Southern Baptists Become First Religious Denomination to Condemn Uyghur Genocide in China

Southern Baptists have become the first Christian religious denomination to recognize China's treatment of Uyghur Muslims as genocide, according to a report from Christian Today.

In a resolution first published by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) last week, the group condemned China's actions and called upon the government to "cease its program of genocide against the Uyghur people immediately."

The resolution was written by Griffin Gulledge, a Ph.D. student in systematic theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Christian Today reported.

As the United States' largest Protestant denomination, the SBC resolution marks a significant turning point for Christian organizations in condemning China. While others, including Pope Francis, have previously recognized the plight of Uyghur Muslims, Southern Baptists have now become the first religious group to outwardly call the issue "genocide," according to the news outlet.

"[SBC] condemns the actions of the Chinese Communist Party against the Uyghur people, and that we stand together with these people against the atrocities committed against them," the resolution said.

"We call upon the Chinese Communist Party and the People's Republic of China to cease its program of genocide against the Uyghur people immediately, restore to them their full God-given rights, and put an end to their captivity and systematic persecution and abuse," it added.

The resolution was drafted during an SBC meeting in Nashville, Tenn., from June 15–16. The statement highlighted the biblical case for human rights and outlined the Southern Baptists' stance on "crimes against humanity."

The SBC also cited "credible reports from human rights journalists" and referenced the U.S., Canada, U.K., and others in recognizing that China's actions are considered genocide.

Uyghur protest
Southern Baptists have become the first Christian denomination to declare China's treatment of Uyghur Muslims an act of genocide. Here, a protester is seen holding up a sign that says "Millions of Uyghurs in camps" on 23rd June, 2021, in London, United Kingdom. Mark Kerrison/Getty Images

In January, the U.S. became the first country to officially declare China's actions to be genocide, following reports that the nation has placed over 1 million Uyghurs into detainment camps in the Xinjiang region and forced them to work in hazardous conditions against their will.

China has since been accused by Western nations and human rights organizations of committing rape, sexual abuse, sterilization, human trafficking, forced reeducation of children, forced labor, and torture. The country has also been accused of using sophisticated techniques to hack into the phones and technologies of ethnic minorities.

China has consistently denied all allegations of human rights abuses, claiming its system of "re-education" camps are there to combat Islamist militancy in the region.

In its resolution, the SBC called upon the U.S. "to continue to take concrete actions with respect to the People's Republic of China to bring an end to the genocide of the Uyghur People, and work to secure their humane treatment, immediate release from reeducation camps, and religious freedom."

"We stand together with these people against the atrocities committed against them," the resolution states, adding that "we earnestly pray for the Uyghur people as they suffer under such persecution."

Newsweek contacted the SBC for additional comment, and they did not choose to make any comments on the issue beyond the resolution.