The Southern Baptist Convention on Wednesday passed a resolution declaring “total opposition” to the manufacturing, advertising, distributing and drinking of alcoholic beverages.

While teetotaling was the denomination’s official stance through much of the 20th century, opponents to the resolution said total abstinence is not supported by Scripture and is not essential for proclamation of the gospel.

“I fear by adopting a resolution that speak against sins this body does not commit in order to forsake resolutions that may speak to sins this body may commit sends an uncertain sound,” said Benjamin Cole, pastor of Parkway Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas. “This is not a hill to die on.”

Jim Richards, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, countered: “We need to be as a denomination standing on holiness. The use of alcohol as a beverage can and does impede our testimony for Jesus Christ.”

Richards offered an amendment, approved by messengers, urging that no one who is “a user of alcoholic beverages” be elected to an SBC leadership position.

Another resolution on “Environmentalism and Evangelicals” warned of “divided” science on the causes of global warming and that “environmentalism is threatening to become a wedge issue to divide the evangelical community and further distract its members from the priority of the Great Commission.”

It pledged to “resist alliances with extreme environmental groups whose positions contradict biblical principles” and opposed “solutions based on questionable science, which bar access to natural resources and unnecessarily restrict economic development, resulting in less economic opportunity for our poorest citizens.”

A resolution on the “Crisis of Illegal Immigration” urged the federal government to enforce border laws, while urging Christians to “follow the biblical principle of caring for the foreigners among us.”

It encouraged Southern Baptists to “make the most of this tremendous opportunity for evangelism” by leading undocumented residents to “become both legal residents of the United States and loyal citizens of the Kingdom of God.”

Other SBC resolutions:

–Supported off-campus biblical instruction in public schools.

–Urged Congress and states to adopt constitutional amendments defining marriage as between a man and woman.

–Praised President Bush for nominating “strict constructionist” judges and urged Senate confirmation of pending appointments.

–Appealed to China to recognize North Koreans entering the country fleeing the Kim Jong Il regime as refugees.

–Called for ending genocide in Sudan.

–Opposed human “species-altering” technologies.

–Encouraged prayer for President Bush and the U.S. military.

Bob Allen is managing editor of

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