created in 1845 “for the purpose of eliciting, combining, and directing the energies of the Baptist denomination of Christians, for the propagation of the Gospel”; and
WHEREAS, Through the Convention’s first eighty years, prior to the establishment of the Cooperative Program, its reach expanded to include cooperating churches in seventeen states and the District of Columbia and the financial support for five boards and numerous ministries; and
WHEREAS, The “Cooperative Program of Southern Baptists” was proposed and established in 1925 as a financial channel of cooperation between the state conventions and the SBC, making it possible for churches to support the missionary, education, and benevolent work in their state convention and the SBC, and was viewed as “the best and most practical way of meeting our obligations and providing for the ongoing of all our enterprises”; and
WHEREAS, During the remainder of the twentieth century, Cooperative Program giving from the churches helped fuel an aggressive global vision through the appointment and deployment of more than 4,800 overseas field personnel by the year 2000 and, according to the final report of the Convention’s Bold Mission Thrust initiative, more than 206,500 reported short-term overseas volunteers who participated in partnership missions projects; and
WHEREAS, During this same seventy-five year period, the Convention strengthened its home base through effective evangelistic and church planting efforts across the United States, enjoying, by century’s end, cooperation and support from churches in all fifty states and several United States territories, organized into forty-two state and regional cooperating conventions and worshipping in more than one hundred languages in North America; and
WHEREAS, Since the turn of the twenty-first century, the cooperating state Baptist conventions have continued to serve the ministry needs of the churches in their respective states while simultaneously forwarding, often sacrificially, a larger portion of Cooperative Program funds they received from their churches (from 35.86 percent in 2000 to 37.80 percent in 2014); and
WHEREAS, The SBC ministries funded through the Cooperative Program have continued to thrive since the turn of the twenty-first century, sustaining what may be history’s largest fully-funded evangelical overseas missions force; continuing to expand its North American church planting network; addressing social, moral, and religious liberty concerns domestically and globally; and supporting a thriving theological higher education enterprise with more than 18,000 students currently enrolled through the Convention’s six seminaries; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Columbus, Ohio, June 16–17, 2015, on the occasion of the ninetieth anniversary of the Cooperative Program, express gratitude to God for His providential guidance in the creation of the Cooperative Program and for His multiplied blessings through this missions support enterprise; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we reaffirm the 2010 SBC action calling Southern Baptists to “continue to honor and affirm the Cooperative Program as the most effective (financial) means of mobilizing our churches and extending our outreach,” while also acknowledging and affirming the value of other Great Commission Giving from the churches; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we celebrate each Southern Baptist congregation that, in addition to its own congregation’s other missions activities, supports the missions and ministries of the Convention by its generous giving through the Cooperative Program; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That we encourage all Southern Baptist churches prayerfully to consider increasing their support for the time-honored giving channel of the Cooperative Program to help push back lostness across our nation and around the world.
RESOLUTION 3: ON REVIVAL AND SPIRITUAL AWAKENING
WHEREAS, God is a God of life, having given birth to all life throughout the universe in Creation, and having breathed the breath of life into the first man, Adam (Genesis 2:7); and
WHEREAS, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is referred to as the Son of God who “was in the beginning with God, (and) all things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being, (and) in Him was life, and the life was the Light of men” (John 1:2–4); and
WHEREAS, Regarding the Holy Spirit, the Apostle John quotes Jesus as saying, “It is the Spirit who gives life” (John 6:63); and the Apostle Paul affirms that “The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6); and that the Old Covenant ends in death, but under the New Covenant the Spirit gives life to those who are born again (2 Corinthians 3:6); and
WHEREAS, The people of God in the Old Testament from time to time experienced periods of rebellion against God and His divine will for them, prompting Him to discipline them, sometimes severely, which often led to them turning to Him in repentance, prayer, and renewed obedience, at which time His glory would once again fill the house of God and His people would be endued and infused with fresh life from heaven; and
