AUSTIN–This morning, Gus Reyes, director of the Christian Life Commission, will be testifying in support of a bill by Rep. Scott Sanford (Executive Pastor at Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church in Allen). The bill will be heard in Texas House State Affairs.
HB 3567 protects religious organizations, or entities controlled by religious organization (such as schools) or pastors and staff from having to solemnize or participate in anyway with any marriage that violates their sincerely held religious beliefs.
Below is the testimony Reyes will be giving:
I am Gus Reyes, Executive Director Texas Baptists Christian Life Commission and I am for HB 3567.
Baptists are the largest non-Catholic Christian group in Texas, we believe in the importance of religious liberty, not just for ourselves, but for everyone, including those who do not believe in God.
This Baptist commitment to religious liberty also arises from our doctrine. We believe in freedom of conscience – that all people are competent to determine what they believe about ultimate reality. In other words, God gives people the ability to make choices about what they believe.
Each Sunday and throughout the week, our ministers and church members seek to preach and to live their lives in a manner they see as consistent with the ancient truths of Scripture. This basic message has been proclaimed for two thousand years. It has meant life, love and happiness to countless people. It has also been rejected by many others. We affirm that freedom of choice.
Churches and their pastors proclaim truth as best they understand it, but the message is not mere hollow words to be heard and ignored. Jesus taught his followers to love God with all of their being and to love others as much as themselves. This love is not a feeling; it is an active love that causes us to want to do good for others, especially those who are suffering the most. As a result, Baptists and other Christian groups operate day care centers, hospitals, children's homes, crisis pregnancy centers, and other ministries to express this love.
The list of ministries is almost endless. In all of them we seek to live out our faith in practical ways that help our communities. We function within the laws of our land, but we also hold certain beliefs that the majority may not like.
True religious freedom is not needed much by those who hold views supported by the majority of people. Religious freedom is needed most by those who hold views that are in the minority.
We are asking that the House Committee on State Affairs reaffirm the well-established position of allowing people to worship God, or no God, as they see fit and to serve their communities in ways consistent with that faith.