Editor’s note: A similar comparison to the Republican platform will be forthcoming.
By David Roach
MILWAUKEE (BP) — The 2020 Democratic Party Platform draws mixed reviews when compared with resolutions passed by messengers at recent SBC annual meetings.
Adopted Tuesday, Aug. 18 by Democratic National Convention delegates, the 92-page platform runs contrary to many SBC resolutions, including convention statements on abortion and LGBT issues. But it aligns with many facets of SBC resolutions on racism, sexual abuse, and mental health, among other issues.
On yet other topics, the Democratic platform and SBC resolutions share common ground without aligning fully. Perhaps most notably, both groups endorse religious liberty, but the Democratic platform departs from the SBC by claiming religious liberty is not a valid reason for organizations to deny their employees LGBT protections or abortion services.
Points of disagreement
“Every woman should be able to access high-quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion,” according to the Democratic platform. Democrats stated their support for federal funding of Planned Parenthood, repeal of the Hyde Amendment (which bars federal funding for most abortions), overturning of the Mexico City Policy (which blocks federal funding for international abortions), and lifting restrictions on “medication abortion care.” Additionally, Democrats pledged to appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices who “enforce foundational precedents,” including the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
SBC resolutions have opposed abortion at least 25 times since 1976, including a 2015 “repudiation of the genocide of legalized abortion in the United States.” The SBC has called for defunding Planned Parenthood, repealing Roe v. Wade and halting use of the abortion drug RU 486. The convention has endorsed the Hyde Amendment, and the ERLC has applauded the Mexico City Policy.
The Democratic platform employs the acronym LGBTQ+ 32 times, an average of about once every three pages. Democrats advocate requiring federal health plans to cover “gender confirmation surgery” and “hormone therapy.” They also claim LGBT couples should not face discrimination in adoption and foster care services, say transgender students should be guaranteed access to school facilities based on their gender identity, and call for a ban on “conversion therapy” for LGBT youth and adults.
The SBC has addressed homosexuality at least 19 times since 1976, including 2012 opposition to framing homosexuality as a civil rights issue. In 2014, the convention “oppose[d] steadfastly all efforts by any governing official or body to validate transgender identity as morally praiseworthy.” ERLC President Russell Moore has said conversion therapy bans may threaten religious freedom.
“Climate change is a global emergency,” according to the Democratic platform. It calls for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and the elimination of carbon pollution from power plants.
A 2007 SBC resolution called for wise stewardship of the earth’s natural resources but “urge[d] Congress and the president to only support cost-effective measures to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions and to reject government-mandated reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”
The convention cited “conflicting scientific research” and said carbon emission reductions based on a maximum acceptable global temperature “may have no appreciable effect if humans are not the principal cause of global warming, and could lead to major economic hardships on a worldwide scale.”
The Democratic platform supports “abolishing the death penalty.” A 2000 SBC resolution supported “the fair and equitable use of capital punishment by civil magistrates.”
Comprehensive sex education
“LGBTQ+ inclusive, age-appropriate sex education” is “essential to ensuring that people can decide if, when, and how to start a family,” according to the Democratic platform. A 2006 SBC resolution lamented public school “curricula and policies teaching that the homosexual lifestyle is acceptable” and encouraged Southern Baptists to exert “godly influence” on public school systems.
Points of partial agreement
Consistent with the SBC’s advocacy of religious liberty, Democrats pledged to “protect the rights of each American for the free exercise of his or her own religion.” However, the platform denounced the “use of broad religious exemptions to allow businesses, medical providers, social service agencies, and others to discriminate.”
The platform noted as an example that employers should not be exempted on religious grounds from providing “prescription contraceptives at no cost” under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which includes abortion-causing drugs under the so-called contraceptive mandate. Democrats also opposed religious-based discrimination against LGBT individuals.
A 2016 SBC resolution supported conscience protections for individuals who cannot support laws based on unbiblical views of marriage, sexuality, and gender. The resolution asked Congress to “ensure that the federal government does not discriminate against people of faith because of their convictions.” Two years earlier, SBC messengers in Baltimore responded with a standing ovation when the owners of Hobby Lobby were presented with an award from the ERLC for refusing to provide abortion-causing drugs to their employees despite ACA requirements. In 2018, GuideStone Financial Resources won a seven-year legal battle against the ACA’s abortion/contraceptive mandate.
The Democratic platform called for compassionate treatment of immigrants to the U.S. and a roadmap to citizenship for undocumented individuals. A 2018 SBC resolution also called for compassionate treatment of immigrants and advocated “a pathway to legal status.” But the resolution did not call specifically for a path to citizenship, and it included “emphasis on securing our borders.”
The platform declared gun violence a “public health crisis” and pledged to “make gun violence a thing of the past.” In 2018, the SBC “decr[ied] the epidemic of gun violence” and “call[ed] on federal, state, and local authorities to implement preventative measures that would reduce gun violence and mass shootings.”
But unlike the Democratic platform, the SBC resolution demanded that solutions to gun violence be “in accordance with the Second Amendment” and “affirm[ed] that gun ownership carries with it a great responsibility of being aware of the sinfulness of one’s own heart.”
Both the Democratic platform and a 2016 SBC resolution expressed support for Israel and opposed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, which seeks to isolate the nation of Israel economically and socially. However, Democrats advocated a “negotiated two-state solution” between Israel and the Palestinians.
The SBC did not support any specific solution to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians, but it “support[ed] the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign state and reject[ed] any activities that attack that right.”
Points of agreement
References to combating racial discrimination and racial disparities are sprinkled throughout the platform, including sections on health care, housing, criminal justice reform, and education. “Democrats are committed to standing up to racism and bigotry,” the platform states.
The SBC has denounced racial discrimination numerous times, including a 2018 resolution in which messengers “maintain[ed] and renew[ed] our public renunciation of racism in all its forms.”
The platform’s advocacy of “removing the Confederate battle flag and statues of Confederate leaders from public properties” also parallels a 2016 SBC resolution calling for “brothers and sisters in Christ to discontinue the display of the Confederate battle flag.”
The platform’s commitment to “ending sexual assault, domestic abuse, and other violence against women” resonates with themes in a 2019 SBC resolution “on the evil of sexual abuse.”
To combat the opioid epidemic, Democrats pledged “to make medication-assisted treatment available to all who need it” and to “require publicly supported health clinics to offer medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction.” A 2018 SBC resolution “encourage[d] our city, state, and national governments to work together to address the [opioid] crisis.”
Democrats pledged to support adoption services. In 2009, the SBC encouraged “each Southern Baptist family to pray for guidance as to whether God is calling them to adopt or foster a child or children.”
The platform includes at least 30 references to mental health, including pledges to increase federal support of mental health care. In 2013, the SBC expressed a commitment “to affirm, support, and share God’s love and redemption with those with mental health concerns.”
Democrats said they would “fight human trafficking and strive to end the practice of modern-day slavery around the world.” SBC resolutions have condemned trafficking at least twice, including a 2013 call to support “public policies at the local, state, national, and international level which combat human trafficking.”
David Roach is a writer for Baptist Press.