American Baptist Policy Statement on Violence

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from “American Baptist Policy Statement on Violence”

excerpt from: Situational Analysis

…The culture of violence is manifested both in the pervasiveness of overt acts of physical force and in the more subtle dynamics by which harm is persistently done to people. This culture of violence is reflected in such ways as: the glorified role of violence in historic frontier communities; violence in the family; violence of sexual abuse, incest and rape; violence in the workplace; violence in the schools; violence in the streets; violence in the criminal justice system; violence in the use of guns, knives, and other weapons of assault; violence in the military; violence in war; violence in the marketing of weapons; violence of industries that profit by harming others; violence in the media; violence in music; violence of hate crimes; violence of the systematic destruction of the earth; and the existence of nuclear weapons, wherein we have seized the divine prerogative to determine the destiny of humanity.

Violence finds expression in every human culture. The increasing interconnectedness of the global community has brought us in contact with the breadth and variety of human experiences of violence. Our missionary calling has required us to minister in the very midst of these life threatening situations at home and abroad.

The Policy

It is with a sense of divine leading that we acknowledge that the God of the Bible is the God of life who calls us to shalom, the well-being of all creation. We affirm a belief that, through the biblical vision of shalom and the example of Jesus Christ, the Christian community is called to respond prophetically and pastorally to the existing reality of violence in the world. When the ambiguities and moral complexities of a situation demand that we make difficult choices, we must act as faithfully as we know how, with a humble dependence upon the grace of God.

Therefore, as a sign of our prophetic calling, we call upon all American Baptists, American Baptist churches, and American Baptist organizations to do the following:

1. To be peacemakers, builders of God’s shalom;

2. To work for the prevention of violence, the peaceful resolution of conflicts and just reconciliation;

3. To advocate for a more responsible media;

4. To challenge ideologies, structures, politics and policies that lead to violence. As a sign of our pastoral commitment to stand against violence, we as members of the General Board commit ourselves and call upon American Baptist churches and other
American Baptist organizations to do the following:

1. To call on our churches to preach the life-transforming power of Christ, applying this message concretely to our tendency toward violence;

2. To educate ourselves on the constructive use of conflict;

3. To educate ourselves about the violence in the media and culture and to advocate for corrective measures as part of our responsibility as disciples of Christ;

4. To facilitate the development of conflict-resolution teams, violence prevention strategies and nonviolent means of political and social change;

5. To promote the inclusion of victims in the process of creating solutions to issues of violence;

6. To identify and utilize effective models of healing for those who have been victimized by violence;

7. To advocate for further regulations on the manufacturing and use of life-threatening products;

8. To join with other organizations to act locally and nationally to curtail violence.

9. To avoid investments in companies that are involved in the manufacture and/or distribution of life-threatening products.

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