The Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution June 14 criticizing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement to put economic and political pressure on Israel to end the occupation of Palestinian lands despite objections by an Arabic pastor.
Pastor Jamal Bishara of First Arabic Baptist Church in Phoenix, Ariz., argued unsuccessfully that parts the resolution “on prayer and support for Israel” are both biblically and factually incorrect.
Bishara, who was born and raised in Nazareth, Israel, said Palestinians have “the right to live peaceably in their land.”
“Among the Palestinians you have brothers and sisters who are Christians also,” Bishara said.
The resolution cites Bible verses including God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis: “I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through you.”
It supports “the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign state” and rejects “any activities that attack that right by promoting economic, cultural and academic boycotts against Israel.”
Bishara said he was not asking Southern Baptists to oppose Israel but only those who argue the path to security is annihilation of the Palestinian population.
“That is not a stand that Southern Baptists want to take,” he said. “We have a message of peace.”
“It isolates us and it enters us into the political arena,” the pastor said of the resolution. “We are a spiritual entity to bring forth the message of peace to the world.”
Other SBC resolutions oppose requiring women to register for the draft and affirm “In God We Trust” as the national motto.
A resolution on refugee ministry encourages Southern Baptists to care for and share the gospel with refugees who come to the United States, while calling on the government to “implement the strictest security measures possible in the refugee screening and selection process, guarding against anyone intent on doing harm.”
A resolution calling for greater evangelistic zeal defends the term “soul winning” in sharing the gospel message. Another resolution encourages ministry to individuals affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Other resolutions affirm “biblical sexuality and the freedom of conscience,” freedom of the press and voting as an expression of Christian citizenship.
One resolution calls on Southern Baptists to discontinue the display of the Confederate flag. Another condemns the June 12 shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., as an “act of terrorism” and urges compassion and prayer for victims and their families.