DULUTH, Ga. – Georgia lawmakers will see a renewed effort from the state’s largest religious group to protect biblical definitions of gender and to oppose efforts to expand gambling when they convene in Atlanta next month for the start of the 2023 legislative session.
Messengers to the 1.4 million-member Georgia Baptist Convention approved a series of resolutions last month, including one that reiterates their opposition to allowing male athletes to compete as females in sporting events.
In that resolution, Georgia Baptists are calling on lawmakers, the governor and attorney general to push back against attempts by President Joe Biden’s administration to withhold federal funding from schools that don’t comply.
“The Georgia Baptist Convention stands resolutely with parents, schools, and districts in rejecting harmful, coercive, and burdensome gender identity policies, procedures and regulations,” the resolution said.
That resolution called on lawmakers to assist local school districts in combatting what it called a federal overreach by providing stopgap funding if the Biden administration’s proposal takes effect.
It also calls on lawmakers to require school officials to inform parents if their children claim “a discordant gender identity,” question their gender identities, request alternative names or pronouns, or indicate mental or emotional distress regarding their gender identities.
Georgia Baptists also passed a resolution restating their opposition to sports gambling.
“Sports gambling, while it is being done illegally in our state now, will be exponentially worse if made legal, especially in terms of addiction,” the resolution said.
The cost of legalizing sports gambling, according to the resolution, would be astronomical.
“We already know that each new addicted gambler costs the taxpayers $28,000 to $104,000 per year, and, like drug addicts, each gambling addict negatively affects the lives of between seven and 17 other people,” the resolution said. “Gambling creates no new product and is profitable only via constant increases in human misery.”
The resolution calls on lawmakers to cease and desist with efforts to open Georgia to more gambling, whether via casinos, pari-mutuel gambling on horse races, or sports betting.
Internally, messengers also passed a resolution that calls on Georgia Baptists to do all in their power to protect children and adults from sexual abuse.
“We remind all Georgia Baptists of their legal and moral responsibility to report any suspicions or accusations of child sexual abuse to authorities,” the resolution said. “We likewise call upon Georgia Baptists to cooperate fully with law enforcement officials in exposing and bringing to justice all perpetrators, sexual or otherwise, who criminally harm children placed in our trust.”
That resolution also called on Georgia Baptists to recognize the courage of sexual abuse survivors who share their stories and “bravely pursue action” from their leaders.
“We also must pray for God to provide strength and healing for all survivors as well as wisdom for everyone dealing with abusive situations,” the resolution said.
Another resolution reminds Georgia Baptists of the need for them to love and care for mothers and their babies in the post-Roe v. Wade era when most abortions are illegal after the first six weeks of pregnancy.
“With Roe v. Wade overturned, the church is now going to be called upon like never before for help in caring for mothers and their babies,” the resolution said. “It must be understood that caring for mothers and babies should not be an ‘extracurricular activity’ but rather it should be the part of the ‘core’ of what we’re called to do.”
The resolutions are available for review on the Georgia Baptist public affairs page.
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