This week the Baptist General Convention of Virginia passed the following resolution:
Inaccurate history threatens religious liberty
Whereas, the Baptist principles of religious liberty and its safeguard, separation of church and state (or government neutrality toward all religions and nonreligion), are well grounded in this nation’s history, and
Whereas, the labors of Virginians, notably Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, James Madison, and the Baptist minister John Leland, were crucial in the historic events that made these two principles part of our nation’s Bill of Rights, and
Whereas, no people, Baptist or otherwise, can remain true to its principles if its knowledge or collective memory of these principles is tampered with, altered, or replaced by a false version of history, and
Whereas, the Religious Liberty Committee of the Baptist General Association of Virginia has concluded that systematic efforts have been under way in recent decades to write and teach versions of American history that minimize and sometimes deny the historic basis of one or both of the principles named above, and
Whereas, resources are available for correcting any such mistaken history, including a 1999 article by Stephen Stookey of Fort Worth, Texas,
Now therefore be it resolved, that the Baptist General Association of Virginia calls upon Virginia Baptists, and all who cherish religious liberty, (1) to redouble their efforts to know and teach the historical foundation and meaning of the two principles named above, (2) to regard it as a threat to the flourishing of religious liberty when any version of our nation’s history minimizes or denies the historical basis of either of these principles, and (3) to be diligent in resisting and correcting any such mistaken version of our history.
At a time when many Baptists have abandonded their own faith heritage, Virginia Baptists are to be highly commended for taking a stand for historical truth, and for remaining faithful to the founding principles of their Baptist forebears.