Brent Leatherwood speaks to messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting on Wednesday, June 14, 2023. He said the SBC’s resolution on artificial intelligence is the first of its kind by a major religious denomination. (Index/Roger Alford)
By ROGER ALFORD, Index News Service
NEW ORLEANS — Southern Baptists have adopted a groundbreaking resolution on artificial intelligence that will serve as a guide to church leaders as well as their government lobbyists.
“We must proactively engage and shape these emerging technologies rather than simply respond to the challenges of AI and other emerging technologies after they have already affected our churches and communities,” the resolution said.
Messengers to the SBC’s annual meeting in New Orleans overwhelmingly approved the resolution, one of several covering a variety of issues.
Brent Leatherwood, president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said the resolution is the first of its kind by a major U.S. religious denomination and will be the cornerstone of his organization’s advocacy on the issue.
“Artificial intelligence has been a hot topic, both in Washington and on the international stage,” Leatherwood said. “This resolution comes at an opportune time and proves once again that even when it comes to the leading edge of emerging technologies, the Bible, as always, gives us principles to guide us in uncharted waters.”
The resolution voices no dire warnings about the dangers of artificial intelligence, but, instead, simply advises that safeguards need to be in place.
“We call upon civic, industry, and government leaders to develop, maintain, regulate, and use these technologies with the utmost care and discernment,” the resolution said.
Messengers also approved a resolution opposing sex-change procedures on minors.
“We oppose ‘gender transition’ interventions as a futile quest to change one’s sex and as a direct assault on God’s created order,” the resolution said.
“We condemn corporate medical services that promote harmful and often irreversible ‘gender transition’ experiments on vulnerable minors and young adults, exploiting them for the sake of profit.”
Messengers also adopted a resolution promoting strong U.S. borders and affirming the dignity of immigrants and refugees, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, culture, national origin, or legal status.
“Christians, including Southern Baptists, have long sought to care for the vulnerable, to promote the dignity and unity of the family, and to provide for those who come to this nation seeking safety, freedom, and opportunity,” the resolution said.
“We ask our government leaders to provide clear guidance for immigrants and asylum seekers regarding border policies, legal entry into this country, and work opportunities.”