WHEREAS, The Church itself was birthed on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) with the baptism of the Holy Spirit that filled the disciples with supernatural power, prompting their desire to share the Gospel boldly and three thousand new believers were ushered into God’s Kingdom by means of regeneration on that great day; and
WHEREAS, God has manifested Himself among His people in days gone by in seasons of refreshing, revival, and spiritual awakening, such as the days of The Evangelical Awakening in Britain (1735–1791), The First Great Awakening in America (1726–1770), The Second Great Awakening in America (1787–1843), The Layman’s Prayer Revival (1857–1859), The Global Awakening (1901–1910), and The Jesus Movement in America (late 1960s to early 1970s); and
WHEREAS, Though some parts of the body of Christ have experienced “waves” of spiritual awakening since the mid-1970s, the overall “tide of revival” in America has been “out” for four decades, while the Church and our culture have been drifting further and further into a moral and spiritual state of rebellion and corruption; and
WHEREAS, Our Southern Baptist Convention has been in a state of steady decline in baptisms for the past fifteen years (since 2000); and
WHEREAS, Our current Southern Baptist President, Ronnie Floyd, has made a comprehensive and clarion call “PLEADING WITH SOUTHERN BAPTISTS To Humbly Come Together Before God in Clear Agreement, Visible Union, and in Extraordinary Prayer for the Next Great Awakening and for the World to Be Reached for Christ”; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Columbus, Ohio, June 16–17, 2015, do commit to dedicate and consecrate ourselves afresh to seek the Lord God with our whole hearts, through repentance of our own sins, and also crying out to God regarding the sins of our nation; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we engage in faithful and fervent prayer for the spiritual healing of our churches, our Convention, and our nation; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That we faithfully and fervently plead with our great God to open the windows of heaven and come down among His people with a fresh filling of His Spirit that His Name will be glorified throughout our nation and the nations, and that His people will be refreshed with an outpouring of His love and holiness, resulting in renewed zeal to share the Gospel of Jesus with lost people for the purpose of winning them to faith in Christ and discipling them in such a way that they will in turn win others to Christ.
RESOLUTION 4: ON RACIAL RECONCILIATION
WHEREAS, The Scriptures teach that God has created all men and women in His image (Genesis 1:27) and has made from one man and one woman all peoples to live on the earth (Genesis 3:20; Acts 17:26); and
WHEREAS, God loves the world (John 3:16), sending Jesus to die for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2), and, in Christ, is reconciling to Himself people from every tribe, tongue, and nation (Revelation 5:9); and
WHEREAS, Our justification before God is based on faith in Christ alone and not in our ethnicity (Galatians 3:27–28); and
WHEREAS, God has made believers one in Christ, clothed in the righteousness of Christ, and uniquely qualified to stand together in faith (Ephesians 2:15–16); and
WHEREAS, The Lord has given His people the mission of making disciples from every nation (Matthew 28:19); and
WHEREAS, Racism is sin because it disregards the image of God in all people and denies the truth of the Gospel that believers are all one in Him; and
WHEREAS, In 1995, the Southern Baptist Convention publically repented of its own complicity in the sin of racism that has divided both the body of Christ and the broader culture; and
WHEREAS, We grieve over the continued presence of racism and the recent escalation of racial tension in our nation; and
WHEREAS, The Southern Baptist Convention has taken numerous steps to enlist qualified individuals of all races and ethnicities for leadership roles; and
WHEREAS, Southern Baptists, in both our congregations and entities, increasingly reflect the racial and ethnic diversity in our communities and nation; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Columbus, Ohio, June 16–17, 2015, rededicate ourselves to the holy responsibility and privilege of loving and discipling people of all races and ethnicities in our communities; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we urge churches to demonstrate their heart for racial reconciliation by seeking to increase racial and ethnic diversity in church staff roles, leadership positions, and church membership; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we urge Southern Baptist entities and Convention committees to make leadership appointments that reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the body of Christ and of the Southern Baptist Convention; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we continually prioritize and monitor our progress in adequately representing the increasing racial and ethnic diversity of our communities in our local congregations and our entities; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That we call on Southern Baptists to be faithful ambassadors of reconciliation in their personal relationships and local communities as they demonstrate the power of the Gospel to reconcile all persons in Christ.
