Church and State and Religious Freedom

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BWA Executive Committee Resolution 1937-06.3

(Page 8 – Background to the Resolution)

  1. Germany.
    Statements were made as to the position of Baptists in Germany, whose world (it was reported) had not been seriously disturbed; and discussion took place as to whether it was desirable to take action on the subject of repressive action towards other Christian bodies. The Committee considered it unwise to attempt to deal with matters concerning which it is not specifically informed; but resolved that a resolution of a general kind should be inserted in the minutes of this meeting reaffirming the historic position of Baptists as to Church and State and as to freedom of religious belief and practice. (See No. 20 following.)
  2. Church and State and Religious Freedom.
    This Committee feels it desirable to call special attention to the resolution adopted by the Fifth Congress of the Baptist World Alliance held at Berlin in August, 1934:—

“The members of this Congress believe that the Church is the company of the people of Christ with the Lord Himself according to His promise in the midst of them, and that He by His Spirit guides them into all Truth and makes plain to them the Will of God for them.

“They hold that any interference with the freedom of the Church is an intrusion between God and His people, and that to limit the liberty of the Church is to hinder the working out of God’s purpose of redemption for mankind through His people.

“They therefore deny the right of the State to interfere in matters of religion, and equally the right of any church to enter into such relations with the State as may compromise its witness or limit its freedom to follow the Will of Christ as revealed to its members, and they believe that any system of State establishment of religion tends rather to the secularizing of the Church than to the spiritualizing of the State.

“The Church is God’s appointed instrument for the redemption of the World and any infringement of its freedom limits its power to accomplish this task.

“The members of this Congress claim for all religious bodies full liberty in matters of faith and worship and the unrestricted right to preach and to teach the Truth as it is revealed to them.

“They further declare their conviction that the above principles tend to promote the true welfare alike of the Church and of the State.”

The Committee declares the entire Baptist communion throughout the world to be resolutely opposed to religious repression of every kind, whether directed against Baptists or others, and it expresses the unwavering sympathy of all our people for the victims of persecution or repression, whether belonging to our own or any other communion.


BWA; Church and State; German Baptists; Germany; Religious Freedom.


Original Source Bibliography: Baptist World Alliance: Minutes of Executive Committee Held at The Offices of the Alliance, London, on Tuesday, June 29th, 1937. London: Baptist World Alliance, 1937.

Original Source Footnote/Endnote: Baptist World Alliance: Minutes of Executive Committee Held at The Offices of the Alliance, London, on Tuesday, June 29th, 1937 (London: Baptist World Alliance, 1937), pp. 8, 10.

Online Document Full Citation: BWA Executive Committee Resolution 1937-06.3 Church and State and Religious Freedom;

In-text Online Document Citation: (BWA Executive Committee Resolution 1937-06.3).

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Since its formation in 1905, the Baptist World Alliance has networked the global Baptist family to impact the world for Christ with a commitment to strengthen worship, fellowship and unity; lead in mission and evangelism; respond to people in need through aid, relief, and community development; defend religious freedom, human rights, and justice; and advance theological reflection and leadership development.