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The 2024 State Policy Agenda

2024 state policy agenda

The 2024 State Policy Agenda is not an exhaustive list of every policy priority, but rather, serves as a guide to equip Southern Baptists and lawmakers. It provides examples embodying good policy that captures the concerns of Southern Baptists regarding the current debates happening at the state level. We examine these policies to chart a hopeful vision for public policy that will help individuals and communities thrive.

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission assists Southern Baptist Convention churches by communicating and advocating for our moral and ethical concerns in the public arena. This “public arena” includes the vital work being done at both the federal and state levels, where we partner with other advocacy groups and our state conventions to address matters of concern to Southern Baptists.

While our advocacy work in Washington, D.C., remains a vital component of effective policy, the politically divided and often lengthy federal processes have resulted in weighty decisions being made at the state level. Just as the ERLC advocates for life, religious liberty, marriage and family, and human dignity at the national level, many of these same issues are currently being considered by state legislatures. Some of these include:

  • gambling,
  • conscience protections for medical professionals,
  • prohibitions on “gender transition” procedures and prescriptions for children,
  • opposing mail-order abortion pills that put both babies and mothers at risk,
  • restricting predatory lending,
  • and more.

Effective state-level engagement has been displayed following the historic 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court decision which overturned Roe v. Wade and freed up state and federal legislators to act against the horror of abortion. While we still advocate and pray for Congress to pass a permanent federal prohibition of abortion, the pro-life movement has adapted to fill in the gap of federal policy work by encouraging states to pass legislation that protects as many lives as possible, as quickly as possible. As of Jan. 8, 2024, 21 states have restricted or prohibited access to abortion. Alongside our fellow Southern Baptists, we pray that the number of states will grow as we diligently work toward that goal.

We are also encouraged by the proliferation of pro-family and pro-life policies being proposed and passed in many states. These policies—from creating tax exemptions for diapers and baby formula to supporting pregnancy resource centers—protect and safeguard children and mothers targeted by the abortion industry, thereby enabling parents to choose life and undermining lies perpetuated by the abortion industry.

With many state legislative sessions already underway, the ERLC has identified key state legislation that overlaps with Southern Baptist priorities of which we want government leaders, elected officials, Southern Baptist Convention affiliates, and partners in our state work to be aware.

In releasing the first State Policy Agenda, we invite you to join us in envisioning a world where abortion is unthinkable, where religious liberty is celebrated, where human beings are valued as made in God’s image, and where Southern Baptists clearly see the Lord being glorified through their state government. For any of these proposals, we encourage interested readers to engage with their Baptist state convention and local lawmakers, whose teams will have the latest information about developments related to these bills.

2024 state policy agenda

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