RESOLUTION 5: ON THE CALL TO PUBLIC WITNESS ON MARRIAGE
WHEREAS, God in His divine wisdom created marriage as the covenanted, conjugal union of one man and one woman (Genesis 2:18–24; Matthew 19:4–6; Hebrews 13:4); and
WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith & Message (2000) recognizes the biblical definition of marriage as “the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime,” stating further, “It is God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race”; and
WHEREAS, God ordains government to promote and honor the public good and recognize what is praiseworthy (Romans 13:3–4); and
WHEREAS, The public good requires defining and defending marriage as the covenanted, conjugal union of one man and one woman; and
WHEREAS, Marriage is by nature a public institution that unites man and woman in the common task of bringing forth children; and
WHEREAS, The Supreme Court of the United States will rule in 2015 on whether states shall be required to grant legal recognition as “marriages” to same-sex partnerships; and
WHEREAS, The redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples will continue to weaken the institution of the natural family unit and erode the religious liberty and rights of conscience of all who remain faithful to the idea of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife; and
WHEREAS, The Bible calls us to love our neighbors, including those who disagree with us about the definition of marriage and the public good; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Columbus, Ohio, June 16–17, 2015, prayerfully call on the Supreme Court of the United States to uphold the right of the citizens to define marriage as exclusively the union of one man and one woman; and be it further
RESOLVED, That Southern Baptists recognize that no governing institution has the authority to negate or usurp God’s definition of marriage; and be it further
RESOLVED, No matter how the Supreme Court rules, the Southern Baptist Convention reaffirms its unwavering commitment to its doctrinal and public beliefs concerning marriage; and be it further
RESOLVED, That the religious liberty of individual citizens or institutions should not be infringed as a result of believing or living according to the biblical definition of marriage; and be it further
RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptist Convention calls on Southern Baptists and all Christians to stand firm on the Bible’s witness on the purposes of marriage, among which are to unite man and woman as one flesh and to secure the basis for the flourishing of human civilization; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That Southern Baptists love our neighbors and extend respect in Christ’s name to all people, including those who may disagree with us about the definition of marriage and the public good.
RESOLUTION 6: ON THE SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE
WHEREAS, Biblical revelation clearly and consistently affirms that human life is formed by God in His image and is therefore worthy of honor and dignity (Genesis 1:27; 9:6); and
WHEREAS, God alone is the Author of life and He alone numbers our days, from the moment of conception until natural death (Job 14:5–7; Psalm 39:4); and
WHEREAS, The Bible commands us to honor our parents and the aged (Exodus 20:12; Leviticus 19:32; Ephesians 6:2); and
WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith & Message (2000) affirms that “children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord” and calls us to “speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death”; and
WHEREAS, An estimated fifty-seven million unborn babies have been aborted since the legalization of abortion in 1973 (Roe v. Wade); and
WHEREAS, Legislation or court rulings have effectively legalized physician-assisted suicide in several states and additional states are considering similar action; and
WHEREAS, Recent federal directives seek to compel religious organizations to provide coverage for abortifacient technologies and services; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Columbus, Ohio, June 16–17, 2015, affirm the dignity and sanctity of human life at all stages of development, from conception to natural death; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we reaffirm our repudiation of the genocide of legalized abortion in the United States and call on civil authorities to enact laws that defend the lives of the unborn; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we welcome and commend legislation that ensures that all mothers will be fully informed by medical providers of the life development of their unborn children; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call on our fellow citizens of good will to collaborate with us on behalf of justice, the protection of human life, and the cause of human flourishing; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we encourage Southern Baptists to continue and to expand their local ministries that care for and protect the unborn, the vulnerable, and the aged; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call on Southern Baptist churches and entities to show the love of Christ through appropriate means to those women most vulnerable to the victimization of the abortion industry, and to show grace and mercy to those individuals who grieve with repentance over past abortions; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call on our churches and all believers to care for the elderly among us, to show them honor and dignity, and to prayerfully support and counsel those who are providing end-of-life care for the aged, the terminally ill, and the chronically infirmed; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we commend the efforts of our denominational entities, especially The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, in the defense and protection of human life at every stage; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That we pray and work for the repeal of unjust laws and inhumane practices that degrade human life, all the while looking toward the day when our Lord will make all things new and “Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
RESOLUTION 7: ON PORNOGRAPHY AND SEXUAL PURITY
WHEREAS, God calls His people to holiness and Christ has specifically summoned His followers to sexual purity (Matthew 5:27–28; 1 Thessalonians 4:3–5); and
WHEREAS, Sexual sin robs us of our joy in God and is especially grievous to our souls (1 Corinthians 6:18); and
WHEREAS, Increasing numbers of men and women report their addiction and enslavement to pornography in multiple forms; and
WHEREAS, Pornography has devastated many of our families and churches, leaving countless divorces and broken homes in its wake; and
WHEREAS, The sex industry is exploitative in its very nature, often complicit in the blight of human trafficking, harming all its participants; and
WHEREAS, Increasing numbers of our children have been victimized by this insidious industry, not only through child pornography, but also by the active marketing of pornographic content to young men and women; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Columbus, Ohio, June 16–17, 2015, express our deep grief over the widespread devastation inflicted by the pornography industry in our churches and communities; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we commit ourselves as disciples of Christ to lives of purity in thought, word, and deed; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call on Southern Baptist churches to continue and to expand efforts to teach the whole counsel of God regarding sexual purity, human dignity, biblical gender roles, and the dangers of pornography; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call on government authorities to enact and enforce laws that restrict all forms of pornography, particularly those that include and exploit minors; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we encourage Christian families to exercise deliberate care and concern for instructing our children how to wisely use online resources for good and to show appropriate discernment in protecting our children from harmful influences; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That we commend the good news that Christ is fully able to deliver and restore those who have fallen in sexual sin who look to Him in faith and repentance, and call our churches to foster a culture of grace, mercy, and restoration.
