VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 6/14/14)—The American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) Board of General Ministries voted to approve two critical actions regarding Burma on Friday, June 13, at its meeting at the Green Lake Conference Center/American Baptist Assembly in Green Lake, Wisconsin.
One action is with regard to U.S. financial support for the Burmese military, and the other concerns a proposed law on religious conversion. Each of these issues has the potential for great harm to Baptist Christians and others in Burma.
For over 20 years now, Karen, Chin and other ethnic groups who are primarily Christian have been fleeing Burma because of the military’s onslaught against them. The ruthless human rights violations of the military are well documented. When an ABC delegation traveled to Burma in December 2013 for the 200th anniversary Judson celebration, the delegation heard first-hand testimony from the Kachin about the ongoing atrocities against them by the military. The first action below supports the intent of current legislation in our congress that will prevent aid going to the Burma military until they have shown progress in their human rights record. Simply put, we do not want our government providing support to a military that is murdering, raping and driving Baptist brothers and sisters from their villages. We urge you to ask your own congressperson and Senators to sign on as sponsors of the bill. Find your local representative or senator here.
The second action regards a religious conversion law that is being introduced into the legislative process in Burma. It would severely restrict the rights of Christians and other minority religions to share their faith with Buddhists. The bill carries jail terms and other punitive measures for those who do so and clearly contravenes the guarantee of religious liberty in their own constitution. ABCUSA will be voicing its concern to both our government and the government of Myanmar as stated below.
“While we rejoice in the progress that has occurred in Burma, these are matters that harm Baptist brothers and sisters in Burma. We ask for your prayers and your action,” said ABCUSA General Secretary A. Roy Medley.
The specific actions, approved by the Board of General Ministries, are as follows:
VOTED: We endorse the intent of S1885 and HR 4377 to require advances in human rights and religious liberty by the government of Myanmar as a condition of security assistance and we urge our congregations to support such legislation.
VOTED: The Board of General Ministries expresses to both the government of Myanmar and the U.S. government our strongest concerns over the restrictions of religious liberty contained in the proposed religious conversion law. Its restrictions against the right to freely choose a religion violates internationally recognized fundamental human rights.
The Board of General Ministries meetings conclude on June 14.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.