Editor’s note: a similar comparison to the Democratic platform can be found here.
By David Roach
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (BP) — This year’s Republican National Convention was shorter than usual on official policy statements that align with Southern Baptist Convention resolutions.
In lieu of a party platform, the RNC declared in a resolution its support for President Trump’s agenda, which aligns with several SBC resolutions and agrees partially with others. The Trump campaign agenda, comprising 50 bullet points, makes no mention of some traditional SBC priorities, including abortion, religious liberty, and human sexuality.
But the Republican Party said it continues to stand on its 2016 platform – which does address those priorities.
R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said he was “thankful that the very clear commitments of the 2016 Republican platform continue,” and added there is “still going to be [a] radical distinction between” Republicans and Democrats on those issues. But he said failing to adopt a 2020 platform was “a glaring omission” and “a tragic mistake,” adding that Republicans have “missed an enormous opportunity to make clear” the “major ideological differences and policy differences between the Republicans and the Democrats.”
He added, however, that Trump has made clear his staunch personal commitment to pro-life policies. And the convention agenda has highlighted that commitment, with speakers including prolife activist Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director who described abortion in detail – including the assertion that “for me, abortion is real. I know what it sounds like; I know what abortion smells like. Did you know that abortion even had a smell?”
The Republican Party’s 2016 platform is long on points of agreement with SBC resolutions. With COVID-19 limiting the number of RNC delegates who could convene in person, the GOP “did not want a small contingent of delegates formulating a new platform without the breadth of perspectives within the ever-growing Republican movement,” according to the resolution.
The 66-page 2016 platform references God 15 times, marriage 19, abortion 35, and contains no clear disagreements with SBC stances.
Points of agreement (2020 campaign agenda)
Trump’s campaign agenda declared the president’s intention to “provide school choice to every child in America.” A 2014 SBC resolution “encourage[d] lawmakers to enact policies and legislation that maximize parental choice and best serve the educational needs and desires of families.”
Trump will seek to “dismantle human trafficking networks,” according to the campaign agenda. 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.”
A priority of Trump’s second term will be to “wipe out global terrorists who threaten to harm Americans,” the campaign agenda stated. The SBC has denounced terrorism at least five times since 1978, including a statement of support in 2002 for “the just war against the terrorist networks and their state sponsors.”
Points of partial agreement (2020 campaign agenda)
America should “continue to lead the world in access to the cleanest drinking water and cleanest air,” the agenda stated, and “partner with other nations to clean up our planet’s oceans.”
The SBC has urged wise stewardship of natural resources at least six times since 1970, but the convention has endorsed more specific policies than the campaign agenda. A 2007 SBC resolution “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 SBC resolution seems to align with the 2016 GOP platform, which urged “dispassionate analysis of hard data” on climate change. It warned that the cost of undue reliance on renewable energy sources could cause disproportionate harm to low-income Americans.
The Trump campaign pledged to “end illegal immigration and protect American workers.” The president’s specific policy suggestions included blocking illegal immigrants from receiving government benefits and ending sanctuary cities.
Three times since 2006, the SBC has called for government officials to secure America’s borders against illegal immigration. In all three resolutions, the convention underscored the need for compassionate treatment of immigrants regardless of their legal status. In 2011, messengers asked elected officials to “hold businesses accountable for hiring practices as they relate to immigration status.” In both 2011 and 2018, the SBC urged a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants, adding in 2011 that none of the convention’s policy stances should “be construed as support for amnesty for any undocumented immigrant.”
The 2016 Republican platform aligned with SBC resolutions in opposing “any form of amnesty,” calling for immigration reform and demanding both secure borders and worker verification. The platform did not advocate a pathway to legal status for undocumented individuals.
Points of agreements (2016 platform)
The 2016 Republican platform referenced the party’s pro-life stance about once every two pages, including advocacy of a constitutional amendment applying the right to life to children in the womb. The platform echoes SBC calls to defund Planned Parenthood (2017), repeal Roe v. Wade (2003), uphold the Hyde Amendment banning federal funding of abortion (1993), halt use of the abortion drug RU 486 (1994), and ban the sale of fetal tissue from elective abortions (2000). In all, SBC resolutions have opposed abortion at least 25 times since 1976.
Marriage is “the foundation for a free society” and “the union of one man and one woman,” the platform stated. Citizens have a constitutional right to uphold that definition, according to the GOP, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell decision legalizing same-sex marriage should be overturned. Permitting transgender students to use school restrooms and locker rooms that do not correspond to their biological gender is “illegal, dangerous, and ignores privacy issues.”
