BWA Executive Committee Resolution 1937-06.2
To give effect to the foregoing resolution (I), the Committee unanimously approved (after similar scrutiny by the Sub-Committee) the following letter to the Minister-President of the Government of Rumania: —
With the utmost respect we approach you on behalf of the Baptist communion, which is the largest Protestant and Free Church communion in the world, and whose members everywhere cherish sincere goodwill to Rumania, its people, and its government.
The religious tenets of our people are well known. They abhor all that is subversive of Christian morals and public order, and their doctrines and practice tend to promote the strength and wellbeing of every nation. There is nothing in the belief and life of the Baptist people to which any State may rightly raise objection. In view of unfounded assertions, which we are informed have been made concerning Baptists in Rumania, we specifically assert that opposition in military service required by the State has never formed an element of Baptist dogma. Our people yield precedence to none in readiness to render to the State every form of service consistent with loyalty to God. To them the teachings of the New Testament as set forth (for example) in Matt. 22, 21 and Rom. 13, 1-8 are authoritative.
Our approach to Your Excellency is on purely religious grounds. It has no concern with special political or national interests in any form, and in making it we do not speak for any State or political party. Nevertheless, since the prevalence of freedom and justice makes for the strength of a people, we may fairly claim that your favourable response to our petition would serve the deepest and most enduring interests of Rumania itself; and we may also claim that the establishment of conditions in Rumania which command the approval of public opinion in free democratic countries would further the good understanding between peoples which is the chief factor in the maintenance of general wellbeing and peace.
In approaching Your Excellency, we would lay stress upon the fact that Baptists seek no exceptional favour to members of their communion. To them religious freedom is not a privilege to be granted to any group or groups, but is the common right of all loyal and peaceable citizens. They claim liberty for the full exercise of that right in all its implications.
In the name of the Executive Committee of the Baptist World Alliance, which is the ecumenical organisation representing the entire Baptist communion, we desire to express our profound regret that, after careful consideration of the “Decision” No. 4,781, dated 17th April 1937, and bearing the signature of the Minister of Cults and Arts in your Government, we are compelled to regard that “derision” as in its principle subversive of religions liberty as acknowledged in free and selfgoverning States and in the constitution of Rumania itself. Moreover, its detailed provisions involve a systematic repression which destroys for Baptists and. others freedom of worship, of preaching, and of organisation in accordance with the teachings of the New Testament.
The Executive Committee has considered the letter of protest and appeal dated 31st May 1937, forwarded to His Excellency the Minister of Cults and Arts, and of which a copy was transmitted to yourself. The members unanimously endorse the contents of the letter, and earnestly ask that it may receive the consideration of Your Excellency and Your Government, and that the decision No. 4781 may be withdrawn. They cannot conceive that it is the deliberate purpose of Your Government to forbid assemblies for purely religious objects, and to place upon liberty of preaching such restrictions as in spirit and in form are characteristic of the seventeenth rather than of the twentieth century.
To this Committee it would seem incredible that the suppression and even the extinction of a Christian Communion represented in every part of the earth is seriously proposed in Rumania. The attempt to enforce a decision involving such consequences would, indeed, shock the conscience and public opinion of the world.
We, therefore, on behalf of our communion of over 12,000,000 communicant members, representing a constituency of over forty millions, submit to Your Excellency our solemn and deliberate judgment that the decision which has aroused such deep concern should be withdrawn, and that our brethren in faith, loyal citizens of your country, should be granted the full liberty which elsewhere they enjoy, and which they have never abused to the hurt of their fellow citizens or of the State.
We would close this appeal by the renewed assurance that the prayers of our people are offered, not only for our fellow Baptists of Your Excellency’s country, but for the prosperity of the State and all its people; and we and the world-fellowship of Baptists which we represent would rejoice to add to our prayer a thanksgiving for the recognition by Your Government of the status as a Christian community of Baptist people in Rumania, and their unfettered liberty of assembly, of worship, and of preaching.
It was further resolved that the letter signed by the President and General Secretary be presented by a deputation, whose members should be selected by the General Secretary, to the Rumanian Minister in London, for transmission to his Government.
BWA; Justice; Persecution; Religious Liberty; Rumania.
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.7-8.
Online Document Full Citation: BWA Executive Committee Resolution 1937-06.2 Letter to the Government of Rumania; https://baptistworld.org/resolutions.
In-text Online Document Citation: (BWA Executive Committee Resolution 1937-06.2).