RESOLUTION 8: ON THE PERSECUTED CHURCH WORLDWIDE
WHEREAS, Religious liberty is a principle rooted in Scripture and demonstrated in the Gospel (Daniel 3:16–18; Galatians 5:1); and
WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith & Message (2000) asserts, “The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinion of any kind,” and “A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power”; and
WHEREAS, All individuals are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and therefore deserve to be regarded with dignity and respect; and
WHEREAS, Vast numbers of Christians worldwide are experiencing religious persecution because of their confession of Christ as Lord (2 Timothy 3:12); and
WHEREAS, Multiple thousands of these believers are martyred each year, while countless others are imprisoned, tortured, or otherwise oppressed for activities including possessing a copy of the Scriptures, gathering to worship Jesus Christ, or sharing the Gospel; and
WHEREAS, Faithful followers of Christ worldwide are facing extreme and severe persecution in nations including, but not limited to, North Korea, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iran, Pakistan, Eritrea, Nigeria, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Yemen, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Central African Republic, Qatar, Kenya, Turkmenistan, India, Ethiopia, Egypt, Djibouti, and Myanmar; and
WHEREAS, Governments that persecute Christians and abridge religious freedom invariably are guilty of other human rights abuses as well; and
WHEREAS, Followers of Jesus reflect the character and mission of our Lord by proclaiming liberty to captives and setting free those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18); and
WHEREAS, Baptists, owing much of our heritage first to the women and men of the Radical Reformation, have courageously stood for religious liberty and the exclusivity of salvation in Jesus Christ and were persecuted, many becoming martyrs; and
WHEREAS, Christians living in nations with religious liberty bear a responsibility not only to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters worldwide (2 Timothy 1:8) but also to employ every avenue to advocate justice on their behalf (Amos 5:24; Micah 6:8); now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Columbus, Ohio, June 16–17, 2015, give thanks to God that He has mercifully placed us in a nation that upholds religious liberty, and resolutely oppose and denounce all religious persecution anywhere in the world; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we urge Southern Baptists and all Americans to refrain from international trade, even at the risk of financial loss, with or in nations that practice religious persecution; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we encourage our governmental officials to elevate religious liberty concerns to the highest priority in foreign policy, invoking sanctions against those nations which advocate or tolerate persecution of those with differing religious beliefs; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we gratefully acknowledge and trust that what wicked people intend for evil, God is sovereignly using for good (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28), affirming the message of the ancient theologian Tertullian to persecutors: “The oftener we are mowed down by you, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed”; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That we call for all Southern Baptists to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters continually in our personal prayer times and regularly in our corporate worship services and prayer gatherings, asking that God grant them endurance, deliverance, justice, and souls won to Christ through their faithful and sacrificial witness.
RESOLUTION 9: ON RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN NORTH KOREA
WHEREAS, All individuals are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and therefore deserve to have their physical, emotional, and spiritual integrity respected; and
WHEREAS, God’s people should be committed to break the chains of wickedness, untie the ropes of the yoke, set the oppressed free, tear off every yoke, and care for the prisoner and the mistreated (Isaiah 58:6; Matthew 25:36; Hebrews 13:3); and
WHEREAS, The human rights situation for millions of people in North Korea since the succession of the new leader Kim Jong Un on December 17, 2011, remains among the most severe in the world; and
WHEREAS, in 2014 the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on human rights in North Korea determined that crimes against humanity were taking place in that country, including “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation”; and
WHEREAS, Followers of Jesus Christ and adherents to any faith other than the state-sanctioned cult of personality revolving around the Kim family face extreme persecution against themselves and their family members; and
WHEREAS, Despite the fact that an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 Christians in North Korea remain at grave risk of persecution, underground churches continue to minister to and help North Koreans escape to third country safe havens like the United States and South Korea; and
WHEREAS, The United States Congress passed the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004, reauthorized in 2008 and 2012, to