Mission of the ERLC

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission exists to assist your churches by helping you understand the moral demands of the gospel, apply Christian principles to moral and social problems and questions of public policy, and to promote religious liberty in cooperation with churches and other Southern Baptist entities. Together, we can bring hope to the public square—for the sake of the gospel. 


What we advocate for

With origins dating back to 1908, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and its previous forms, represents a concerted effort on the part of Southern Baptists to bring the Gospel to bear on issues of moral importance in culture for over a century.

Southern Baptists have been clear that living consistent with God’s Word is the true path to flourishing. In particular, the ERLC focuses on four main areas where we want to bring the truth to bear on public policy.


We aim to promote a culture of life where our society sees immeasurable value in every person, from conception to natural death, because all people are created in God's image.

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Religious Liberty

We work to protect religious liberty—a first freedom and Baptist principle rooted in the belief that a “free church in a free state” serves our churches, provides for the common good, and allows believers to share the gospel freely.

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Marriage and Family

We celebrate God's good design and desire to see policies enacted that allow men, women, and children to flourish according to God’s plan for sexuality and family.

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Human Dignity

True human dignity, rooted in the imago Dei, motivates the ERLC to honor all people as made in God's image. We stand for the displaced, the trafficked, the preyed upon, and the persecuted—wherever they might be.

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How we accomplish our ministry assignment

The ministry assignment given to the ERLC to serve Southern Baptist can be divided into three main areas: Policy, Resources, and Research.


Advocacy on issues that matter to Southern Baptists

The Policy team works to build consensus with officials across our federal government on issues related to life, religious liberty, marriage and family, and human dignity.

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Serving your church

The Communications team coordinates a variety of resources to aid churches in their understanding of cultural issues and assist them in the application of biblical principles.

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A Baptist vision of civic and cultural engagement

The Research team provides deep theological and ethical foundations for the ERLC's resources and policy matters.

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A legacy of hope

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission exists to bring hope to the public square. Many church leaders, policymakers, parents, and students can point to the positive impact made by the work of the ERLC throughout its history. Here are a few of their stories.

Hope in cooperation

As the pro-life movement adapts to a post-Roe America, many are finding more attention...

Hope for Our Neighbor

When Eric Costanzo was first installed as pastor at South Tulsa Baptist Church in...

Gospel hope on a politically charged college campus

When Elizabeth graduated from a small Baptist college and began pursuing her master’s degree...

5 highlights of the ERLC’s work and Baptist cooperation

Southern Baptists gather each February for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee meeting. Recently,...

Our Team

Brent Leatherwood


Brent Leatherwood was elected as president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission in 2022, after a year of leading the organization as acting president. Previously, he served as chief of staff at the ERLC, as well as the entity’s director of strategic partnerships. He brings an expertise in public policy to his work, having been the executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party, the director of communications and policy strategy in the Tennessee General Assembly, and working for several years on Capitol Hill.

The ERLC will always take care to listen to our churches and help them, which will ensure that this Commission continues to bring a deep, abiding, consistent, and thoroughly Baptist voice to the public square. And that is our foremost aim: Render assistance to our churches and, from that service, speak to a watching world.


2023 Annual Report

At the ERLC, we speak to a chaotic public square with the unchanging truth of the gospel. Our 2023 report highlights important work such as:

  • helping our churches understand the ramifications of the historic Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision of the U.S. Supreme Court;
  • filing comments in opposition to the Biden administration’s efforts to curtail religious liberty,
  • coming alongside the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention and the Baptist Convention of Iowa to file amicus briefs at the state level relating to issues of parental rights and radical gender ideology in schools,
  • and working alongside SEND Relief to prepare for the ending of Title 42.

Download the report