The SBC has expressed opposition to homosexual behavior at least 19 times since 1976, including a 2016 expression of “dissent from the Obergefell opinion that purports to redefine the institution of marriage created by God.” In 2014, the convention “oppose[d] steadfastly all efforts by any governing official or body to validate transgender identity as morally praiseworthy,” including transgender-affirming restroom policies in public schools.
Individuals, businesses and institutions of faith should never be compelled “to transgress their beliefs,” the platform stated. Accordingly, government should not discriminate against businesses that decline to sell goods or services based on their religious views of marriage or gender; government benefits should not be withheld from religious schools; public display of the Ten Commandments should be permitted; voluntary prayer led by students should be allowed at public school events; private religious organizations should be permitted to set their own membership standards; and military members should have the freedom to express their religious beliefs. Republicans also affirmed international religious liberty.
The SBC has expressed its support for religious liberty in dozens of resolutions. Among them, a 2016 statement advocated conscience protections for individuals who cannot support laws based on unbiblical views of marriage, sexuality, and gender. A 2014 resolution advocated religious freedom for faith groups on college campuses, military members, and health care workers among other groups. A 2011 resolution asked U.S. leaders “to make religious liberty for all people a priority in decisions of foreign policy and international aid.”
The GOP denounced bigotry, racism and religious intolerance. 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 president should nominate “judges who respect the rule of law expressed within the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, including the inalienable right to life and the laws of nature and nature’s God,” the platform stated. The SBC advocated nomination and confirmation of “strict constructionist judges to fill the remaining vacancies in the federal judiciary.”
Euthanasia and assisted suicide
Federal funding should be utilized to assist families with adoption services, the platform stated. 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.”
Stem cell research
The platform called for “a ban on human cloning.” The SBC also called for such a ban and “repudiate[d] both reproductive cloning and research cloning of human embryos.”
“Mental illness affects people from all walks of life,” the platform stated. In response, Medicaid-related grants and the military health care system, among other avenues, should be utilized to promote mental health, Republicans said. In 2013, the SBC expressed a commitment “to affirm, support, and share God’s love and redemption with those with mental health concerns.”
Schools should replace “‘family planning’ programs for teens with sexual risk avoidance education that sets abstinence until marriage as the responsible and respected standard of behavior,” according to the platform. The SBC, in 1992, urged government officials to “implement abstinence-based educational programs in public schools.”
Criminal justice reform
Republicans urged prison alternatives for “first-time, nonviolent offenders” and potential modification of mandatory minimum sentencing requirements for “nonviolent offenders and persons with drug, alcohol, or mental health issues.” The SBC supported in 2013 “legislative policies that seek to reduce high incarceration rates without jeopardizing public safety.”
“The constitutionality of the death penalty is firmly settled by its explicit mention in the Fifth Amendment,” the platform stated. A 2000 SBC resolution supported “the fair and equitable use of capital punishment by civil magistrates.”
Pornography, according to the platform, “has become a public health crisis that is destroying the lives of millions.” In 2015, the SBC “call[ed] on government authorities to enact and enforce laws that restrict all forms of pornography, particularly those that include and exploit minors.”
Legislation must address the opioid crisis, which “is ravaging communities all over the country,” the platform stated. A 2018 SBC resolution “encourage[d] our city, state, and national governments to work together to address the [opioid] crisis.”
Women in combat
Republicans called for women to be exempt from registering for the draft and from serving in U.S. military ground combat and infantry battalions. A 2019 SBC resolution said requiring women to register for the draft “would be to act against the plain testimony of Scripture and nature.” Two decades earlier, the convention “oppose[d] the training and assigning of females to military combat service.”
Points of partial agreement
Lawful gun ownership is part of the “God-given right of self-defense,” according to the platform. Republicans opposed restrictions on magazine capacity and banning “sale of the most popular and common modern rifle.” The SBC demanded in 2018 that any government solutions to gun violence be “in accordance with the Second Amendment.” But the convention has not opposed specific weapon bans. It has “call[ed] on federal, state, and local authorities to implement preventative measures that would reduce gun violence and mass shootings.”
Republicans in 2016 asserted their “unequivocal support for Israel,” including recognition of Jerusalem as its capital. The platform opposed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, which seeks to isolate the nation of Israel economically and socially. Southern Baptists likewise opposed the BDS Movement and “support[ed] the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign state.” The convention committed “to pray for God’s peace to rule in Jerusalem” but did not express a position on Jerusalem’s status as the nation’s capital.
David Roach is a writer for Baptist Press.