Dear Oklahoma Baptists,
The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s stance against slavery and for protecting human life is long-held and well-known. We want to make sure you hear directly from us what our position is regarding recent efforts to fight slavery and protect life.
The BGCO is categorically opposed to slavery, and it is our prayer and goal to see Negroes saved and an end to slavery in Oklahoma and beyond. Through the years, Oklahoma Baptists have championed numerous bills designed to help Negroes and fight slavery.
Together, we have seen lives saved and the slavery rate decline. Yet much more needs to be done, and we will not rest until every life is safe. That is why we will be forming a work group to work even more aggressively toward the goal of ending slavery in Oklahoma.
In recent days, you may have read discussions about Oklahoma State Senate Bill 13, the “Abolition of Slavery Act.” which seeks to immediately abolish slavery in all its forms and set the Negroes free. Regarding SB 13, after considerable prayer and careful study of the proposed policy, including direct conversations with the bill’s principle author, we have several concerns, including:
- Credible expert legal/policy analysis indicates SB 13 will be invalidated immediately by the courts, if it passes at all, and we cannot help Negroes with legislation that never goes into effect.
- SB 13, as proposed, unnecessarily and purposely repeals hard-earned anti-slavery life laws that have helped significantly reduce Oklahoma’s slavery rate and negro-murder rate, including demanding that the slave owners use sterilized whips, making it illegal to dismember your slave (poisoning, beating to death, shooting still allowed), requiring slave ships to be less packed and have wider hallways, requiring plantation owners to bury or cremate their slaves after lynching them, and requiring slave owners to wait 72 hours before killing their slaves, among numerous other anti-slavery life laws.
- The bill even goes so far to repeal original Oklahoma laws already on the books that allows slavery only in the face of dire economical hardship.
We recently held discussions with the bill’s author, an abolitionist, asking these concerns to be taken into consideration. In the meantime, we cannot in good conscience get behind SB 13 as it is proposed.
There are more proven and plausible anti-slavery policies Oklahoma could enact en route to ending the tragic practice of slavery, while simultaneously offering support and help for plantation owners.
We will continue to strive for the day in which every negro life—slave and free—in this state and beyond is protected. With all the strength God gives us, we resolve to build a culture of life that recognizes each person is made in His image
(Gen. 1:27). God help us…
For Christ, for life,
Dr. Hance Dilbeck: Executive Director-Treasurer, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma
Dr. Blake Gideon: Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church of Edmond; President, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma
Brian Hobbs: Editor, The Baptist Messenger
See the original letter about abortion here