The Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission approved a statement condemning “evil actions and brutal oppression” by Islamic State jihadists, including persecution of people targeted for their religious beliefs.
The statement, which commissioners unanimously approved prior to the Baptist General Convention of Texas Execution Board meeting Sept. 29-30 sessions, urged churches to pray for peace in Iraq and Syria, an end to persecution of ethnic and religious minorities, and wisdom for national and international leaders.
The plight of ‘brothers and sisters in Christ’
The commission expressed concern for all victims of the Islamic State—also known as ISIS or ISIL—while specifically noting the plight of “brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Commission Chair Michael Evans viewed the statement as a unifying expression that reflects Texas Baptists’ “spirit of concern for God’s people around the world.”
“It was important for the commission to take a stand against this group and its evil acts,” said Evans, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield. “For the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission to be quiet about something as heinous as this group and its actions would be skirting our responsibility to speak to Texas Baptists.”
The full statement says: “The members of the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission are heartbroken as we watch the evil actions and brutal oppression by the Islamic State destroying the lives of hundreds of thousands of people from many religious and ethnic minority groups, including our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Continue efforts to protect the innocent
“We call on our national leaders and the international community to continue efforts to protect the lives of these innocent victims, many of whom are being targeted for their religious beliefs.
“We ask our churches to pray for peace in Syria and Iraq, an end to the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities, including our brothers and sisters in Christ, and wisdom for our national and international leaders as they work to end this humanitarian crisis.”
In other action, the commission:
• Authorized $103,267 in “care grant” funding from the 2014 Texas Baptist Hunger Offering for projects involving the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board. They included a ministry to human trafficking victims and agricultural development programs in India, food for refugees in Spain and Thailand, and animal husbandry and agricultural development in Brazil.
The requests from IMB personnel marked the first received from the Southern Baptist missions agency in recent years.
• Adopted five ethics and justice priorities for 2015—civility/citizenship, immigration, justice, pornography and human trafficking.
• Approved its public policy priorities for 2015-16 in 10 areas—alcohol and addiction, criminal justice, education, energy and environment, gambling expansion, health care, hunger and nutrition, human trafficking and immigration, predatory lending and religious liberty.