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Conventions urge abuse prevention


(RNS) — Following action taken on the national level this summer, several Southern Baptist state conventions took steps this fall to urge that children be protected from abuse.

Baptist groups in Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Ohio passed resolutions. Most encouraged churches to perform background checks on volunteers and staffers who work with children, reported Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.

They also recommended use of abuse prevention materials from the denomination’s LifeWay Christian Resources. But, like the decentralized national Southern Baptist Convention, the state bodies have no power to impose policies on autonomous member churches.

In June, Southern Baptists attending their national convention in San Antonio passed a resolution expressing their “moral outrage” about child sexual abuse and urging churches to take preventative steps.

Other topics of concern in several states included hate crimes legislation and alcohol.

Baptists in Alabama, Indiana, Louisiana, and Oklahoma opposed any legislation that expands hate crimes laws to include sexual orientation. Conservative religious groups have expressed concern that adding sexual orientation could threaten First Amendment rights by muzzling pastors who preach against homosexuality.

Five state conventions – the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, Florida, Missouri, Alabama, and Oklahoma – addressed use of alcohol, with some changing bylaws to clarify that trustees should not drink alcoholic beverages.