Religious liberty is best promoted when church and state remain separate in the manner prescribed by the First Amendment. Separation of church and state does not mean religion is divorced from public life. We openly advocate for sound public policies on the basis of our religious convictions.
But all Americans have freedom to choose any religion or no religion, and no religion gets special treatment under the law.
Baptists have traditionally affirmed that religious liberty is best promoted and preserved when church and state remain separate in the manner prescribed by the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Separation of church and state does not mean that religion is divorced from public life. We openly advocate for sound public policies on the basis of our religious convictions. We rightly acknowledge and reflect in the public schools the central role played by religion in society and history.
Separation of church and state does mean that government must be neutral toward religion, neither advancing nor inhibiting religion through laws, tax support or other means. Consistent with this understanding of neutrality, the BGCT’s Christian Life Commission opposes the use of public funds to fund sectarian religious worship and instruction. The CLC supports separation of church and state as a traditional Baptist distinctive, convinced that it offers the best protection for religious liberty for everyone, believer and non-believer alike. We offer numerous resources that interpret the essential and practical meanings of religious liberty in a variety of contexts.
Religious Liberty Defined
America has reaffirmed its commitment to religious freedom and is again recognizing the vital moral and spiritual role religion plays in both our public and private lives.
We are confronted by two strikingly different views about the proper role of religion in public life.
Our heritage of religious liberty must be reaffirmed. The increasing religious pluralism in our country beckons us to turn this heritage into a legacy. The aspirations of the Founders – that religion should involve a voluntary response and that government should remain neutral toward religion – must be converted into practical reality.
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